When a Western comes in contact with mindfulness, it is usually in a secular way. It is solely focused on the mind and how it can help one to overcome anxiety, stress and more with a set of exercises. Practical and stripped off of all spiritual or religious aspects.
This is great because it lowers the barrier of entry. No matter what your belief system is, you can practice mindfulness and gain the benefits. No strings attached.
However, there is more we can learn from the mindfulness origins. Ethics for example.
When you take a step closer to the Buddhist origins, you will notice soon it is actually about living a rightful life. Not for itself but to reach the ultimate goal of Buddhism, the nirvana. If you fail, you’ll be reborn and have another go until you finally manage it. Parts of this rightful life are things like not lying, not killing, no attacking, no backtalk, not harming animals or the environment, only take as much as you need, and many more.
When we put the spirituals aside, it is essentially rules for living peacefully together in groups. Sounds familiar?
I bet it is, no matter your belief system; probably any religion has those. What I find interesting though is that religions share a basic set of rules like about lying to or killing each other.
It seems there is a universal set of rules all humans come up with when living in groups. The most apparent no-brainer is the not-killing anyone.
What mindfulness adds to the table is that a lot of problems originate in our brain and the world it creates. It constantly evaluates, interprets and judges what is around us. It even does that when we try to sleep.
So, problems are not necessary real but quite often perceived and made up by our brain. A standard set of ethics guidelines aka rules can be a great help dealing with that shit. Instead of wrestling every time with our mind, we use those guides and silence that stupid voice in our head. Those guidelines always remember us of what is important and what not. It makes practicing easier, helps us become better and thus the world a better place.
Published in MinfulDevMag issue #2 – Download full issue