What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that arises from intentionally paying attention to the present moment without value-judgments and with a caring attitude – to the experience that unfolds moment by moment.

Caring Mindfulness

Matthieu Ricard prefers to speak about caring mindfulness. According to him, when competent and caring instructors like Jon Kabat-Zinn teach mindfulness, they also convey a message of kindness, altruism and compassion. But if the teacher leaves these values ​​aside, presenting or using mindfulness as a tool to increase concentration and focus on goals, this raises legitimate ethical questions and opens to door to possible distortions.

To protect the practice of mindfulness from such distortions, Matthieu recommends that one integrate a strong altruistic ingredient from the very beginning. In doing so, one learns to cultivate a caring attitude in a very powerful way and from a secular perspective, as well as to promote a more altruistic society. Like him, we are convinced that to have a fully transformative effect, mindfulness must go hand in hand with altruism.

Mindfulness and civic engagement

The success of mindfulness today is not without risk: that of being manipulated to become just another consumer good, another hyped technique expected to yield results. Such developments leave out two important aspects of the practice: its subversive and its ethical dimensions. Subversive, because meditation is not intended to “calm us down,” but rather to allow us to understand the functioning of our mind, and in so doing, to question the conditionings, beliefs, prejudices that we carry within and about us. Ethical too, because despite its secular approach, it comprises a strong altruistic dimension. In learning to open our hearts, we become aware of our interdependence, of our relationship with others and nature. Furthermore, the felt experience of our common humanity helps us to develop more compassionate connections to the difficulties and sufferings of others. In this sense, mindfulness is not meant to make us more “efficient” but more human. By reconnecting to our deepest resources, it allows us to contact states of joy, trust, serenity, but also gratitude, kindness and solidarity. Meditation and activism are no longer in contradiction, but in connection, as two attitudes that feed off each other.

Why meditate?

The daily or regular practice of mindfulness teaches us to take breaks and become more familiar with what is happening within us (thoughts, feelings, emotions), to cultivate our ability to pay attention, and to reconnect to all our senses. It helps us reduce the automatic nature of our reactions and respond to situations rather than react to them.

Mindfulness training also helps to develop a caring and understanding attitude towards ourselves in difficult times (of failure, of suffering). Observing a situation without automatic reaction to the perceptions and judgments that occur, seeing it as it is, gives us a new space of freedom, in which to decide, for example, if an action or behavior is adequate.

Of course, like any activity (such as learning a musical instrument), mindfulness requires regular training to master, allowing brain neuroplasticity to creates changes deep in our neural wiring.

The benefits of meditation:

Meditation sessions are particularly adapted to the following cases:

  • Managing emotions
  • Burn out
  • Hyperactivity, attention disorders and attentional dispersion / lack of concentration
  • Addictions
  • Managing anxiety and mental ruminations
  • Insomnia / Sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain, inflammation and chronic disease
  • Prevention of depressive relapse
  • Hypertension
  • Mental flexibility
  • Decision making
  • Self-esteem and self-compassion
  • Quality of relationship with others

Meditation sessions are also recommended to anyone looking to live more in the moment, to develop their serenity, to better understand and take care of themselves, and to discover others.

FAQ

What is the difference between “pleine conscience” and mindfulness?

The word “pleine conscience” is the French translation used for the term “mindfulness”, popularized by the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is the monk Thich Nhat Hahn who seems to have been the first to use the term “pleine conscience”. He has recently been found controversial by some who find him reductive, and who prefer the term “caring mindfulness”.

Is mindfulness linked to a specific spiritual process?

The training in mindfulness developed by Jon Kabat Zinn draws its source from the Buddhist tradition. However, the exercises used in the cycles do not require any spiritual commitment and are strongly anchored in a rational, scientific, contemporary and integrated approach. Meditation is found in many traditions around the world.

The program proposed here is primarily oriented towards the acquisition of a skill enabling people to improve their quality of life at the physical and psychological level. Although the participants’ spiritual approach is respected, it is not the essence of the program.

Is mindfulness a form of psychotherapy?

No, not as such. It is more about learning a technique of self-knowledge that leads to an improved quality of life. One could compare it to sports: walking regularly can improve one’s physical and psychological health, without it being psychotherapy.

That said, mindfulness techniques have been incorporated into various types of therapy for their beneficial effects such as reducing suffering and reconnecting us to our resources (physical and psychological). The most famous approaches are :

  • The mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR).
  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

The type of learning offered by Emergences is comparable to the MBCT and MBSR programs.

These programs may (but are not required to) be performed in conjunction with a therapeutic process.

A contact may be established between the mindfulness instructor and the psychotherapist if the patient and the psychotherapist wish to evaluate the relevance of the mindfulness learning for the therapeutic process.

If you are consulting a psychiatrist, it is imperative to report it to us and inform us of your wish to follow the cycle in order to obtain their approval.

Who is the mindfulness meditation for?

Everyone can take part in mindfulness cycles. Some are encouraged to after undergoing major upheavals (within family or professional life, or for medical reasons), or because they suffer from stress and wish to improve their physical and / or psychological well being. But others follow the program to feel better, to understand themselves better, to develop their empathy, to find meaning in their lives.