Paradoxes of Mindfulness


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.

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Correspondence to Shauna Shapiro.

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Shapiro, S., Siegel, R. & Neff, K.D. Paradoxes of Mindfulness. Mindfulness 9, 1693–1701 (2018).

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  • Mindfulness
  • Paradox
  • Self-compassion
  • Acceptance
  • Change