• Attention training to cultivate qualities of concentration,
clarity, and equanimity. The common thread connecting all
• Techniques to elicit the relaxation response in mind andbody
• Movement and breathing strategies to synchronize mindand
body and release tension.
• Positive Psychology
• Practices to cultivate and strengthen positive mind/
• Resiliency Training
• Techniques for balancing the nervous system, processing
trauma, and strengthening the ‘resilientzone’.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a
particular way; On purpose, in the
present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
• Concentration: The ability to focus and stabilize one’s
• Sensory Clarity: The ability to keep track of the
components of sensory experience as they arise in
various combinations, moment-by-moment.
• Equanimity: The ability to ‘be with’ experience with an
attitude of gentle matter-of-factness.
Regular Practice Cultivates 3
Mindfulness Training Techniques
•Many techniques! Depends on teacher and tradition
• Restrictive or open attention
• Noting option
• Restrictive focus, such as breath meditation
• Develops/strengthens core skills of concentration, clarity and
•Intermediate / advanced practices:
• Open awareness to increasing amount of sensory
experience, such as “choiceless awareness”
•Formal and informal practices
Where Does It Come
• In the 19th century, mindfulness was used to translate
the Pali word Sati. Pali is the canonical language of
Theravada, a form of Buddhism found in Southeast
• “Establishing Mindfulness” (Satipatthana) is a primary
practice of Theravada Buddhism.
• It is said to lead to insight into the true nature of self
and reality (impermanence, the suffering of conditioned
existence, and non-self)
Mindfulness Arrives in the West
• In the 60’s and 70’s, Westerners began going to
Southeast Asia to learn mindfulness practices. They
brought those practices back to the West and began to
teach them within the framework of Buddhism.
• In the 80’s and 90’s, it was discovered that those practices
could be extracted from Buddhism and the cultural matrix
of Asia and used within a secular context.
• Mindfulness awareness practices started to be used within a
secular context to develop useful attentional skills.
• These practices became ever more prevalent in clinical settings
for pain management, addiction recovery, stress reduction, and
as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
Mindfulness in Healthcare
• In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of
Massachusetts Medical School to treat chronically ill
• Subsequently, a number of other psychotherapeutic modalities
centering around mindfulness were developed: Acceptance and
Commitment Therapy (ACT); Mindfulness-Based Cognitive
Therapy (MBCT); Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
Mindfulness in Society
Increasingly, it is being understood that mindful awareness
is a cultivatable skill with broad applications through all
aspects of society, including education, prison system,
politics, business, and even the training of soldiers.
savouring, mindfulness & ﬂow
to what is happeningin
the present moment
full immersion in
what one is doing
with loss of self-
focus on positive
past, present or
The experience of ﬂow is universal and it has
been reported to occur across different classes,
genders, ages, cultures and it can be
experienced in many types of activities.
•If you’ve ever heard someone describe a time
when their performance excelled and they used
the term being “in the zone”, what they’re
describing is an experience of ﬂow. It occurs
when your skill level and the challenge at hand
(Me High? Cheeks send me
•From his own adverse experiences as a prisoner
during World War II and from witnessing the pain
and suffering from many people around him
during this time, he developed a curiosity about
happiness and being content with life.
Happiness is an internal state of being,
not an external one.
•Through much research he began to understand
that people were most creative, productive, and
often, happiest when they are in this state of ﬂow.
He interviewed athletes, musicians, artists, etc.
because he wanted to know when they
experienced the most optimal performance levels.
•He was also interested in ﬁnding out how they felt
during these experiences. He developed the term
ﬂow state because many of the people he
interviewed described their optimal states of
performance as instances when their work simply
ﬂowed out of them without much effort.
•“Astate in which people are so involved
in an activity that nothing else seems to
matter; the experience is so enjoyable
that people will continue to do it even at
great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
•– Csikszentmihalyi, 1990
8 Characteristics of Flow
•Complete concentration on the task
•Clarity of goals and reward in mind and
•Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing
down of time)
•The experience is intrinsically rewarding
•Effortlessness and ease
•There is a balance between challenge
•Actions and awareness are merged,
losing self-conscious rumination
•There is a feeling of control over thetask
• Studies suggest that those with ‘’autotelic personalities’’ tendto
experience more ﬂow.
