What is Mindfulness?

The word mindfulness has been thrown around a lot in the past few years.  But What IS Mindfulness?

Mindfulness Is... the awareness that arises when you pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally."

Jon Kabat-Zinn

When we break down the elements of the definition of mindfulness it looks like this…

Paying Attention

When you pay attention, you do so with intention to whatever is in front of you in this moment. Paying attention specifically to the breath, to sensations in the body, thoughts and emotions, or other aspects of your current experience.

Have you ever driven somewhere and not remember driving at all because you were on “auto-pilot” with your mind running a thousand miles an hour the whole time? Or maybe you were texting, or on the phone, or trying to find something in your purse? ¬†We know now that¬†doing anything but paying attention to your driving while you’re supposed to be¬†driving can lead to disastrous consequences. ¬†

Nothing is more important than the one thing that deserves your full attention in the moment.  Our world is plagued by thousands of preventable tragedies every day.

On Purpose

On purpose means with intention.  Choosing to be aware.

In the Present Moment

The only time you have to live is the present moment. ¬†The past does not exist (only memories do), and the future does not exist (only thoughts of¬†what might be). ¬†When you get caught up in the past or the future you¬†suffer as well. ¬†Your thoughts about the past or the future are what¬†contribute to that suffering. ¬†If you are feeling guilty about something you should have said or done, does the guilt change the event? Is there an¬†opportunity in the present moment to say what you feel should have been said,¬†or to do what you feel should have been done? ¬†If so, do it. ¬†If not,¬†see the situation the way it is, and do what is possible, rather than ruminate¬†about what isn’t possible.


We are hard enough on ourselves as it is.  Give yourself a break.  When judgment comes up you can acknowledge that it is there without getting wrapped up in guilt or shame.  You can let it go just as easily as dropping a pebble from your hand.

Judging yourself or someone else is not helpful.¬† We all make mistakes and we all do things that we wish that we hadn’t. Dropping the judgment gives us permission to be human and allows us to move forward without the baggage and with the intention to be more mindful next time.¬†

It took a lot of time to create the habits that you have.  It will take time to change them, and it can be done, with repetition of the new behavior instead of the old. 

So, you ate the double chocolate brownie dessert, when you told yourself you would stay away from sweets. Beating yourself up, calling yourself names, or falling into despair doesn’t help you to get back on track.¬† No need to judge.¬† You had the dessert.¬† Bring more mindfulness to the next time you are faced with the decision whether to indulge or not.¬† If you do decide to indulge – do it mindfully.¬† You may find out that it didn’t taste as good as you thought, or you could just have a couple of bites and be satisfied.

The more you bring a mindful present moment attention, without judgement to everything that you do you will find more enjoyment in the things that you do, and be able to make more choices, in the moment, that serve you.

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