Mindfulness Symbol – What Does It Represent?

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Mindfulness is the act of being rooted to the present and being fully aware of immediate surroundings and feelings. The mindful symbol is a pictorial representation that aids an individual to attain this state of mindfulness and forego thoughts of the past and future.

The symbol itself is quite simple, similar to the appearance of a drop of water splashing into a pool. But within this lies complex symbolism. Here’s a look at the mindfulness symbol and what it represents.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. — Buddha

Origins and History of the Mindfulness Symbol

Mindfulness is a meditative state of being promoted in in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. It has been practiced in these and several ancient religions for thousands of years. In Buddhist rituals, mindfulness is based on the principle of Sati, and is an integral part of meditation and contemplation.

The concept of mindfulness gained popularity in Europe and America from the 1960’s onwards. This was a time when youth strove to move away from traditional religious practices. Young people looked for a spiritual awakening without the ties of formal religions. Mindfulness proved to be an effective way to be spiritually rooted without the hassle of religion.

Influenced by the idea of mindfulness, Cibulskisa, a Lithuanian graphic artist, invented and conceptualized a symbol to help people meditate and stay rooted to the present. The symbol is widely accepted by psychologists, philosophers and spiritual guides, and its rising popularity has also paved the way for research, which investigates the use of the mindful symbol for treating psychiatric disorders.

Characteristics of the Mindfulness Symbol

The mindfulness symbol looks like a water droplet that is mirrored on the top and bottom.  The goal of the meditator or spiritual practitioner is to look upon the central droplet, which will aid him/her in focusing on the present.

The idea is to concentrate on the now, rather than worrying about the future or contemplating on the past, both of which are illusions. Without mindfulness, the mind wanders and can cause problems. This symbol is a reminder to focus on what matters.

The symbol has a vertical and horizontal aspect to it. The vertical aspect represents time – past, present and future. The horizontal aspect represents space all around us. The aim is to focus on the center of time and space.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

― Bruce Lee

Significance of the Mindfulness Symbol

Meaning of mindfulness symbol

The mindfulness symbol is mostly used to instigate wakefulness and focus on the present. There are several other related meanings of the mindfulness symbol, and some of them will be explored below.

  • Symbol of tranquillity: The mindfulness symbol instigates an absolute calm on the individual who meditates or visualizes it. The symbol aids in a temporary forgetfulness of worries and concerns.
  • Symbol of the present: The mindfulness symbol has been designed with the sole purpose of existing in the present.  All ancient philosophies teach that an individual can be at peace only when he/she lets goes of the past and concentrates on the here and now.
  • Symbol of stillness: The mindfulness symbol is useful for remaining static in a world of noise and chaos. By concentrating on the central point of the symbol, the practitioner can remain absolutely still and concentrate on the present.
  • Symbol of awareness: The mindfulness symbol is used to evoke a greater awareness of one’s self. By looking at the symbol or meditating upon it, the individual forms a greater connection and understanding towards the self.

Contemporary Usage of The Mindfulness Symbol

The mindfulness symbol has been used in contemporary times to treat anxiety, stress, addiction, depression, and trauma. It also aids in preventing physical ailments resulting out of mental illness.  The symbol has been used in various places such as prisons, hospitals, and schools, as an emblem of hope and inspiration.

The symbol has become a popular image for tattoo, due to its universal meaning and relatability. It’s also often depicted on jewelry, especially on charms, pendants, earrings and bracelets. It’s a consistent reminder to stay present.

In Brief

Mindfulness is one of the most effective ways to stay focused and concentrate on the present.  In our fast-paced world, a symbol like this can help individuals pause, keep calm, and breathe. The mindfulness symbol is gaining popularity in jewelry, medallions, tattoos, cups, and books.