By Caitlin Coloson
Mindfulness meditation has come to be an important part of my practice as a counsellor. With its origins in Eastern philosophy and specifically some branches of Buddhism, mindfulness became popularized in the West in the 70s by a number of teachers and psychologists. Famously, Jon Kabbat Zin, a student of Zen Buddhism created an eight-week evidenced-based course for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). An early adopter, Kabbat Zin’s work from 1979 remains a widely successful, secular program that blended science with Buddhist principles in a course of study founded “moment to moment awareness” for a Western audience. A number of (white) people are credited with “having brought Buddhism to the West,” including Ram Dass, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Mark Epstein. Each are therapists, writers and teachers themselves.
There are a multitude of ways to practice mindfulness from eyes open to eyes closed, from practices called “do nothing” of the Zen tradition (literally sitting and doing nothing), to practices where we actively cultivate heart energy (Metta) to visualizations to mantras. The list goes on. Many counsellors, myself included, look to Buddhism to inform their therapeutic practices – whether through the adoption of Buddhist principles like non-attachment, the origins of suffering, impermanence, groundlessness, radical uncertainty, compassion (again the list goes on) or through the direct application of meditative practices as a resource in session and beyond.
If you’re interested in learning more, some resources that I love on meditation include The Consciousness Explorers Podcast and The Consciousness Explorers Club (a welcoming community with weekly online meditation events and occasional with great teachers). A friend and teacher Jude Star has also developed an incredible course on Mindfulness for ADHD. Authors and teachers like Ram Dass, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg and Mark Epstein also have an abundance of material to dive into.
To learn more about mindfulness, meditation, or counselling, you can book a free 15-minute consultation with Caitlin Coloson