The Process of Peace: Mindfulness as a Fundamental Key
Frank A.M. Vernooij
Master of Science, St. Antonius Hospital, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, The Netherlands
Series: Psychology of Emotions, Motivations and Actions
In this chapter we would like to show that mankind has to deal with a lasting disquietude as a consequence of polarities, basic to existence itself, and a multitude of different, and often opposing forces coming from them. Because tension and unbalance belong to the universal condition of life, it is therefore meaningless to define a state of peacefulness as an absence of tension or unrest. Peace must have to do with coming to terms with these forces and creating a new kind of unity. We will propose a definition starting from this concept of unity, meaning transcending opposing forces while, nevertheless, these forces continue to exist.
Peace is a state and process that will continue to demand effort. We will describe how, for thousands of years now, the skills of mindfulness have been promoted as the fundamental way of attaining this state, coming to peace with oneself and one’s environment. Mindfulness is defined as being aware and paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. It is a skill as well as an attitude of living. In the last ten years much research has been done in mindfulness-based interventions in regular psychological care. The inherent peaceful attitude, seeing things as they are, nonjudgmentally has an immediate relevance, too, to taking a peaceful stand in the outside the world. We explore how mindfulnesstraining could be of benefit in peace-education and for workers in conflict-related situations.
The specific psychotherapeutic skill of ‘experiential focusing’, which focuses on bodily experiences is based on a mindful attitude and proves effective on a symbolic level. We relate the meaning of symbols to recent research about the working of the two hemispheres of the brain. This leads us to a reevaluation of the working of symbolic expressions in thinking about, and experiencing existential problems as peace, and also to a reevaluation of the relevance and significance of symbols for theory and research in humanities. We will explore the symbol ‘heart’ in this context. (Imprint: Nova)