What is Mindfulness Practice?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who designed the well-researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs, states the working definition of mindfulness as: The practice of placing attention on an object on purpose in the present moment.
That is all. Well – not quite.
It is placing attention on an object on purpose in the present moment and without judgment. This means that in addition to attending, we practice accepting our experience – whether we like it in that moment or not.
The attention part teaches us to have a strong and stable mind. The acceptance part teaches us to be flexible with what occurs in life. Mindfulness practice is so simple that we often feel that we must be doing it wrong; that this couldn’t possibly be “it.” But it’s funny how we come to learn so much about ourselves through this simple activity.
- We get to see what we like to think about or what we often think about – like it or not.
- We get to see the judgments we make about ourselves and the tone of voice we use when we are displeased with ourselves once we notice that we are not following the simple instruction to place attention on an object.
The “practice” of mindfulness begins to take on meaning as we develop, not only ability to stay with the object of meditation for longer periods of time, but the ability to let go of judgment when we don’t stay. We begin to understand how to relax the mind when we let go of expectations. And, wouldn’t you know it – when we start to let go of judgments and expectations of ourselves, we begin to let them go with respect to others. The world becomes a kinder place and we begin to like our lives.