, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 1693–1701 | Cite as

Paradoxes of Mindfulness

  • Shauna ShapiroEmail author
  • Ronald Siegel
  • Kristin D. Neff


This paper represents an attempt to highlight the paradoxes of mindfulness practice. Because mindfulness is a subtle form of awareness that does not stem from rational cognitive thought, its practice often involves embracing contradictions in a way that transcends logic. We first define mindfulness as involving three core aspects: intention, attention, and attitude. We then highlight four paradoxes of mindfulness that we believe to be especially salient for the field: (1) Acceptance vs. Change, (2) Escape vs. Engagement, (3) Effort vs. Non-Striving, (4) Self-Focus vs. Non-Self. Finally, we discuss the importance of ongoing dialog about these paradoxes both for practitioners and for those teaching mindfulness in clinical contexts.


Mindfulness Paradox Self-compassion Acceptance Change 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Participants and Animal Studies

There was no research involving human participants and/or animals.

Informed Consent

There was no informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shauna Shapiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronald Siegel
    • 2
  • Kristin D. Neff
    • 3
  1. 1.Santa Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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