Mindfulness is a basic human quality, a way of paying wise attention to what is happening in our lives. It is the capacity to be aware of what is happening in the external world and also our internal world of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and moods, without reactivity. It allows us a greater sense of connection to life, inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness is also a practice – a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight and understanding.
Mindfulness is also Heartfulness. It incorporates caring for others and the environment. The ethical basis of Mindfulness – compassion, kindness, non-harm, interconnection and humility – is a great support for the practice. It is a lifetime’s work to embrace and embody these ways of being more fully.
Mindfulness is a practice and a way of being. As a practice it involves moment by moment attention, without judgementalness, in the present moment. As a way of being it is the awareness that emerges through this practice. It involves open, curious and kind orientation to oneself and the external world … to be in a caring relationship with our inner world (thoughts, feelings, moods, bodily sensations), with others and with the external environment. It is the basic human quality of being alert and awake – the opposite to being on automatic pilot.
The practice of Mindfulness starts with the body. In this way we develop an embodied way being. Developing mindfulness integrates our experience of being a person with a mind, a body and a heart.
We often associate the mind with thoughts and thinking. Mindfulness practice encourages us to investigate the awareness that can observe this thinking mind. As we develop our capacity to watch our thoughts we realise that we are not our thoughts. So Mindfulness is not about thinking – rather it is about understanding and relating to our thoughts in a new and more powerful way.
Mindfulness is the “awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgementally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2003