The pillars of mindfulness are what make it effective in promoting good health and well-being and are also a preferred choice for some people. What are the seven pillars of mindfulness?
As the practice of mindfulness becomes increasingly popular worldwide, the seven pillars of mindfulness have emerged as key principles to guide the practice.
These pillars serve as a framework for cultivating a deeper sense of presence, attentiveness, and awareness in our daily lives, allowing us to more fully engage with the world around us.
The seven pillars invite us to explore areas such as non-judgment, patience, trust, acceptance, letting go, curiosity, and generosity.
By incorporating these principles into our lives, we can develop a more grounded and authentic connection with ourselves, others, and the world.
Whether you are new to mindfulness or have been practicing for years, the seven pillars can offer a powerful pathway to greater well-being and enlightenment.
Let’s dive in and explore each of these pillars in detail and learn how they can transform our daily lives.
So, what are the Seven Pillars of Mindfulness?
The seven pillars of mindfulness are:
- Beginner’s mind
- Letting go
Pillar 1: Non-judging
Being non-judgmental is one of the pillars of mindfulness, and it basically means that we try not to judge ourselves or others based on our opinions, thoughts, or feelings.
We all have a tendency to put labels on things and people around us, sometimes without even realizing it.
But when we practice mindfulness, we learn to become aware of these judgments and to let them go, so that we can accept things and people for who they really are.
Being non-judgmental also means being open-minded and curious, rather than closed off or critical.
This can help us to become more compassionate, tolerant, and understanding towards ourselves and others.
Being non-judgmental is about letting go of our biases and seeing things from a more objective perspective, without getting caught up in our own thoughts or emotions.
Examples of Judgmental Thoughts
- “This feeling is just a passing sensation, and it is not good or bad.”
- “I accept myself just as I am, without needing to change anything.”
- “I monitor my thoughts but don’t try to control them or be critical of them.”
- “I am aware of my emotions, but I do not let them control me.”
- “There is no right or wrong way to feel in this moment.”
- “I am open to whatever arises in this moment, without trying to force a particular outcome.”
Benefits of Non-judgment
- Reduces Negative Emotions: When one practices mindfulness with a non-judgmental attitude, it helps to reduce negative emotions such as self-doubt, anger, anxiety, and self-criticism.
- Increases Self-awareness: Non-judgmental awareness allows us to observe our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. It enables individuals to develop greater self-awareness, which leads to better emotional regulation and stress management.
- Reduces Stress: Non-judgmental awareness helps us to recognize our stressors and respond to them positively. It assists our body in relaxing and coping with the situation rather than getting stressed out.
- Increases Compassion: Non-judgmental awareness also leads to greater compassion for oneself and others. We start accepting others as they are and try to help them rather than judging them.
- Enhances Cognitive Flexibility: When we give up our judgmental nature, we become more open-minded and receptive to new possibilities. It improves our cognitive flexibility and creativity.
- Improves Interpersonal Relationships: The non-judgmental approach allows individuals to communicate without casting judgment and improves the quality of interpersonal relationships. It enables individuals to better understand one another and improve relationships.
Pillar 2: Patience
As we go about our daily lives, we often find ourselves rushing from one task to another, without taking the time to pause and be present in the moment.
With the hectic pace of modern life, it can be easy to become stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
But what if we told you that there is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you navigate these challenges? Enter patience – one of the pillars of mindfulness.
When we practice mindfulness, we cultivate an open, non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
And at the heart of this practice lies patience – the ability to remain present and accepting, even in the face of difficulty.
Here are some examples of how patience can manifest in mindfulness:
Examples of Patience in Mindfulness
- Letting Thoughts and Feelings Come and Go: One of the key tenets of mindfulness is that we observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. This means that we don’t try to push away negative emotions or cling to positive ones. Instead, we allow them to arise and pass away, like waves on the shore. Cultivating patience in this way helps us to develop resilience and emotional intelligence, as we learn to ride the ups and downs of life with greater ease.
- Taking Time to Pause and Reflect: Another way that patience shows up in mindfulness is through taking time to pause and reflect. When we are faced with a stressful situation or a challenging emotion, our instinct may be to react immediately – either by lashing out or shutting down. However, when we practice patience, we give ourselves the space to step back and assess the situation from a more objective perspective. This allows us to make wiser choices and respond in a more skillful way.
Benefits of Cultivating Patience in Mindfulness
- Reduced Stress and Anxiety: When we learn to be patient with ourselves and our experiences, we become less reactive and more grounded. This can help to reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, as we are no longer caught up in the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions.
- Improved Relationships: Patience is not just about how we relate to ourselves, but also how we relate to others. When we practice patience in our interactions with others, we are better able to listen, empathize, and communicate effectively. This can lead to deeper and more fulfilling relationships, both personally and professionally.