• A person with an ‘’autotelic personality’’ tends to do things for
their own sake rather than chasing some distant external goal.
This type of personality is distinguished by certain meta-skills
such as high interest in life, persistence, as well as low self-
• Moreover, in a recent study investigating associations between
ﬂow and the 5-personality types, they found a negative
correlation with neuroticism and a positive correlationbetween
conscientiousness with the state of ﬂow.
• It can be speculated that neurotic individuals are more proneto
anxiety and self-criticism, which are conditions that can disrupt
this state. In contrast, conscientious individuals are more likely
to spend time on mastering challenging tasks, which are
characteristics important for ﬂow experience.
What Happens in the Brain During
• The state of ﬂow has been rarely investigated from a
neuropsychological perspective but is a growing interest.
According to Dietrich, it has been associated
with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.
• The prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for higher
cognitive functions such as self-reﬂective consciousness,
memory, temporal integration, and working memory. It’s an
area that’s responsible for our conscious and explicit mind
• However, in a state of ﬂow, this area is believed to
temporarily down-regulate; a process called transient
hypofrontality. This temporary inactivation of the prefrontal
area may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of
self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic.
• Moreover, the inhibition of the prefrontal lobe may enable
the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas
to communicate freely and engage in a creative process.
Spirituality and Positive Psychology
•The key insight of positive psychology is that
happiness and wellbeing are clearly associated
with goal, purpose and meaning-making (Emmons,
1999). One reason religious and spiritual traditions
have been persistent in human history is that they
provide meaning (Park & McNamara, 2006).
•The theme of meaning closely related to
hope, optimism and future orientation.
•depression and suicidal behaviour, and to a lesser
degree, alcoholic abuse, are correlated to
hopelessness (Schotte & Clum, 1982). This
hopelessness is understood as the absence of
purpose in life, and more precisely, the lack of self-
efﬁcacy and problem-solving abilities
Religion, Spirituality and Positive
• Social interest (originally from Adler) is the disposition to
spontaneously build a sense of connectedness with
humankind. This, in turn, is said to have a positive impact
on mental wellbeing. There is sufﬁcient empirical evidence
to show that people who are altruistic, sociable and display
empathy are consistently happier than others. On the other
hand, people suffering from depression are generally self-
absorbed, distrustful and focus defensively on their own
needs (Seligman, 2002).
• Research evidence on the correlation between forgiveness
and mental health and wellbeing is also abundant
(McCullogh & Witvliet, 2005). The experience of forgiving
others is associated with mental wellbeing (Reed & Enright,
2006) and physical health (Thoresen, Harris, & Luskin,
2000). On the other hand, the experience of being forgiven
by God was related to fewer depressive and anxious
symptoms (Exline, Yali, & Lobel, 1999). Interventions to
Spirituality - deﬁnitions
•“The experience or expression of the sacred” (adapted
from Random House Dictionary of the English
•“Certain kinds of activity through which a person seeks
meaning, especially a “search for the sacred. It may also
refer to personal growth, blissful experience,or an
encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.” (Wikipedia).
•“The search for transcendent meaning” – can be expressed
in religious practice or exclusively in relationship to nature,
music, the arts, a set of philosophical beliefs, or
relationships with friends and family” (Astrow et al. 2001).
•“The search for meaning in life events and a yearning
for connectedness to the universe” (Coles 1990).
•“A person’s experience of, or a belief in, a power apart from
his or her own existence” (Mohr 2006).
Mindfulness and Spirituality
• Research works on mindfulness also bring together
spirituality and wellbeing. Mindfulness, which is the age-
old process of cultivating awareness in Buddhist traditions,
is seen in positive psychology as a means to facilitate
novelty, ﬂow and optimal experiences. Its relation to
spirituality is duly acknowledged (Snyder & Lopez, 2007).
• Mindfulness is increasingly used in clinical contexts.
Although “empirical literature supporting its efﬁcacy is
small,” there is a growing support for the claim that
“mindfulness-based intervention can be rigorously
operationalized, conceptualized, and empirically evaluated”
in the context of health and wellbeing (Baer, 2003, p.140;
see also Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
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