The mindfulness controversy – Buddhism vs Psychology

The mindfulness controversy – Buddhism vs Psychology

Mindfulness has become an integral part of Positive Psychology and the science of happiness.

Happiness, it’s argued, requires a degree of mindfulness within its foundation.

But before psychology “discovered” mindfulness, it was a core component of Buddhist teachings and notably, it wasn’t always associated with happiness.

Intrigued? Read on…

via ThoughtCo by Barbara O’Brien

In recent years many practicing psychotherapists have adopted the Buddhist practice of mindfulness as part of their therapeutic toolkit. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), for example, are being used to treat conditions such as ADHD, depression, anxiety and chronic pain. The results have been enormously encouraging.

Yet, use of mindfulness as therapy, as well as mindfulness to reduce workplace stress, is not without detractors.

Some Buddhist teachers are concerned that mindfulness could be misused.


In Buddhism, mindfulness is a direct, whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment. This awareness includes awareness of one’s body, of sensations, of mental states, and of, well, everything. In the context of Buddhism, mindfulness is one of eight “folds” of the Eightfold Path, which is the framework of all of Buddhist practice.

(A side note: People sometimes use the word mindfulness as a synonym for “meditation,” but that’s not exactly right. There are mindfulness meditations, but mindfulness is something that can be practiced in day-to-day activity as well. And not all Buddhist meditation is mindfulness meditation.)

Within the context of Buddhist practice, all parts of the Path support and affect all other parts of the Path. From a Buddhist perspective, when mindfulness is practiced in isolation of the rest of the Path it becomes something different from Buddhist mindfulness.

That doesn’t make it “wrong,” of course.

But some Buddhist meditation teachers have voiced concerns for some time that mindfulness meditation isolated from its traditional guiding context of the Path could be more unpredictable and possibly dangerous. For example, uncoupled from the other parts of the Path that teach us to release greed and anger and develop loving kindnesscompassion and empathy, mindfulness could reinforce negative qualities instead of positive ones.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear that the difficult episodes are most likely to happen to someone doing a lot of meditating, particularly meditation retreats of several days’ duration. Someone doing mindfulness exercises for ten to twenty minutes a day should be fine.


Although meditation has been marketed to the West as a stress-reduction technique, that was never its purpose in eastern spiritual practice. From its beginnings in the Vedic tradition of India, people meditated to realize insight or wisdom, not to relax. And the spiritual-meditative journey is not always a blissful one. I suspect most of us with long experience in a traditional meditation practice have been through some raw and edgy experiences with it, but this is part of the spiritual “process.”

…keep reading the full & original article HERE