- Greater Self-awareness: As we develop the habit of being patient and present in our daily lives, we naturally become more attuned to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This heightened self-awareness allows us to better understand ourselves and our patterns of behavior, leading to greater personal growth and fulfillment. Importance of practicing patience
Techniques to Develop Patience
- Observe Your Thoughts: Simply noticing your thoughts without getting attached to them helps you develop patience. You realize that thoughts come and go, and you don’t have to act on them.
- Practice Mindfulness Meditation: Sitting in silence and focusing on your breath or another object helps you develop patience. You learn to sit with discomfort or restlessness and observe sensations without reacting to them.
- Slow Down: Slowing down and doing things mindfully, such as eating, walking, or talking, helps you develop patience. You learn to be present with the activity and savor each moment.
Pillar 3: Beginner’s Mind
Beginner’s Mind is one of the pillars of mindfulness, which refers to the state of having an open and receptive attitude towards our experiences.
This means letting go of preconceptions, assumptions, and expectations, and approaching each moment with a sense of curiosity and wonder, as if we were experiencing it for the first time.
Examples of Beginner’s Mind in Mindfulness
- When engaging in a simple task such as washing the dishes, approach it with a sense of curiosity about the textures, sounds, and movements involved.
- When listening to someone speak, try to let go of preconceived notions about what they might say or think, and instead listen with an open mind to their words and message.
- When practicing meditation, instead of getting caught up in thoughts or judgments about the practice, approach it with a fresh, beginners’ perspective.
Benefits of Beginner’s Mind in Mindfulness
- Reducing Stress and Anxiety: Beginner’s Mind takes us out of the “autopilot” mode in our brains, which can lead to rumination, worry, and stress. When we approach things with curiosity and an open mind, we engage with the present moment in a new way, reducing stress and promoting feelings of well-being.
- Increased Creativity and Productivity: Approaching tasks or situations with a sense of curiosity and openness can help us see things in a new light. This increased perspective and creativity can lead to greater productivity and problem-solving abilities.
- Deeper Connections with Others: By letting go of our preconceptions and assumptions, we can listen more deeply and connect with others in a more meaningful way.
Techniques to Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind
- Practice meditation: Meditation provides an opportunity to cultivate open awareness and observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment. Doing so helps us release our preconceptions and approach each moment with a beginner’s mindset.
- Practice gratitude: Cultivating a sense of gratitude for the present moment helps us approach it with a positive, open mindset.
- Take on a New Challenge: Doing something new or uncomfortable can help us practice Beginner’s Mind, as we approach it without past experiences or assumptions.
Pillar 4: Trust
As one of the pillars of mindfulness, trust refers to developing a sense of confidence, faith, and reliance on oneself, one’s abilities, and the present moment.
This includes trusting oneself to handle difficult thoughts and emotions, trusting the process of mindfulness practice, and trusting that positive changes can occur through consistent effort.
Examples of Trust in Mindfulness
- Trusting one’s ability to observe and acknowledge one’s thoughts and emotions without being overwhelmed by them.
- Trusting that taking a mindful pause before reacting can lead to a more thoughtful and compassionate response.
- Trusting that the present moment contains everything we need and that we can find peace and contentment in it by paying attention to it.
Benefits of Trust in Mindfulness
- Developing trust in oneself and the present moment can increase self-confidence and decrease anxiety and stress.
- Trusting the process of mindfulness can enhance its effectiveness and increase motivation to practice.
- Trusting that positive changes can occur through consistent effort can increase resilience and promote a growth mindset.
Techniques to Cultivate Trust in Mindfulness
- Practicing self-compassion and self-acceptance can help build trust in oneself.
- Setting realistic expectations and celebrating progress can increase confidence and trust in the process of mindfulness.
- Maintaining a consistent mindfulness practice can help develop trust in the present moment and its ability to provide what is needed.
Pillar 5: Non-striving
Non-striving is one of the essential pillars of mindfulness. It emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment without any external goals or attempts to change the current situation.
Instead, it focuses on accepting what is happening and observing with a non-judgmental attitude. Here are the subtopics explaining Non-striving in mindfulness.
Examples of Non-striving in Mindfulness
- When practicing mindfulness meditation, one focused on their breath and observes thoughts without trying to control them or push them away.
- Walking mindfully, one might notice the environment around without judgment and without the goal of arriving at a specific destination.
- During yoga or other movement-based practices, one can focus on the present moment, their breath, and sensations in their body without attempting to perform perfectly or compete with others.
Benefits of Non-striving in Mindfulness
- Non-striving helps reduce anxiety and stress as one learns to let go of control and attachment to outcomes.
