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gary e. davis
June 22, 2017

Given the beginning of ‘mind’ as a term for attentive care, ‘mindfulness’ associates to that beginning rather than to a modern, technical sense of intellectuality. Yet, the term standardly doesn’t suggest well a fullness of minding or holism of attentive care that interests humanistic psychologists and educators. But the term easily can be regarded that way.

‘Mindfulness’ standardly (lexically) relates to both a state of affairs (re: mind as noun) and a kind of action (re: mind as verb). ‘Mind’ is deverbative: “derived from a verb”; and ‘mindfulness’ echoes that fact. ‘Mindfulness’ is defined as “the quality or state of being mindful” and also “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis,” i.e., the practice of being mindful. But ‘mindful’ itself is more simply defined: “bearing or keeping in mind: aware.” So, the dictionary provides a richer sense of being mindful for its definition of ‘mindfulness’ than for its definition of ‘mindful’.

“All things considered,” one commonly says, being mindful is attentive care for all relevances: all modes of relationship, all aspects of context in caring about someone or something. We commonly remind ourselves and others that both parts and whole are equally important—all parts of the whole and all interplays of parts that comprise the whole. In life, wholes and gestalts emerge from the interplay of parts. A gestalt is found in a pointillism, phenomenally emerging (even though we know that all of the points were there before we see the gestalt). Holism is a disposition, a perspective, a kind of importance that we highly value (hold to be highly important) because all relevances are there in play, whether we appreciate that or not.

One heuristic for mindfulness is bearing in mind that focus and horizon belong together. If minding is attentive care (focal horizonality?), then mindfulness is an especial devotion to minding—minding well. That’s a twofold attentiveness that could be called Janus-faced: keeping attuned to the full background of relevance and for the full presence of what’s in attention. That background can be heuristically regarded as keeping in mind “all” externality, all internality, all tangible presence, all intangible presence—outerworldliness, innerworldliness, concrete, abstract. Yet, those four are two 2-folds “perpendicular” to each other: concrete outerworldliness (literal horizons), concrete innerworldliness (embodiment, mortality), abstract outerworldliness (ecology), abstract innerworldliness (full conceptuality). That can be further detailed as a Janus-faced fourfolding.


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