Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of what’s going on in our immediate experience, while deliberately bringing attitudes of curiosity, openness and acceptance to ourselves and our experience. This is in stark contrast to how we normally operate. Typically our minds are caught up in past and future thinking. When we are constantly stuck in this pattern, unhelpful emotions surface more readily: anxiety, catastrophizing, over-planning, guilt and other unproductive emotions. This in turn impacts on our sleep, our physical and emotional health as well as our behaviours. We are more inclined to react unconsciously than respond with awareness.
Mindfulness is usually cultivated in formal meditation practises, such as sitting meditation, the bodyscan meditation or mindful movement. In these meditations, we learn to direct our attention to what’s actually happening on a moment-to-moment basis in the body, in our thoughts and our emotions. The capacity to be present is innate to each one of us and can be deliberately cultivated, alongside our capacity for kindness.