Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, knowing where we are and what we are doing, and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is happening around us.
While awareness is something that we all naturally possess, when we practice on a daily basis it is more readily available to us.
Whenever you bring awareness of what you experience directly through your senses, or through your thoughts and emotions, you are attentive to your state of mind. And there is growing research showing that you are actually remodeling your brain’s physical structure when you train your brain to be mindful.
Awakening to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes is the goal of mindfulness.
What is meditation?
Meditation is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t get vacuumed free of thought, completely undistracted. It’s a special place where every moment is momentous. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and so on.
Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the functioning of the mind, approaching our experience to ourselves and others with warmth and kindness.
How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?
At all times, mindfulness is available to us, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices such as taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings rather than rushing to respond to it.