Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.
Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the frustrating fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.
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. I invite you to try Mindfulness for 2-5 minutes a day for 7 days: register for our free class A Taste of Mindfulness today!
Yet no matter how far we drift away, mindfulness is right there to gently guide curiousity to where we are and what we’re doing and feeling. If you want to know what mindfulness is, it’s best to try it for a while. Since it’s hard to nail down in words, you will find slight variations in the meaning in books, websites, audio, and video. Here’s an all-purpose definition that treats mindfulness as a quality that every human being already possesses, rather than something we have to conjure up:
While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, practice, particularly seated, walking, standing or in the astronaut position and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep); short pauses we insert into everyday life; and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.
When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our empathy for others.
Mindfulness meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.
By using informal and formal Mindful Practices — we allow ourselves to make Mindulness sustainable!