The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness

Deeply embedded in the practice of contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are concepts drawn from the ancient wisdom of meditative traditions. The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness uncovers the essential Buddhist teachings at the heart of this powerful anti-stress program, enabling you to deepen your historical and spiritual understanding of MBSR and nourish your practice.

Meditation and mindfulness are everywhere: in hospitals, clinics, and schools; in major medical, psychological, and scientific journals; on TV; and in popular publications—even on the cover of Time magazine. And thankfully so—since Jon Kabat-Zinn developed MBSR, a treatment blending meditation and yoga, it has been proven effective in treating conditions like chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and depression for sufferers around the world. Lesser known, however, are the deep philosophical roots of MBSR known as the Buddhist dharma, translated as “the teachings of the Buddha.” Although they form the very foundation underlying MBSR and other mindfulness-based interventions, they often remain hidden within modern mindfulness practices.

The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness illuminates these cornerstones, communicating previously esoteric teachings with language that makes them easily accessible and applicable to your complex daily life. The book follows the structure of an eight-week MBSR class, paralleling the participant’s journey with that of the Buddha for the alleviation of suffering. With real-life examples, guided reflections, and practices throughout, this book will show you the connections between the ancient wisdom of Buddhism and contemporary MBSR.

Regardless of your background, status, or education, and whether you’re a practitioner, teacher, or trainer, this invitation to explore the essential Buddhist teachings at the heart of modern mindfulness—such as the four noble truths, the noble eightfold path, and the four brahmaviharas: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity—will expand your understanding and enhance your practice, and, in doing so, connect you with your inner wisdom and deepest humanity.

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Opening Paragraphs of “The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness”

Hello, dear reader, and thank you for joining me on this adventure in discovery. I have a confession; the topic of this book was more than a little daunting to me. It loomed huge before me and I didn’t think I was up to the task. How dare I tackle such a thing? And then I remembered something, something I learned in MBSR and along the Buddhist path, something my primary teacher, Zen master, Charles Tenshin Fletcher Roshi says frequently, “You already have everything you need. Nothing is missing” Did this mean it was possible that wisdom to write this book was already within me?

One thing I have learned over the years is-these convergent paths- MBSR and the teachings of The Buddha have many things in common; they are in fact the same path, these paths point each individual to our own innate wisdom and wholeness. And that includes me, even if I doubted it. You could say the invitation to write the book was putting this truth to the test.  Now, how to go about expressing that, I asked myself? Invite you into my MBSR classroom and let the students be the teacher which in fact they are! I also chose to include the clinic where I practice medicine, and sometimes into the various Dharma centers where I practice and teach meditation, and then allow everyone and everything write the book. And one more thing, I asked for a lot of help along the way.

My hope is that you’ll reflect on what you read here, try some of the practices and then see what rings true for you. While the sub-title reads “Discovering the Buddhist Teachings at the Heart of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,” and my intention, of course is to do that to the best of my ability, but honestly, my deepest wish is that this be a journey of self-discovery. So welcome to the classroom of your own life. Welcome to us all.

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Copyright © 2010-2018 Beth Mulligan