Do we treat our minds like our cars?

Mindfulness originally came from Buddhism and that’s how I first got into it many years ago. Nowadays Doctors, mental health practitioners, schools and even businesses are introducing it to their employees. I believe just about anyone can benefit from understanding and running their own mind.

In the run up to my next Mindfulness & Resilience Course I’m posting a few articles on the subject. Today I’ve come across this short audio clip / article from Buddhist monk Vishvapani that encapsulates the essence of Mindfulness and how people can benefit from it.

You can find the full text on the above link but here is an excerpt:

“… It’s been surprising for people like me, who have practised meditation and mindfulness in Buddhist settings for many years, that they’ve proved so relevant in mainstream settings like mental health. Mindfulness is widely used in the NHS to avoid relapse into depression. Yet the practices were originally intended for Buddhist monks and nuns, and others intent on following the Buddha’s spiritual path. The connection is that both settings require people to engage with their minds.

I sometimes think we treat our minds rather like our cars: most of us only consider how the engine works when it goes wrong. But when stress, anxiety or depression take hold we can no longer take our minds for granted.

We learn that our mental state is fundamental to everything we experience. Depression, for example, creates a veil that affects how we see the world, bleaching out colour and pointing our thoughts in unhelpful directions. So how can we access more helpful states and encourage more helpful thoughts? The organisers of Mental Health Awareness week value mindfulness because it helps people look after themselves and their own mental wellbeing in just that way. But facing difficulties is a universal challenge.

All of us face times of great excitement and times of loss and suffering. Buddhism suggests that these experiences challenge us to know our minds better. That’s an ethical as well as a psychological task – perhaps a spiritual one as well; and it can open up a different way to live. For Buddhists, the awareness mindfulness brings is the core of the Eight-fold path that touches every aspect of our experience. It’s encouraging to learn that our minds, which can lead us into such distress, also contain the resources we need to manage our difficulties. The seeds of resilience, kindness and wisdom are all there if only we can find them, nourish them and let them grow.”

Vishvapani Blomfield is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order and a regular contributor to Thought for the Day (here is a list of all his contributions), and he blogs at

Source: BBC – Thought For The Day