Mindfulness, 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.
For an excellent overview of MBSR and mindfulness as a whole, watch the video: How Can Mindfulness Change Your Life/ Widening the Circle of Mindfulness
A great resource on the scientific study of mindfulness with mindfulness research and practices updated monthly: Mindfulness Research Guide: (free subscription with small donation recommended)
Alidina, Shamash. Mindfulness for Dummies 2nd Ed. UK: Wiley, 2015
Alidina, Shamash. Mindfulness at Work for Dummies. UK: Wiley, 2010
Collard, Patricia. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Dummies. England: Wiley, 2013
Crane, Rebecca. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. England and New York: Routledge, 2009
Dobkin Pl and Hassed CS. Mindful Medical Practitioners. Switzerland: Springer, 2016
Gunaratana, Ven. Henepola. Mindfulness in Plain English. USA: Bhavana Society, 1990
Hougaard, R, Carter Jand Coutts G. One Second Ahead. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016
__Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. New York: Bantam, 1990, 2013
__Wherever You Go, There You Are.New York: MJF, 1994
__Coming to Our Senses.New York: Hyperion, 2005
Langsur E and Klemp N. Start Here. New York: North Start Way, 2016
Rechtschaffen Daniel. The Mindful Education Workbook. New York: W.W. Norton, 2016
Santorelli, Saki. Heal Thyself: Lessons in Mindfulness in Medicine. New York: Bell Tower, 1999
Sayadaw M. Manual of Insight. MA USA: Wisdom Publications, 2016
Schonert-Reichl KA and Roeser RW Ed. Handbook of Mindfulness in Education. New York:
Springer , 2016
Segal Z, Williams M. and Teasdale J. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression 2nd Ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2013
Smally S. and Winston D. Fully Present:The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness. Philadelphia: Da Capo, 2010
Teasdale J, Williams M. and Segal Z.The Mindful Way Workbook. New York: Guilford Press,2014
Williams, Mark, and Danny Penman. Mindfulness : A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World. London: Little Brown, 2011
Williams M and Kabat-Zinn J, Editors. Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on Its Meaning , Origins and Applications. USA and Canada: Routledge, 2013
More Recommended Books:
Altman, Donald. One Minute Mindfulness. California: New World Library 2011
Ben-Shahar, Tal. Choose the Life You Want: The Mindful Way To Happiness. New York: The Experiment, 2012
Dillard-Wright D, Spear H and Munier P. 5 Minute Mindfulness: Simple Daily Shortcuts to Transform Your Life.USA: Adams Media, 2012
Gelles, David. Mindful Work. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2015
Gibbs, N Editor. Mindfulness: The New Science of Health and Happiness. New York: Time Inc.
Goldstein E and Stahl B. MBSR Everyday: Daily Practices from the Heart of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. CA: New Harbinger, 2015
Goldstein E and Stahl B. MBSR Everyday: Daily Practices from the Heart of Mindfulness Based
Stress Reduction. CA: New Harbinger, 2015
Harris, Dan. 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self- Help That Actually Works – A True Story. Harper Collins e-books, 2014
McKenzie S and Hassed C. Mindfulness for Life. New Zealand: Exisle, 2012
Siegel, Ronald. The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. New York: Guilford, 2010
Snel, Eline. Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for kids (and Their Parents). Boston: Shambala, 2013
___Sane New World: Taming the Mind. UK: Hodder and Stoughton, 2013
___ Frazzled. UK: Penguin Random House, 2016
Zinser, Anabelle. Small Bites: Mindfulness for Everyday Use. California: Parallax, 2012