The present moment is the only one we will ever have to live: to experience anything, accomplish anything, to heal and to grow. The past is memory and the future is imagination.
Mindfulness is a way paying attention to one’s present moment life experience with the open, non-judgmental attitude of a curious, impartial witness. Mindfulness allows us to handle whatever comes up in our lives with equanimity and clarity, enabling us to respond to events wisely, rather than reacting automatically and perhaps counterproductively when we are hijacked by our emotions.
Being mindful is a way of being. For example, we practice being mindful by noticing things we often take for granted, like noticing the flow of your breath as you sit here, or noticing the sounds around you as you read this. It is also a skill that is cultivated through practice - much like learning to play the piano or golf or becoming physically fit.
The constellation of eight interrelated attitudes: Non-Judgment, Curiosity, Patience, Beginner's Mind, Trust, Non-Striving, Acceptance, and Letting Go, form the foundation of this attitude of mind called mindfulness. Each of these qualities enhances our ability to be truly present in our lives - awake and aware from moment to moment instead of experiencing life indirectly, through the lens of our perceptions, hijacked by our emotions, and feeling stressed.
The ultimate challenge of mindfulness is choosing to be fully alive - waking up to, and embracing the full range of the human condition - not only the pleasant and joyful moments, but the painful, the sad, and the frightening ones as well.
Mindfulness Meditation is not about achieving any particular state. While calmness and concentration are qualities of mindfulness, Insight Meditation (known as Vipassana) also involves investigation: bringing interest and curiosity to present moment experience. Together, these factors create the possibility of insight - the understanding that liberates us from our self- limiting beliefs and self-centred obsessions and aversions, and enables us to live life more richly and make wise decisions for ourselves.
The cultivation of mindfulness has been demonstrated by research to be a very powerful way for people to take control of their own health and meet the range of challenges arising from medical and psychological conditions and everyday life stresses.
Listen to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn explain mindfulness.