“paying attention, in a particular way, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”
This definition was written by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, the renowned founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, which was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and is now practiced throughout the world. You can learn something about mindfulness by observing its very definition: you may notice that it is in itself a kind of layered composite of different notions all rolled into one.
Firstly, mindfulness is the focusing of your attention. You have probably noticed that it is increasingly difficult to focus – in fact, the number of opportunities for distraction are multiple at any given time. Focusing in itself is tricky.
When you are mindful, your attention is directed toward the ever-fleeting present moment. The present moment does not stand still. The second difficulty is that we are focusing on something that is in movement, and that is constantly being created.
As you are focusing on the present moment, it is important to note the state of mind in which you are doing this, which is with curiosity, and with a kind of inner softness that does not judge. That critical inner voice drones on mindlessly without our even noticing it, which is the third difficulty. It is a feat to even perceive the workings of our own inner dialogue.
Mindfulness is rather simple when we look at its definition, and those who have integrated the practice seem to have a charismatic and deep presence that makes it seem so easy. However, as you see here, mindfulness is naturally complicated to put into practice. This is why meditation can be an important part of the mindful life. When you meditate, you train your brain and augment its capacity to be aware in this specific way, allowing you to call upon your mindfulness skills in other situations.
This complexity of application and personal development is also why most people who have developed mindfulness have been accompanied at some point by someone who has dedicated their lives to living it out and sharing it with the world. And yet, despite this fact, in the realm of mindfulness, there are no beginners or experts, only people united by the path to knowing themselves and the world.