What is Mindfulness?
The most common definition of mindfulness comes from the pioneer of secular mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who says “mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
This purposeful and particular attention to the present moment can apply to either our outer or inner world. We can practice this purposeful awareness to sensory experiences such as sound, sight, texture, smell, touch, taste, movement, but also to thoughts and emotions.
— John Kabat-Zinn
Take a moment and think about your day today. Now try to recall how many times you engaged in purposeful awareness to the present moment without being distracted by outside sensory experiences, such as text binges, e-mail notifications, etc., or inner thoughts about past or future, judgments or emotions. You really needed to think, right? Chances are that you can count these mindful moments on the fingers of one hand.
You are not alone. As it turns out these purposeful moments of awareness are a rarity in today's fast-paced, information-overloaded world. We all are constantly dividing our attention, going in ten different directions, not noticing the world around us, which is most often not a good thing.
It is like being on autopilot and feeling too often that we don't even know what just happened to us, where we are going, what we are thinking and where the time flew. The autopilot mind is unaware, distracted and in a perpetual state of stress. And our brain’s agitated response to this sustained stress makes focus, learning, even reasoning rationally difficult, if not impossible.
True mindfulness can calm our hyperactive brain, settle us in present and allow us to effectively reason and problem solve, and even better, to awaken the optimistic, caring, creative, and happy you.