What Is Mindfulness? A Contemplative Perspective

  • Shinzen YoungEmail author
Part of the Mindfulness in Behavioral Health book series (MIBH)


Increasingly, “mindfulness” is being seen as important for success in a wide range of human endeavors. But this word may be used in different ways, possibly leading to confusion or even contention. This chapter provides a comprehensive and fine-grained exposition of the various ways in which the word mindfulness is being used.

Key questions addressed include:
  • Can mindful awareness be analyzed into a set of independent components?

  • What constitutes a rigorous definition of mindful awareness?

  • How has the notion of mindfulness evolved through time and across cultures?

  • What are the specific mechanisms by which mindfulness reduces physical suffering?

  • What are the specific mechanisms by which mindfulness reduces mental and emotional suffering?

  • What about the concern that mindfulness is a way to sneak Buddhism into schools and businesses?

  • How does mainstream mindfulness relate to traditional values such as skillful actions and liberation from small self?


Mindfulness Mindfulness definition Mindful awareness practices Pain management Emotional regulation Stress reduction Concentration power Sensory clarity Equanimity 



I would like to thank Emily Barrett, Donald W. McCormick, Todd Mertz, and Rob Roeser for their help with this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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