What are the 7 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?
Being in the moment
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction- 7 Attitudinal Foundations
Not labelling anything as being ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’
Having patience with everyone and everything.
Imagine how it would be if you were seeing and experiencing everything for the first time
Trust in Yourself
Your feelings are your feelings; trust and honour them.
Focusing on being in each moment, and accepting them as they are.
Acknowledging and accepting things as they are
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just the best that it can be in the moment.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness is not only practiced during meditation, it can also become a way of life.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Centre for Mindfulness, Medicine, Healthcare and Society, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can reduce anxiety and bring better balance to your life.1
Change your perspective
Change your perspective, change your life:
Pick up a pen, pencil, a flower or any other object and hold it about 2 inches from your face.
Examine the color, texture and pattern of the object .
Chances are you’re finding it a bit difficult to see it clearly.
Now move the object far enough away from your face so you can focus on it, and examine it again.
Was it easier this time?
The same applies to situations or problems in life. When we’re too close to them, it’s difficult to see clearly. MBSR helps us to step back from life and see things from a different perspective.
Jon Kabat-Zinn2 identified 7 “attitudinal foundations” for mindfulness practice. This means that the attitude we bring to our everyday life can affect the outcome of situations, and to our overall perspective. They are all similar and some even overlap a little, but each one also has unique qualities.
1st Attitudinal Foundation: Non-Judging
This means not labelling anything as being ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. This includes but is not exclusive to:
- Your emotions
- Your body (whether it’s sick, tired, over-weight, under-weight, etc)
- Situations you find yourself in
- Experiences you have
Of course, you might find that you automatically make these judgements, but don’t try to stop it. Just be aware of it.
2nd Attitudinal Foundation: Patience
This means having patience with everyone and everything.
Just as breaking the chrysalis of a butterfly does not help it to emerge any faster; trying to force things to happen before they are ready to is not always helpful.
- Take some time to watch how things unfold before you jump in.
- Listen when people are speaking rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
- Have patience with yourself.
- Be in THIS moment, rather wishing you were in another moment of time.
- You must live through this moment anyway, so appreciate its qualities and learn from its problems.
Don’t worry if you forget to be patient. Just observe when you are and when you are not.
3rd Attitudinal Foundation: Beginner’s Mind:
Imagine how it would be if you were seeing and experiencing everything for the first time. Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you:
- It’s easier to see something from a new perspective if we suspend our current beliefs and attitudes towards it
- Sometimes what we know, or think we know about something can prevent us from being open to new perspectives about it.
- This can also apply to people.
- Don’t worry if you forget to do it sometimes. Just observe when you do and when you don’t.
4th Attitudinal Foundation: Trust in yourself
Sometimes when we’re unsure of ourselves, we feel the need to check with others that what we are doing or feeling is right. But your feelings are your feelings; trust and honor them.
- Also trust your actions, your intuition, you ability to make decisions.
- By trusting yourself, you are also taking responsibility for yourself
- Trusting yourself doesn't mean trying to do something for which you no knowledge or skills, but it can mean choosing the right person with the right skills to help you.
- Trust yourself to have the life-skills of love, patience, kindness, intuition, and the ability to learn.
- Don’t worry if you sometimes forget. Just observe when you do trust in yourself and when you don’t.
5th Attitudinal Foundation: Non-Striving
This means focusing on being in each moment, really seeing how and where things are, and accepting them as they are.
- Accepting things as they are does not mean allowing them to remain so
- It can mean accepting that some planning is required to change things.
- But while you are planning, and carrying out those plans, remain in the moment.
- Just wanting or wishing things to be other than they are does not make them so. Accepting things as they are and planning to make them otherwise, does.
6th Attitudinal Attitude: Acceptance
Similar to non-striving, this is about acknowledging and accepting things as they are, right now, rather than ignoring or side-stepping them.
- Acceptance does not mean leaving things as they are.
- If you are upset, sick or in pain, accept that you are upset, sick or in pain.
- Trying to pretend that everything is okay when clearly it is not, can actually make things worse.
- This is not the same as wallowing.
- This does not mean that you have to resign to things staying the same
- It means acknowledging it and planning for ways to solve it.
- By accepting, we get a clear picture of where you are, and where you can go from here.
7th Attitudinal Attitude: Letting Go
Letting go is similar in some ways to several of the other attitudinal foundations.
- Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of our idea of perfection.
- This does not mean settling for second best-rather accepting how things are right now.
- Fussing and fretting that things are not as you want them to be is not helpful.
- Accepting how things are, and planning to change them, is more helpful.
- Give things time to unfold. Sometimes they work out better than expected.
- Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, just the best that can it can be in the moment.
- You don’t need to control everything and everyone around you.
In order to integrate these attitudes into everyday life, we can set our intention to do so. Setting Intention is a really powerful yet simple tool and can be applied in lots of situations.
Simple say to yourself “ today I intend to be non-judgemental” (for example).
Say it with conviction, but you only need to say it once. Then continue with your day as normal. There’s no need to continually remind yourself of your intention.
You’ll more than likely find that you will have followed your intention most of the time.
Daily Practice of MBSR Attitudinal Foundations
- Set your intention in the morning to practice one of the attitudinal foundations. Then let it go and get on with your day as normal.
- If you find during the day that you have not been practising it, don't worry. The simple fact that you did think of it means that you have reinforced the intention.
- Then, in the evening, think back over the day. Was there anything you reacted to differently than you might have, had you not set that intention? Is this something you think you would like to cultivate in your life generally?
My gift to you: A guided mindfulness meditation
1. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness. New York: Delacorte.
2. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life.New York: Hyperion.