Mindfulness: central term

Mindfulness is widely known in today's world as a training, a way to bring awareness to our lives, popular psychology and a source of inspiration. However, even though mindfulness has become such a common term, many don’t know where the concept comes from. The term ‘mindfulness’ is central to the Buddha's teachings and one of the most frequently used technical terms in his speeches. The term comes up time and again when he explains how we can diminish our burdens of pain and suffering.

In the Buddha’s teachings, everything hinges around mindfulness. Literally. And surprisingly, modern psychology is increasingly coming to realize that mindfulness is a "root construct", which serves as a basis for many psychological concepts and insights. This points to the tremendous value of deepening our understanding of the roots of mindfulness and to explore how mindfulness is described in the Buddha's writings.

Meditation technique or way of life

The Buddha said: ‘Practicing mindfulness is the most direct way to awakening.’ This is one of the reasons why Jon Kabat-Zinn chose the mindfulness training as an entry point for westerners who may want nothing to do with Buddhism and could surely benefit from its fruits.

At the same time, we can see that the Buddha did not consider mindfulness as merely a meditation technique. He perceived it as a way of life and as a way of treating each other in the world. He literally says in his teachings that meditation alone does not lead to enlightenment. Ethics for example, he considers as at least just as important, appearing even earlier in his Eightfold Path to awakening.

Buddhism according to the Buddha

Buddhist traditions: what good are they?

Following his death, the Buddha's doctrine was spread far and wide. The various Buddhist traditions that have arisen throughout the world all have a distinct interpretation of Buddhism, and blended with local cultures and practices. In this way Chinese, Tibetan and Thai Buddhisms grew with beautiful inspirations and sometimes with the limitations of that local culture. Apparently, a universal Buddism does not exist. For us the question to explore: what can early Buddhis - apart from its later cultural interpretations - mean in our modern time, for our Western culture?

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Mindfulness in our countries (especially Europe and North America) is standing on the shoulders of giants: the masters who brought Buddhism to our times. But especially on top of the shoulders of one giant: the Buddha himself. If we want to know more about the roots of what we practice as mindfulness in our world today, then it is helpful to listen to what the Buddha had to say about it. And there are people who have studied this from a deep understanding of the time in which the Buddha lived and who attempt to provide a translation and understanding of his words to today's world.

Mindfulness and conscious living now:
questions for early Buddhism

What did the Buddha mean by the word mindfulness (sati)? Why did he deem it the most direct way of freeing ourselves from pain and suffering? What is the value in leading a more ethical and conscious life? Who are the ‘friends and family’ of mindfulness, those other practices and concepts that support mindfulness and, vice versa, mindfulness supports? And, most importantly, what helps to make mindfulness a lived reality, one that helps us live with awareness?  These are the questions that the Centrum voor Mindfulness' series on Mindfulness and Buddhism seeks to address.

A series of workshops

For this series, we have invited teachers that are specialized in ‘early Buddhism’, the form of Buddhism that existed before the emergence of traditions.  The teachers have often practiced intensively in several traditions (in Asia), as monks or nuns, and later distanced themselves from it in order to further develop themselves. Some are academics, most have written books and articles about the topic, and all have decades of experience studying and teaching the topic that they are most passionate about: how can we understand the words of the Buddha and how are they useful today?

How to make the most out of the series

If you’re interested, our suggestion would be to regularly attend this series, because from experience we know that the process of developing insight in Buddhist thought is supported by some continuous dedication of our interest and attention. However, there are no specific requirements for attending the workshops. The modules are designed in such a way that they can be attended as standalone events.

The themes of the series are based on the actual interests of the teachers and do not build on one another. We suggest you consider reading the suggested literature list for each workshop, though this is not a prerequisite to attending or even following any workshop.

Collaboration with Bodhi College

The workshops are often, though not exclusively, organized in collaboration with Bodhi College, a European institute that has as its objective to make early Buddhist teaching available for today. Many of the teachers are also linked to Bodhi College.


Below is the program for 2019 tot 2021. You can get more information about the workshops and the instructors by clicking on the workshop title or the teacher's name.

For whom

This series is for everybody who is interested in the background of mindfulness, in its modern form and as value in the traditions. It is also for those who wish to gain insights from the earliest form of Buddhism before it became a religion with traditions. You might be interested in the series because of your interest in mindfulness (you practice it, you have followed a training and want to know more for example). You are more than welcome also, if your interest in the series comes from a different vantage point. This series is especially relevant for individuals who propagate mindfulness such as mindfulness teachers, meditation teachers, or anybody else who draws from Buddhism for their professional interests. The workshop teachers are not bound to a specific tradition, religion or belief and their intention is to deepen the themes of the workshops in a spirit of free and open exploration.

Start date(s)

New dates will be published soon.
Registration will be possible when new dates are published.