What is Mindfulness?

The  present moment is the only time we 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 receptive, open, non-judgmental attitude of a curious, impartial  witness.  Mindfulness allows us to  handle whatever comes up in our  lives with greater calm and confidence, enabling us to respond to events  wisely, rather than reacting automatically  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  the 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 seven interrelated attitudes: Non-Judgment, 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.

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Listen to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn explain mindfulness.