Let’s start with answering the question by looking a a few definitions by well-know mindfulness practitioners and teachers:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, University of Massachusetts Medical Center
“A mental state achieved by focusing one‘s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Online Oxford Dictionary
“Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Marlatt & Kristeller
“Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience, with openness, interest and receptiveness.”
The Happiness Trap
Mindfulness Quick Links:
Mindfulness in plain English
What is mindfulness?
Let me explain it by way of a practical example:
Imagine that you have long hair and that you are brushing it in long soothing strokes. As you brush your hair, you are acutely aware of the sensations and how you are responding to these sensations.
You are perfectly in the moment. Nothing else matters – it is only you and the brushing of your hair and the sensations you feel.
When your thoughts and awareness wanders away, you purposefully pull them back to what you were doing and experiencing. You are actively controlling your thoughts and shaping your mind.
Most of our thoughts are based in the past or in the future. We are constantly thinking about what happened, how and why it happened and what it might mean. The same is true for thoughts about the future. We are constantly planning, worrying or dreaming about what is going to happen.
Being mindful means that we only concentrate on the here and now. The past is gone and the future is but a fantasy. What matters is now. When you do think about the past and future, you do that with the awareness of the now in mind.
When we are in the moment, we don’t attach specific meaning to thoughts coming to mind. We know it is there, but that every moment is of a passing nature and need not elicit a reaction, since it will belong to the past in a moment.
You simply observe it and let it drift away without attaching any emotional or rational value to it.
Benefits of practicing of mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness and living in the moment can be life changing and will at the very least, change how you see and experience your life.
It will teach you to:
• Separate you from your thoughts,
• Objectively work through negative emotions,
• Be alert of that in your life that you tend to avoid,
• Practice self-awareness, – empathy, and -tolerance,
• Have sharper awareness of the real world instead of what you think it is,
• Enjoy peace, calmness and balance,
• Accept that change is constant and non threatening,
• Stay in the moment.