Mindfulness is a “state of consciousness that results from paying attention, intentionally, to the present moment, without judging, to the experience that is unfolding moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
One way of practicing mindfulness, is to sustain one’s attention to one’s breathing, body, movement, and other perceptions, and to kindly bring one’s mind back to that focus whenever one’s attention is diverging from it. By practicing mindfulness, one seeks to be present to what is there, in the ‘now’ moment, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Amongst other benefits it develops a positive attitude towards the perpetual changes in life.
After two decennia of practice and 15 years of teaching meditation, I arrive at this condensed definition that, for me, covers the essence of the practice. Mindfulness is … living consciously what is.
As our attention can be resistant to or distracted from staying fully aware in the here & now, I identified 8 fundamental attitudes that helps the untrained mind to overcome obstacles to present moment awareness.
- openness, gentle curiosity, the beginner’s mind
- acceptance, surrender, letting go
- continuity (patience, perseverance)
- equanimity: direct perception devoid from partiality, judgment, interpretation, or evaluation
- empathy, compassion & detachment
- gratitude & detachment
- right effort
With practice, we live more and more fully in the present moment and these 8 attitudes occur more easily and spontaneously.