What Mindfulness Is and Isn't

Mindfulness means that we are practicing

Practicing reminds us that our understanding of what mindfulness means grows over time.

being aware of our present moment experience

It’s like taking the temperature of the mind-body system: what’s going on now, beginning with awareness of the breath and body. 

with the intention

Intention lets go of ‘should’ and ‘expectation’ and ‘doing it right.’ 

to be curious and

Think of the curiosity of a three-year old child or a scientist who loves his/her research.

to be kind, accepting, and non-judgmental toward ourselves and what we are experiencing. 

These three words are essentially interchangeable in pointing to the meditative attitude. One will generally resonate best for you.

Mindfulness is a quality of being that we cultivate over time.  Mindfulness meditation is being fully aware of what is coming in through the senses more clearly.

Accept does not mean passive resignation. It means being fully aware of how the mind-body-system is now. It means to accept that you are having the experience that you are having. When we are not accepting, we are either trying harder to concentrate or to have the experience we think we should have. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn has clarified non-judgmental: “it means suspending judgment. It doesn’t mean having no judgments or forcing oneself to be nonjudgmental. Rather it means that one doesn’t judge how judgmental one is.”….“By cultivating mindfulness, one is adding another dimension to the picture, but without trying to fix anything or make anything go away” [1]. This can break many long-standing habits that are not healthy, for example, rumination, resentment, carrying grudges, etc.

[1] “Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness,” Paulson, Davidson, Jha, and Kabat-Zinn, The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2013, p. 94.