Dr Naomi Appleton specialises in early Buddhist thought. In this Radio Four programme, one of the excellent OU/BBC History of Ideas series, she outlines the way in which suffering arises from craving, and ways in which we can learn to live “a good life”.
‘Mindfulness meditation’ is mental training that helps to create ‘new patterns of thinking’ and thereby enables us to observe our own cravings, and ultimately manage them or overcome them.
Overcoming our yearning for material things (or for non-material obsessions such as ‘romantic love’) is the key to finding contentment. We need to free ourselves from cravings in order to free up time and energy so that we can do the things that are really important to us, such as finding our element, following our true path in life and achieving tranquility.
‘Non-attachment’ and compassion are crucial outcomes of mindfulness practice – and can be developed through meditation.
When we pay proper attention to our transitory thoughts and feelings we become more aware of our inner states. [Consider how much time we spend on what’s external to us!]
The Wellcome Trust’s Mindfulness Project with young people aged between 11 and 14 aims to assess whether mindfulness training enables young people to lead better lives – to have better attention to themselves, to develop better relationships, and when under stress or pressure to respond to situations more skilfully and wisely. It’s about finding ways to live well and achieve wellbeing in the modern world – to give young people skills so that they can lead more effective and happier lives. Through emotional literacy we can all hope to become more emotionally intelligent as well as more socially intelligent.
This well presented programme concluded with the thought that ‘mindfulness’ has nothing to do with selfishness – that when we put other people first then we also feel happier and more fulfilled. We need to learn how to engage compassionately with the world. Such engagement needs to be fostered by an attitude of “non-attachment”, which is to say seeing ourselves and others around us for what we and what they really are, with no blurring or misunderstanding brought on by our individual emotional responses or cravings.
OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas
“A major 60-part radio series offers a fresh take on some of the big philosophical questions of our age”
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/radio/ou-on-the-bbc-history-ideas-buddhisms-four-noble-truths – A short animation narrated by Stephen Fry.
From our 3D Eye archives:
The Hawn Foundation and Mindfulness
See also our recent post on Anthony Seldon, wellbeing, going ‘beyond happiness’, and finding deeper meaning and joy.