There are many definitions of mindfulness. The most quoted and workable definition is from Jon Kabat-Zinn:
- The kicker here is being nonjudgmental. Once we start paying attention, we come to realize that we are judging most of the time… ourselves, other people, the external world, etc.
- Being non-judgmental means that one cannot fail at mindfulness… you can always start now. Each moment of practice is unique and different.
- It is a form of mental training. The more you practice, the better you get at it. Early on in school we were told to pay attention and signify that we were present but no one taught us how to do this.
- It is a state of being and has to be experienced. Talks and workshops on mindfulness emphasize experiential learning rather than conceptual knowledge.
- Mindfulness is counterintuitive. Instead of clinging to what is pleasant and avoiding the unpleasant, with mindfulness we are simply aware of whatever sensations, thoughts or emotions are present without trying to change anything.
- Mindfulness allows us to step back in awareness from whatever situation we are in, which changes the way we relate to the situation. This way, instead of reacting, we can respond with more insight, kindness and wisdom.
- Having an intention is important before starting mindfulness. However, in the practice of mindfulness, the best results are achieved by not trying to achieve anything at all.
- The attitudes of Open Curiosity, Warmth, Kindness and Compassion are essential elements in mindfulness giving it an ethical and spiritual dimension. This is why mindfulness is also known as Heartfulness and Kindfulness.
- Now that we know what mindfulness is, we might think that we can just go and start being more mindful…if only it were that simple. We need to remember to remember to be mindful, and the way to do that is by practice.
- Poetry oftentimes touches us at a level which ordinary language cannot. To get a more felt sense of mindfulness, check out my favorite collection of quotes and poems on mindfulness (1, 2 and 3) at
Hopefully these insights have given birth to more insights and raised some questions.
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