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What is Mindfulness?

Sometimes it helps to understand what mindfulness is by clarifying what it is not.

Mindfulness is:
  • Paying attention to the present moment on purpose and non-judgmentally (Jon Kabat-Zinn “Full Catastrophe Living”)
  • Being aware of your experience while it is taking place
  • Connecting to your five senses and observing the changing landscape of your mind
  • Seeing with looking, hearing with listening, doing with experiencing (Susan Bauer-Wu “Leaves Falling Gently”)
  • Befriending your experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant (Susan Bauer-Wu)
Mindfulness is not:
  • Trying to achieve a special state of mind. It is not a relaxation exercise to calm or relax the body or to change the breathing pattern. With mindfulness you’re not looking to change or fix anything, but rather bringing awareness to your experience exactly as it is right now.
  • Zoning out or transcending your experience. Mindfulness is alert and attentive to the present moment. It is zoning in and turning toward what is happening. Distracting yourself or imagining that you are somewhere else is the antithesis of mindfulness. *Note: In this program we also provide opportunities to practice visualization, a different kind of meditation that uses your imagination . We suggest that visualization is useful in specific situations when mindfulness may be challenging – particularly to distract yourself in acute moments.
  • Positive thinking. While mindful, you will observe positive, negative and neutral thoughts. You use this opportunity of awareness to clearly see patterns of thinking and regard them equally as informative.
  • Something to do. You already have the capacity of awareness and as soon as you remember to be mindful, it is available to you. Being mindful is more about clearing out what gets in the way. Mindfulness is an opportunity to come off of automatic pilot and pay attention.

Learn about the 7 Foundational Attitudes of Mindfulness