As a general guideline for the purposes of this site, we use the following definition:
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally inviting our attention to experiencing the present moment with open inquiry, without judgment.
There are several aspects to that definition which bear exploration:
- Mindfulness is the practice -- This is a practice to be done, an action to take, rather than an ideological view or idea to be believed. Instead of being a technique one applies, it is a skill that can be developed with disciplined practice, and the results extend beyond versatility with mindfulness itself.
- intentionally inviting -- We are making an invitation in our meditation as an open handed and gentle guidance, rather than a firm and tense direction. As this practice is something we do, there is volition involved in that we make the choice to exercise this skill and develop it.
- attention -- Attending, being fully involved in what we're doing, however simple that may seem in the basic action of taking breath.
- experiencing -- Rather than thinking or doing, we place our attention into the experience of whatever is happening.
- present moment -- Much of our waking hours are spent with restlessness about the past, or worry about the future, rather than in that time in between, the now, which is all that we can ever be in. Our practice is to return to the present, again and again, loosening the bonds of past and future ruling our state of mind.
- open inquiry -- The attitude we foster is one of inquisitiveness. As we put inquire into the present moment experience, we explore whatever it is that's there.
- without judgment -- Whatever is it that we do find, we simply observe it without judging it, or our own attitudes about it. That doesn't mean thoughts won't arise, they will. Having discernment about experiences, thoughts, feelings, events, and ideas can be very helpful when we set aside our predilections about their value, or weighing them with our bias.
There are many ways one can view mindfulness. It can be considered a contemplative practice which, as it is developed, can have transformative impact on one's engagement with life. Note that for the purposes of this site, mindfulness encompasses more than one specific kind of meditation often thought of in more traditional contexts.