What is Mindfulness? A Contemplative Perspective

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Young, Shinzen. 2016. in Handbook of Mindfulness in Education: Integrating Theory and Research into Practice edited by Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl and Robert W. Roeser, 29-47, 1st edition. New York: Springer-Verlag

In this chapter, Shinzen Young fleshes out a historically contingent definition of mindfulness. It is apparent that mindfulness needs to be defined with respect to its two sides: the practical and the theoretical. The practical side refers to how mindfulness practices can elevate our concentration power and help us to be present and centered in any given moment. The theoretical side refers to how mindfulness is intuitive, quantitative, explanatory, and historical. Young offers convincing evidence for mindfulness being intuitive, explanatory, and historical, but her definition fails to be quantitative. However, as Young argues, “science is currently being evoked both to confirm the clinical effects of mindfulness and to develop a theory that explains those effects”. Naturally, it is not certain that this line of research will be successful, but if it is, I believe, like Young, that the ramifications will “be historic in magnitude”.

Summed up, mindfulness refers to our ability to focus on thoughts, feelings, or perceptions that arise from moment to moment in a cognitively nonelaborative and emotionally non-reactive way. Thus, in the context of this library, Young’s chapter offers a foundational framework for further research into inner peace, which evidently is linked to mindful practices. Moreover, this library includes three more chapters that build on the idea of inner peace/mindfulness in the context of education (see; Cultivating Inner Resilience in Educators and Students ; and On Attentive Love in Education ; and Mindfulness Matters in the Classrooms).

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