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What is Mindfulness?

There are many different ways to define Mindfulness

Below are a few extracts of ideas from different organisations.

Choose one that best resonate with your own needs.

Mindful.org

  1. Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
  2. Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
  3. You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
  4. Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon. Here’s why:
  5. Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
  6. It’s a way of living.  Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
  7. It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
  8. It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” (“What Is Mindfulness?,” 2014).

Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself” (What Is Mindfulness?,” n.d.).

White Wind Zen Community

“Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing” (“The Meaning of Mindfulness,” n.d.).

Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment” (“Mindfulness definition | What is mindfulness,” n.d.).

Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles

“Mindful Awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one’s physical, mental and emotional experiences” (“Frequently Asked Questions,” n.d.).

Lifehacker

“Mindfulness has many synonyms. You could call it awareness, attention, focus, presence, or vigilance. The opposite, then, is not just mindlessness, but also distractedness, inattention, and lack of engagement” (Pinola, 2014).

Psychology Today

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present” (“Mindfulness,” n.d.).

Mayo Clinic

“Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every momentwithout interpretation or judgment” (“Can Mindfulness Exercises Help Me?,” 2018).

Reach Out

“Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they: (1) focus on the present moment, (2) try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future, (3) purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them, [and] (4) try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’” (“How to Practise Mindfulness,” n.d.).

Sideways Thoughts

“Mindfulness is a matter of being fully present in the moment” (Renando, 2014).

Definitions of Mindfulness According to Experts

The following people have all dedicated their lives to mindfulness. Read on to learn how they define the concept.

Daniel J. Siegel

“Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences.  . . . Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us awaken, and by reflecting on the mind we are enabled to make choices and thus change becomes possible” (Hampton, 2014).

Sharon Salzberg

“Mindfulness isn’t just about knowing that you’re hearing something, seeing something, or even observing that you’re having a particular feeling. It’s about doing so in a certain way—with balance and equanimity, and without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight” (2015).

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Mindfulness shows us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and in the world. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others.” 

Sylvia Boorstein

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” 

Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”