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I like to use Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness He is a well-known author and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts 

It is brief and to the point: 

“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention in a

 particular way: on purpose, moment-by-moment, and non-judgmentally.”

The first section is ‘paying attention in a particular way’.

So how do we pay attention? 

What way?… 

In a non-judgmental way with kindness, if possible. 

Life can be hard at times. For all of us. It can also be wonderful and miraculous. 

But a key element of our practice is to cultivate a curious, kind attention on all of our experience.

The mind is hardly ever in the present moment but is instead either rehashing the past or rehearsing the future. 

In being in this state, we miss the present moment, the only moment we ever have to be alive, to make decisions, to grow, to heal, to be there for the people we love. 

We live most of our lives on autopilot, lost in thoughts. 

We realize that we have not really been there for important times in our lives and might feel the pain of that loss acutely. 

Probably some of you are often painfully aware that they spend too much time worrying about the future or ruminating over past events. Wrong decisions to make to get your business up and running, your work done or cleaning up your stuff.

Often it feels like this moment, the one we are in right now, isn’t really worth paying attention to. 

We’d rather plan the wonderful future, plan the great times ahead, the times when it’s totally worth being present. 

But when you do get to have these future amazing moments, be honest, are you fully present for them? 

Chances are you are not, because your mind is untrained to stay in the present moment and will just do what it always does—look to the future or the past. 


Have you ever been on a fabulous trip or vacation that you had been looking forward to for months, only then to be thinking about the past or the future—maybe already planning the next trip? 

What Mindfulness Is Not

 It’s not a relaxation exercise. 

Meditation might be deeply relaxing, and you will experience states of calm and ease, but that is not the goal. Sometimes when we practice we are just not relaxed (and we can’t force ourselves to be relaxed). The goal is to be present with what is already here in this moment and, if possible, to hold it with kindness. Strictly speaking, the goal is to let go of a goal! 

It’s not a quick fix.

While we sometimes can feel deeply at peace and at home right away when starting to meditate, we will have many meditations during which we are bored or restless or anxious. The practice is a process and unfolds over time.

 It’s not a technique.

It becomes a way of life, a particular lens through which we choose to see what is happening.

 It’s not a religion.

While the practices and the philosophy are derived from the Buddhist tradition, they are not a religion. Mindfulness can be a spiritual path if you choose to practice that way. Many people report that it enriches and supports their own spiritual life as they become more familiar with the practices of steady kind attention, loving-kindness.

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