/  Meditation   /  Where did modern mindfulness come from?
Where did modern mindfulness come from?

Mindfulness: The word can carry almost no meaning but has considerable gravity.  Mindfulness can’t be dismissed and has wiggled its way into Hong Kong corporate and home life.  It’s the latest must-have among traders who count in milliseconds and executives living on the Peak who can’t live without sleeping pills.  As well as those who shop at City Super, along with a matcha latte and the latest Lululemon.

But “mindfulness” actually has more exotic roots.  In the 19th century, at the golden age of the British Empire, Thomas Rhys David was Magistrate of Galle (Sri Lanka) and a Buddhism case was presented to him involving ecclesiastical law.  He learnt the Pali language when evidence was brought before him in that language.  In 1881, he roughly translated “sati” as mindfulness.  It literally means ‘memory’ but references mindful and thoughtful, and means that constant presence of mind.

In the 1970s, meditation and mindfulness was used more interchangeably as the practice began to lose its religious connotations.  Many atheists or secular people separated the benefits of meditation from specific religious beliefs.  Meditation, whether with a rosary or mala beads, was scrubbed of any specific beliefs.  It offered a general life philosophy, with obvious benefits in personal growth and even success strategies.

More recently, mindfulness applies to a range of meanings –  be it eating, working, birthing, parenting, or stress-relieving.  It’s a lifestyle and a social revolution.  A slow, grass-roots revolution that started thousands of years ago.  Now led by world leaders, from Michael Jordan to Ray Dalio, the 1%-ers have made mindfulness their own.  It’s no longer a behind-the-scenes part of a successful person’s lifestyle, it’s at the forefront of many companies.  The benefits of an attentive mindset, enhanced emotional intelligence and concentration to the task at hand is attractive to those who want to succeed in their life’s work.