- It reduces the pressure to achieve, leading to greater calm, joy, and clarity in life.
- Non-striving helps cultivate a sense of acceptance, presence, and compassion towards oneself and others.
Techniques to Cultivate Non-striving in Mindfulness
- Set an intention for mindfulness practice but avoid the pressure of having to achieve anything.
- Cultivate the mindset of curiosity and openness to what arises in the present moment.
- Observe the urge to control or make something happen without judgment and gently bring the attention back to the present moment.
- Practice self-compassion and non-judgment to keep from being so driven by self-criticism or desire for control.
Pillar 6: Acceptance
Acceptance is one of the key pillars of mindfulness. It refers to the practice of acknowledging and accepting the present moment as it is, without judgment or resistance.
It involves being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without trying to change or control them.
Examples of Acceptance in Mindfulness
- Acknowledging and accepting our thoughts and feelings, even if they are uncomfortable or challenging.
- Allowing physical sensations, such as pain or discomfort, to be present without trying to push them away.
- Accepting the present moment as it is, without wishing it were different or trying to change it.
- Letting go of resistance or judgment towards ourselves and others.
Benefits of Acceptance in Mindfulness
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety: When we accept the present moment as it is, we are less likely to feel stressed or anxious about it.
- Improves Emotional Regulation: Accepting our thoughts and feelings can help us regulate our emotions more effectively.
- Increases Self-awareness: By being more accepting of our experiences, we become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
- Enhances Resilience: Acceptance helps us build resilience by allowing us to bounce back from difficult experiences more easily.
Techniques to Cultivate Acceptance in Mindfulness
- Mindful Breathing: Focus on your breath and allow thoughts and sensations to arise and pass without judgment.
- Body Scan Meditation: Scan your body from head to toe, noticing any physical sensations without trying to change or resist them.
- Loving-Kindness Meditation: Practice cultivating a sense of love and compassion towards yourself and others, including those who may have caused you pain or difficulty.
- Labeling: Label your thoughts and emotions as they arise, without trying to change them or get caught up in them.
- Gratitude Practice: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation towards yourself and your experiences, even the challenging ones.
Pillar 7: Letting Go
“Letting Go” is another crucial pillar of mindfulness. It involves the practice of releasing attachments and letting go of the past or future, allowing us to fully engage with the present moment.
Examples of Letting Go in Mindfulness
- Letting go of negative thoughts or emotions that arise during meditation.
- Releasing attachment to specific outcomes or desires.
- Letting go of regrets about past experiences or worries about future events.
- Releasing expectations of ourselves or others.
Benefits of Letting Go in Mindfulness
- Reduces stress and Anxiety: Letting go of attachment to specific outcomes or worries about the future can help us reduce our stress and anxiety levels.
- Improves Decision-making: Letting go of biases and attachments to specific outcomes can help us make more informed and rational decisions.
- Increases Creativity: Letting go of past experiences and expectations can help us tap into our creative potential and explore new ideas and solutions.
- Enhances Relationships: Letting go of attachment to specific outcomes or expectations can help us cultivate healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
Techniques to Cultivate Letting Go in Mindfulness
- Mindful Breathing: Use your breath as an anchor to let go of thoughts and emotions that arise during meditation.
- Body Scan Meditation: Notice physical sensations without getting attached to them, allowing them to arise and pass without judgment.
- Non-judgmental Observation: Observe your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them, allowing them to arise and pass without attachment.
- Visualization: Imagine releasing negative thoughts or emotions into a flowing river or blowing them away like leaves in the wind.
- Gratitude Practice: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation towards the present moment, letting go of attachments to past or future events.
The seven pillars of mindfulness are crucial practices that can help us cultivate greater awareness, clarity, and inner peace.
Each of the pillars – non-judgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, acceptance, letting go, and non-striving – offers a unique set of benefits and techniques for cultivating mindfulness.
By incorporating these practices into our daily lives, we can learn to live in the present moment, reduce stress and anxiety, improve emotional regulation, enhance our relationships, and cultivate a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
With practice and commitment, we can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, leading to a more fulfilling and joyful life.
- The Seven Key Attitudes of Mindfulness
- Finding Peace: 7 Principles of Mindfulness
- J K-Z Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness Practice
- The Seven Pillars of Self-Care – KU Recreation Services
- Key principles for mindfulness practice
Adolescent and Adult Psychologist
Pyo Merez (PsyD) is a certified adolescent and adult psychologist who has been on the frontline of helping adolescents and adults with mental health. An expert in cognitive and developmental psychology - social relationships, cultural contexts, and individual differences. He is also a speaker and panelist on issues bordering on budding young people.