What is Mindfulness?

I’ve heard Mindfulness described in a different ways such as:-


  • Gentle effort to be continuously present with the experience.
  • Moment-to-moment, non-judgemental awareness, cultivated by paying attention.
  • The intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.
  • A way of connecting to ourselves and our experience in the present.


However, most of the time our minds take us back into the past or way off into the future and so more often than not we find ourselves NOT in the present moment, which actually is all we have!


Often we are on auto-pilot for example we may be thinking about what we have to face or achieve when we get to work, perhaps anxious about a certain meeting or in your mind you’re chatting you’re way through your presentation, and you’re actually only having breakfast at this stage, not really noticing, sensing or tasting what we’re eating and drinking at that time!  You then drive to work or get the train and your mind is still chatting your way through one of your meetings later in the day, then on arrival at the office you perhaps think “how the heck did I get here I don’t even remember the journey, let alone notice what was going on around me on the way?!”  You’re way off into the future – which may not even occur like that when it actually arrives! 


Or it might be our emotions are leading us into sadness or anger or of past experiences keep flooding into minds and whisk us back to difficult situations, our thoughts take us down different avenues of “if only I’d done x or y, or what if I’d behaved differently, things now would be different”.  It may be we blame others for how are lives have turned out and we go back there trying to sort it out in our minds, but really we’re just stuck and held in the past.


So learning about Mindfulness can help bring us more into awareness of the present moment, and with practice this can become more of a normal state than that of the past/future/auto-pilot modes we go into.  We can finally let go of the past and we don’t need to get anxious or worry about things in the future.


We can become more appreciative of our incredible human being bodies.  For example by just focussing on the breath it can bring us to a realisation of how valuable this element of our being really is – without it we would not be in our human life – simple!  Yet how often are we aware of this fact and how often do we acknowledge and thank our breath for breathing ourselves alive every moment of every day and night?  It’s quite an incredible awareness to come to and be with in any moment isn’t it?


So I hope that helps begin to give you some insight into the power and incredibleness of Mindfulness.


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Carmen O'Connor

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