Published online Apr 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i4.87
Peer-review started: January 20, 2021
First decision: February 15, 2021
Revised: March 2, 2021
Accepted: April 5, 2021
Article in press: April 5, 2021
Published online: April 19, 2021
Mindfulness is a psychological technique based on Eastern meditative practices that was developed in the late 1970s by Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts. Initially, there was a debate over whether it should be considered a scientific technique or labelled as part of the “new wave” practices. Today, mindfulness is omnipresent in modern societies but has suffered from merchandising and banalization, which has been strongly criticized. Despite some limitations regarding methodological aspects of mindfulness research, it is considered effective for treating many physical and psychological disorders, and even it is recommended in clinical guidelines such the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. During the last 2500 years, mindfulness practices have moved from Northern India across most of Asia, but their mixing with Western science and culture at the end of the 20th century is considered a key event in recent history. For the first time in human history, due to globalization, the wisdom of all contemplative traditions can be shared with all human beings and assessed by science. Mindfulness practices, yoga included, are giving birth to a new field of knowledge, contemplative sciences, which go beyond mindfulness and is devoted to helping humanity to reach higher levels of happiness and mental peace.
Core Tip: This paper reflects on the following subjects: (1) The efficacy and expansion of mindfulness in modern world-limitations from a scientific and a philosophical perspective; (2) The exciting times we are entering as a consequence of the marriage between science and contemplative techniques; and (3) Finally, the consequence of all these aspects–the birth of a new field of knowledge, the contemplative sciences, which includes mindfulness. They will offer humankind the wisdom of centuries of deep knowledge to facilitate the highest levels of happiness and connection imaginable.