August 26, 2020 in Sociology
The Development of Mindfulness in China


In the context of well-being, mindfulness is considered an appropriate solution to many of life’s challenges. Mindfulness in this case is considered as more of an art of living that enables the individual to live in the present rather than spending their whole lives oscillating between the past and the future. Most people spend their whole lives working for a better future or wishing they could go back to the past. Mindfulness generally enables the individual to focus on the present and thus make the most out of their lives. The result is satisfaction and some level of inner peace that comes, as an individual is focuses on his or her present and gets an opportunity to appreciate his or her life as it is. In a scientific context, mindfulness is known to significantly improve the health of the individual based on its benefits in a cognitive context. This explains why psychotherapists are embracing the practice all over the world. In China, mindfulness has been accepted as a path to a more fulfilling life; however, historical and cultural contexts define the state of mindfulness presently and in future.

Historical contexts for mindfulness in China

As a concept for well-being, mindfulness is mainly about being able to take charge of one’s life with all potential and flaws and generally accepting mistakes and making them work. Therefore, in mindfulness an individual essentially has to stop worrying about what will be or regretting about what should or could have been and instead focus on what is. China is known as a historically religious society with Buddhist and Maoist as well as Taoist influences in the past. As a religion, Buddhism is said to have a significant amount of common points with mindfulness meditation. First, all the three religions preached and emphasized on the practice of mindfulness and visualization where the individual was supposed to pay attention to their being and to simply get in touch not only with their bodies but also their thoughts and their feelings.

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Meditation in this case was some form of a cleansing rite where the individual is meant to find peace and clarity with respect to their lives regardless of what they were going through at the time. In Buddhism, the four foundations of meditation were meant to foster well-being and inner peace in the individual given that they enabled them to reconnect with their whole being from physical to spiritual and mental as well as emotional. This means that mindfulness was more about getting to pay attention to the individual’s specific contexts without interference or distraction from the rest of the world. In Taoist meditation, stress relief and finding inner peace are the main goals. However, spiritual enlightenment was also considered a good outcome when meditating. This means that in the past, Taoists relied on meditation to obtain clarity and inner peace as well. The same factors apply to Maoist meditation thus implying that the ancient Chinese people really believed in meditation as a way for them to attain completion. In some cases, meditation was even known to ground them and place them back in touch with nature in order to attain the perfect balance of life. This explains why there were many cases of meditating in the open, by the river or even high in the mountains. The monks were not the only ones meditating although a great deal of the wise men in ancient China spent a lot of their time in meditation. Paying attention simply enabled one to be more knowledgeable in whichever path they had chosen.

Mindfulness in Modern Chinese Culture

The religious aspect of meditation in China can be considered as long gone considering that most of the Chinese people no longer abide by the ancient religious practices or even beliefs. Despite being a unique culture, it can be noted that the Chinese people also became victims of imperialism at some point in history and to a greater extent lost some of their original cultural contexts and practices. This explains why most of the people from China are only considered Chinese based on their use of the Chinese language and their physical appearance. For the most part, they are relatively modernized and thus removed from the ancient Chinese culture.

The modern Chinese culture can be likened to McDonaldization in the sense that an average Chinese adult is likely to be the same as an average American adult in the context of their tastes and preferences from food to fashion and even media content. Chinese people currently eat burgers and French fries, they wear the usual t-shirts and jeans and they watch YouTube for interesting shows and music videos just as they would if they were in the US. This means that there are two main culprits when it comes to the modernization in China and these are globalization and imperialism.

Globalization is the phenomenon used to explain how the world has become smaller in the sense that people are able to interact without really having to be in the same geographical location. Businesses are able to operate across national boundaries and thus customers have access to the same quality of products regardless of their location in the world. The product reviews are also accessible universally, meaning that customers in China are likely to know what McDonald products not to buy and what products would be worth their money. Generally, the world has become a very small place where information is readily shared in the click of a button. This explains why when the American psychotherapists decided to embrace the use of mindfulness meditation as a way of helping with cognitive problems it did not take long for the Chinese people to appreciate the relevance of mindfulness in attaining well-being especially considering that their ancestors have a rich history of practicing mindfulness meditation.

Imperialism is in most cases considered as an outcome of globalization but in one way or another, imperialism may have started way before globalization became an actual concern in the world. Imperialism generally means a situation where one culture is able to impose itself on another culture. In the case of the Chinese populace, it can be noted that the western cultures have been particularly dominant. Chinese people, especially in the later generations, tend to identify themselves more as global citizens rather than just Chinese. This means that they are more open minded and able to take on new challenges with the rest of the world. The Chinese currently have numerous common practices with the west within the social environment from socializing to language and even feeding habits among other things. Even the morals and general expectations of the average Chinese individual are more aligned with those of other societies in the west. This explains why mindfulness meditation did not take long to get into China.

The Future

In order to appreciate what the future holds for China in terms of the mindfulness meditation as a practice for attaining well-being, one would have to consider a number of things about the Chinese people. First, these people have had a rich history of meditation and while they are more modernized than most of the Asian population, they like to be portrayed as a people that are proud of their history. Meditation is thus just another modern fad that can be tied to Chinese history. This means that even without the necessary religious ties, the Chinese people are likely to have a very easy time identifying with the practice of mindfulness meditation and thus embracing it as part of their routine for well-being. A second consideration is in the fact that among other things, mindfulness meditation works. Like many people in the world currently, the average Chinese adult has to deal with a lot of pressure from work and life alike. This means that they need a way to sit back and appreciate their lives even for a short time on a regular basis. The meditation is considered an effective way to, not only get rid of bad habits, but also to live a generally satisfying life with minimal regret and more appreciation for the present. The challenges in the Chinese society are rather similar with those in most of the other middle income and high-income nations in the world, and a majority of the middle class and low class populations need a cheap and effective way of managing their stress levels. With time, the population is likely to embrace meditation wholly as a way of ensuring success in life in general.


Like many other global phenomena that start small and spread out wildly after some time, the success for meditation can be attributed to its effectiveness in alleviating stress and ensuring that the individual is able to focus on the present and thus regain full control of their lives. This is something that most people have lost along the way as they strive to find happiness, a relative and elusive concept that is yet to be defined conclusively. The Chinese are able to embrace meditation readily due to their rich spiritual history and their flare for western habits and contexts.


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