What is Mindfulness?

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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness is a practice of bringing our attention to our experience in the present moment. Both our inner experience of thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body, as well as our experience through the senses of sight, sound, taste and touch. For attention to be mindful we orient our attention deliberately and without judgement.

When we are being mindful, we are not lost in thought or mind-wandering, so we intentionally bring awareness to our experience in the moment on purpose.

When we are aware of experience without judgement, we let go of any preferences, desires, judgements or expectations we might have of experience. We become aware of experience simply as it is. Whether it is sights, sounds, tastes, smells, bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, feelings, it doesn’t matter, we simply observe our experience as it is, bringing an intentional and non-judgemental awareness to whatever is present.

We can practice this kind of paying attention in formal meditation practice, or just about in any moment of our waking life.

It sounds simple right?

In fact this most simple of practices can challenge us in precisely the ways we need to learn about ourselves and grow. When we become aware of our experience in this mindful way, we realise just how rare and precious it is to let go of all of those stories in our heads, the likes, the dislikes, hopes, fears and anxieties that we have acquired throughout our lives and that distract us from the simple, joyful reality of being in the moment.

Mindfulness practice teaches us how to disentangle ourselves from the mental habits that cause us suffering and let go – reconnecting with the world, ourselves, and others in a wiser, more free and intentional way.

Mindfulness vs Mindfulness-Based


Modern Mindfulness is a secular practice that is grounded in the wisdom and meditation techniques of the Buddhist tradition. It is an exciting confluence of modern science, Buddhist meditation practices, as well as elements drawn from Buddhist psychology and philosophy. Like its ancestor, contemporary mindfulness is fundamentally a practice for overcoming suffering and finding greater peace and wisdom that help us to live fully.

Mindfulness practice is a method of inquiring into our own minds so as to uncover deep insights into ourselves and the nature of our experience. This inquiry is founded on an understanding of things as impermanent, deeply interconnected, and unveils the habits of our mind that create suffering.

(In text box – Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the MBSR course and perhaps the most influential figure in establishing modern mindfulness, was himself a student of both Zen Buddhism and Vipassana)

Mindfulness-Based Approaches

Modern science has revealed how mindfulness meditation transforms the brain and body in ways that provide powerful mental and physical health benefits (See benefits of mindfulness). Inspired by this, health practitioners have designed more targeted therapeutic programmes that focus on using mindfulness to tackle specific issues like stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Both ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ (MBSR) and ‘Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy’ (MBCT) are examples of courses designed to help people overcome a particular source of suffering in their lives, namely stress for MBSR and anxiety and depression for MBCT.

Targeted mindfulness-based courses are extremely effective, having a large scientific evidence base and are now prescribed by the NHS. And although ‘targeted’, towards stress say (which is pretty ubiquitous in modern life), they are still fundamentally designed to teach mindfulness and so provide a comprehensive training in mindfulness.

There is no better way to start learning mindfulness than the 8-week MBSR course. Whether you want less stress and anxiety, to better understand your mind and learn ways to control it, to improve focus and concentration, learn how to manage challenging emotions, boost self-kindness and compassion, or discover ways to improve your relationships, sign up now.