The Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness

Chapter 1: What is Mindfulness?

mindfulness header

A simple definition of mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of being,
where you maintain nonjudgemental awareness
in the present moment.

Before moving on, let's break that definition down a bit further.

  1. "Mindfulness is a state of being..."
    This means that mindfulness is not a specific activity. It's a quality of the mind.
  2. "...where you maintain nonjudgemental..."
    This means cultivating a sense of objectivity in life. You don't automatically judge everything that happens. Instead, you accept life for what it is.
  3. "...awareness..."
    Awareness of your own thoughts, the physical sensations in your body, and what's occurring in the world around you.
  4. "...in the present moment."
    The brain is hardwired to think about the past and the future. It's a survival instinct. Instead, mindfulness has you focus on the here and now. After all, life is lived in the present moment.

Mindfulness Defined by the Experts

“Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.”

Dan Harris
Bestselling Author of "10% Happier"

"Mindfulness is the capacity to be aware of what’s going on, and what is there."

- Thich Nhat Hanh
Global Spiritual Leader,
Peace Activist, Bestselling author

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Founder of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), Bestselling author

The Core Elements of Mindfulness

The specific language of any one definition doesn’t matter.

Instead, focus on understanding the core elements of mindfulness that show up across all definitions:

  • It's a state of being
  • Where you cultivate objectivity
  • You maintain a relaxed awareness
  • You're focused on the present moment
  • You accept life as it is

Just as important as what's included in every definition is what's not included.

  • It's not a specific activity
  • It's not judgmental
  • It's not about effort-laden concentration
  • It's not thinking about the past or the future
  • It's not resisting reality for what it is
Core elements of mindfulness

Keep Reading! Up Next: 
Chapter 2: The Benefits of Mindfulness