"Learning to meet each thought and sensation as it arises with an open, loving heart, not clinging to the experience through either attraction or aversion, and bringing ourselves back to clear awareness ... mindfulness and meditation are great ways to stabilize the mind and heart" (Ram Dass, 2000, pp. 165,166).
Importantly, meditation and mindfulness promote compassion and kindness for oneself as well as for others. "self-compassion is an essential, often unrecognized, ingredient in maintaining healthy relationships" (Germer, 2009, p.160).
Williams, Teasdale, Segal, & Kabat-Zinn (2007) caution that when people live with continuous unchecked stress life's joys eventually become diminished - exhaustion replaces vitality, and life starts to become progressively imbalanced, and less meaningful. They refer to this as 'the exhaustion tunnel', where people spiral down through a series of declining health symptoms that can be the precursor to the onset of serious health problems including depleted energy, insomnia, negative emotions and depression.
"When people do not include self-care strategies to better manage the demands of modern living, they are at risk of being caught in this exhaustion tunnel where unchecked stress related symptoms could escalate into chronic health conditions" (Caltabiano et al, 2008).
"Mindfulness is a form of mind-body medicine that acts as a safeguard against stress and potential health related problems, by modulating the stress response and thereby positively influencing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Mindfulness meditation is becoming more commonplace in many areas of health care, where regular practice has been shown to enhance psychological coping ability and emotional regulation" (Shapiro, Astin, Bishop & Cordova, 2005).
"Additionally, it supports immunity thereby providing better health outcomes in many chronic health problems, and provides complementary adjuncts to formal health care protocols" (Brown & Ryan, 2003).
"Mindfulness and meditation have been practiced for thousands of years by many cultures within religious foundations, and are also part of non-religious practice associated with inner reflection and contemplation" (Murphy, 2006).
Mindfulness is central to Buddhist philosophy – it is a conscious mind state that enables insight, reflection and wisdom.
“seeing more deeply into cause and effect and the interconnectedness of things” (Kabat–Zinn, 1990, p.3).
"Mindfulness is being sensitive and curious to life, to awaken to the inner and outer world with a non-judgmental awareness of thoughts, feelings and actions - in the here and now. Present moment awareness. Living more mindfully means living with an attitude of loving kindness to self and others" (Dalai Lama, 2001).
Fundamental to Buddhists philosophy is the certainty life is impermanent - the nature of life is transient, ephemeral, fleeting - but living with present moment awareness is to live well (Dalai Lama, 1994). Mindful awareness means paying attention to life, living life consciously, to be in relationship with it (Sogyal, 1994), to become the witness (Germer, Fulton, & Siegel, 2013). Mindfulness is a powerful means for self-understanding and healing that invites an objective mind state, to stand back from thoughts and feelings with an attitude of compassion and loving-kindness (Dalia Lama, 2003).
“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation”(Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p.4).