What is Mindfulness?

Happy Woman in Mindfulness Based Stress ReductionMindfulness, in its simplest form, is the human ability of paying attention.

The best operational definition of mindfulness I have come across is by Jon Kabat-Zinn who introduced it in the west in 1979 as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR):

“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through: paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness is a state of being and as such has to be experienced rather than just talked about.

Oftentimes we are actually human “doings” rather than human “beings”. We run on automatic pilot, sleepwalking through life, only to discover that we have lived the same day countless times.

The well-developed doing-mode, also called the problem solving mode, benefits us in so many areas of our lives but can serve to increase our suffering when we bring it to bear on the experience of our thoughts and emotions.

In order to live a balanced life, we have to be able to shift from a doing to a being mode (also called mindful awareness), adjusting to what is most needed in the present moment.

The present moment is actually the only time in which we are alive. Our thoughts are often in the past which we cannot change, or are concerned about the future which has not happened.

Mindfulness practice is a form of mental training which allows us to be awake in the present moment with an attitude of curiosity and kindness to whatever is happening, be it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. It allows us to be aware of the sensations in our body, our thoughts and our emotions.

The practice has both formal and informal aspects. These include meditation, dialogue, reflective inquiry and mindful movement. The aim is to be able to bring this moment to moment attention to the tasks, experiences, and encounters of our ordinary life with a sense of calmness, inner balance and clear seeing.

Through practice, we become aware of our prejudices, the tendency to stereotype and to spiral into depressive rumination. With this insight, we are able to take wise and discerning action and react responsibly rather than reactively.

With practice, we remember to remember, to be mindful.

Mindfulness allows us to be fully present in the “is-ness” of the now, being in the full bloom of the present moment.

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Interview with Dr. Mansukhani

1. What is Mindfulness?

2. Why do we need to train our minds?

3. How did you get interested in Mindfulness?

4. Where did mindfulness start/originate? What are the roots of mindfulness?

5. What are the benefits of Mindfulness? Where can mindfulness be applied?

6. What does the practice of mindfulness be involve?

7. Is Mindfulness for Everyone?