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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Is Mindfulness Uniquely Buddhist?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 22nd 2011

questionWhile the approach of cultivating mindfulness in relation to our experience is enjoying a lot of excitement and interest in western culture, the experience of being more present to our lives is something that has been introduced in every spiritual teaching that you can think of. Recently I was sent an advanced reader’s edition of a book coming out in August 2011 called Here I Am by a psychologist in Los Angeles, Leonard Felder, PhD.

The title implies being present to one’s life, but not from the Buddhist lineage which is most of what is taught in health and medicine today.

He brings Jewish teachings to help us drop into greater states of presence; transform our relationship to difficulties and open up to the wonders of life.

For example, the book’s title is a practice all by itself. When the mind is off running its usual stories about how “Nothings ever going to change ”or“ No one can help me,” or just planning and worrying about the future, he suggests bringing the phrase “Here I am” into our lives to drop us back into the present moment.

“Here I am” is a classic Jewish phrase.

However, I can look to the other wisdom traditions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, among others and find similar phrases or practices that are about invoking presence.

If you feel connected to a certain form of spirituality or religion, you likely don’t need to look much further than your own faith to find practices in presence.

However, with that said, mindfulness in the form of breathing practices, body scans, or wider awareness practices are extremely simple to convey and practical to our everyday lives. That doesn’t mean they’re easy, it’s harder than we think to remain present. Our brains have a very strong inclination to wander.

Whatever you faith or path, what’s more important than learning how to be more present and intimate with our lives? As we start to practice we recognize a sense of being able to trust ourselves, our intuition, and our ability to remain balanced even during the storms of life.

I’m sure everyone that reads this would love to hear about the practices you use to remain more present and centered in your life.

Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Mindfulness - Mark Flamand - Jul 25th 2011

    Mindfulness is about being aware in the present moment. The are numerous examples of the Indigenous people's being able to do that. Their focus on observing nature and then taking those principles and applying them to daily life is part of the heritage that they have left with the world, for our enrichment.

    techniques for practicing presence - Elizabeth Topp - Jul 22nd 2011

    In my 2006 research utilizing Presence as a primary professional coaching technique, clients practiced a 4-step process of: 

    stop - observe - align - allow

    Many modified the practice to suit what worked for them. Examples included: 

    • Lay back; feel everything; sense everything; breathing: “here I am…this is me…”

    • “The result of slowing down and centering is almost the same thing.”

    • saying to myself “Slow…Notice…Feel”

    • “Readjusted practice: ask question first (align first) ‘what is essential in this moment?’”

    • “Later I tried starting with all of them at once, attention to hands, feet, ears, eyes. It seemed as though I could bring myself into the present more quickly and for longer that way.” (participants learned Sensing, Looking, Listening mindfulness exercise by Charles Tart, Living the Mindful Life)

    • “Reigning myself in (getting back in my body, hearing through my ears, seeing through eyeballs, sensing through body); finding stillness and satisfaction; noticing (w/out judgment and not having to say or do anything about it).”

    • “Cachitada de Elizabeth”- white glove slap in the face. (a wake-up) - I loved this one!

    For the full study see http://bit.ly/pOj39S

    For a synopsis see http://slidesha.re/qL34Ps

    Elisha, thank you for your continual wisdom.

    Elizabeth Topp, Founder, www.shiftalliance.com

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