Is Mindfulness a Fad?
Mindfulness isn't a buzzword. Mindfulness is considered the heart of Buddhist meditation. That said, one does not need to be a Buddhist to practice it. The heart of mindfulness is universal and offers a practical benefit to everyone. But mindfulness also isn't up for commerce any more than breathing air is. In other words, it doesn't need to be processed, packaged up, marketed & sold to you. At least I don't think it does. It isn't something we do or buy, but something we live.
So what is mindfulness? No one says it better than Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., considered by many as the "Father of Mindfulness", who took Eastern religious mindfulness practices and made them practical for a Western audience:
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.
He often adds to that, "in the service of self-understanding and wisdom." It sounds simple. But in our active world with our busy minds, it can be quite challenging. That is why it is a practice. It's not something we are going to achieve. It's not something we check off our lists. It's always there, in every moment. It's a matter of whether we are there to witness it, intentionally, without judging.
If you have been following me for some time, you know that I like to approach my tea time mindfully. That is why I prefer loose leaf tea over tea bags, yet one could absolutely drink tea from a teabag mindfully. Because it's not about the tea, but being fully present with it. Personally, I love how I can so easily engage all five of my senses as I steep and sit with loose leaf tea. The whole leaf lends itself so beautifully to our sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. This is the way I have approached sitting with my tea for decades. I can't imagine taking my tea in solitude any other way. It's as natural as breathing. Yet we know that many of us go through life without truly breathing. It's the intentional, deep breathing that makes our tummy rise & fall that is true breathing. It is the same with tea. Mindfully sipping tea is how we are meant to BE with our tea. It's all about be-ing, not doing. Because we are be-ings, not do-ings.
The next time you sit with your tea, promise me that you will sit intentionally, giving your full attention to your tea without judgment. What do you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste? Notice all the visual details of the tea so that you could describe it to a sketch artist and they could draw it back to you. Smell the dry tea leaf, the wet tea leaf, and the tea liquor. What are the differences? Can you notice that the taste of tea is sweet or slightly bitter without judgment? As we sit with our tea this way we practice mindfulness. We show up like this day after day and then we may see how aware we can be in a multitude of ways in our lives.
To answer the title question of this blog post, no, mindfulness is not a fad. It's also not a silver bullet. It's not a cure-all. It is an awareness... the awareness of "paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally". Mindfulness has been here all along and will be here to stay...if we only choose to live it.
If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book, Wherever You Go There You Are - Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Until next time, wishing you tea & peace!
aka, Mindful Tea Queen