The 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness: How It Transformed My Practice
Jon Kabat-Kinn was perhaps the first expert on the subject of mindfulness and meditation that I watched, and I am so grateful that he was.
While a lot of things that I first read were how to meditate (close your eyes and breath, etc.), it was only until I listened to Jon Kabat-Kinn and his 9 attitudes of mindfulness that I understood what I should be doing during my meditation practice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), is credited with identifying these attitudes that form the foundation of effective mindfulness practice.
So, let’s take a deep dive into the 9 attitudes and explore how they can enhance your mindfulness practice. like they did mine, and improve your overall well-being.
What Is Mindfulness According to Jon Kabat-Zinn?
Jon Kabat-Zinn offered a simple yet powerful definition of mindfulness. According to him, formal mindfulness practice is:
“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”Jon Kabat-Zinn
In other words, mindfulness is the conscious and deliberate practice of directing your attention to the here and now, without getting caught up in judgments or evaluations.
It’s about cultivating a deep, non-reactive awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, as well as the world around you.
This definition highlights the three key components of mindfulness:
Intentionality: Mindfulness is a purposeful and deliberate practice. You choose to direct your attention to the present moment, rather than allowing your mind to wander aimlessly.
Present moment focus: Mindfulness is anchored in the here and now. By bringing your attention to the present, you can gain greater clarity, insight, and appreciation for the richness of your experience.
Non-judgment: A critical aspect of mindfulness is the practice of non-judging, which involves observing your experience without labeling it as good or bad. This attitude fosters a more open and accepting relationship with yourself and the world around you.
Related: What is Mindfulness? Everything you need to know
What Are the 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness attitudes are the core principles that support and guide a mindfulness practice.
These nine attitudes together provide the framework for cultivating awareness and self-acceptance, which in turn leads to a more balanced and fulfilling life.
The 9 attitudes of mindfulness are:
Now, let’s break down each of these nine attitudinal factors and see how they can be integrated into your mindfulness practice.
Non-judging is the cornerstone of mindfulness. This attitude and practice involves suspending judgment and observing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without labeling them as good or bad.
Instead of getting caught up in your own judging thoughts, you’ll practice observing them impartially, like a neutral witness. This helps you cultivate a more open and accepting attitude toward your inner experience.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn famously said, “patience is a form of wisdom.” In mindfulness practice, patience means giving yourself time to notice and accept things as they are, without trying to rush or force change.
It’s recognizing that the process cannot be hurried, much like how a butterfly can only emerge by breaking open its chrysalis. Cultivating patience can help you stay present and develop a deeper connection with your experiences.
3. Beginner’s Mind
Adopting a beginner’s mind means approaching each moment with a fresh, open perspective, free from preconceptions and expectations.
It’s about seeing things as if for the first time, even if you’ve encountered them before. This attitude encourages curiosity and a sense of wonder, allowing you to fully engage with your present-moment experience.
Trust, in the context of mindfulness, refers to having faith in your own basic wisdom and intuition.
By cultivating trust, you learn to rely on your own authority and inner guidance instead of seeking validation or answers from external sources.
This attitude fosters self-reliance basic trust, and confidence, making it easier to navigate life’s challenges and uncertainties.
In our goal-oriented society, non-striving can be a challenging concept to grasp. However, it’s an essential attitude for mindfulness practice.
Non-striving means letting go of the need to achieve specific outcomes and instead focusing on the process itself.
It’s about being fully present and accepting whatever arises, without trying to force or manipulate your experience. This mindful attitude can help you find peace and contentment in the present moment.
Acceptance is the practice of acknowledging and embracing your present-moment experience, even if it’s unpleasant or uncomfortable.
It’s not about passive resignation, but rather an active process of embracing reality as it is. By cultivating acceptance, you learn to let go of resistance and struggle, creating space for personal growth and transformation.
7. Letting go
Letting go is closely related to acceptance, but it specifically involves releasing attachments to thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
It’s about allowing things to come and go naturally, without trying to hold on to or push away what arises in your mind.
This attitude can help you develop a sense of ease and freedom in your mindfulness practice, as well as in your everyday life.
Gratitude is the practice of recognizing and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, even in the midst of challenges or difficulties.
Cultivating gratitude can have a profound impact on your mental health, as it shifts your focus away from negative aspects and towards the abundance and goodness that already exists.
Gratitude journals and other practices, such as taking time each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, can help you develop a more appreciative and joyful outlook on life.
Generosity, the final attitude on our list, is about cultivating an open-hearted and giving disposition.
This attitude involves sharing your time, energy, and resources with others, as well as offering emotional support and understanding.
By practicing generosity, you not only contribute to the well-being of others but also strengthen your own sense of interconnectedness and compassion for human beings.
You can watch the man himself – Jon Kabat-Zinn talking about each of the mindfulness attitudes in this video series:
How to Integrate the 9 Attitudes Into Your Mindfulness Practice
Now that you have a better understanding of the 9 attitudes of mindfulness, you might be wondering how to incorporate them into your practice. Here are a few suggestions:
Set an intention: Before starting your mindfulness practice, set an intention to cultivate one or more of the attitudes. For example, you might choose to focus on non-judging or patience during a particular meditation session.
Reflect on your attitudes: After your mindfulness practice, take a moment to reflect on how well you embodied the chosen attitudes. Were there moments when you struggled with judgmental thinking or impatience? How did that affect your experience?
Practice in daily life: Mindfulness doesn’t have to be limited to formal meditation practice. Look for opportunities to integrate the 9 attitudes into your daily life, whether it’s being patient in traffic, approaching a task with a beginner’s mind, or practicing gratitude for the small moments of joy you encounter.
Educate yourself: Read books, attend workshops, or take meditation training to deepen your understanding of the 9 attitudes and how they relate to mindfulness practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, “Full Catastrophe Living,” is an excellent resource for learning more about the foundations of mindfulness.
The Benefits of Cultivating the 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness
By consciously cultivating the 9 attitudes of mindfulness, you can enhance your mindfulness practice and experience numerous benefits, including:
Reduced stress: Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, leading to improved mental and physical health.
Better emotional regulation: Practicing mindfulness can help you develop greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence, making it easier to manage difficult emotions and maintain a balanced state of mind.
Improved relationships: The attitudes of mindfulness, such as non-judging, patience, and generosity, can help you cultivate more compassionate and empathetic connections with others.
Enhanced well-being: Research has found that individuals who practice mindfulness experience greater life satisfaction, improved sleep, and increased resilience in the face of adversity.
The nine attitudes of mindfulness provide a solid foundation for successful and rewarding mindfulness practice.
By integrating these attitudes into your meditation sessions and daily life, you can experience a profound shift in your mental and emotional well-being. So, why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you!