What is Mindfulness?

Definitions of Mindfulness

There are many definitions of mindfulness available in the literature and many translations from original text that have slightly different emphasis.

This makes it challenging to agree upon a single definition that defines what mindfulness is in its entirety. Therefore, it would be pragmatic to accept that within each reputable definition, there is perhaps something valuable that may reveal the true nature of Mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness? – Forming an Understanding

To help form an understanding of what mindfulness is or what it may come to mean to you; we have come up with our own definition alongside some other important definitions that we recognise as being most useful in gaining an understanding.

Whilst words alone cannot answer the question of what is mindfulness? The following definitions are useful descriptions of the experience of Mindfulness, although are not definitive of the experience itself. To gain a true and deeper meaning, mindfulness is to be experienced fully for oneself.

Definition 1 – Urban Mindfulness Foundation

“Mindfulness is a way of being in the world.

It is about the knowing and recognition of possibility both positive or negative; and the awareness of choice amidst such possibility moment by moment.

It is about connection with the heart, body and mind allowing clarity to arise into the inter-connectivity of everything and everyone.”

              Dean Francis – Urban Mindfulness Foundation

 

Definition 2

The next definition is from Prof Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the West’s most renowned teachers considered to be a founder of Secular Mindfulness in the West. It is a definition we use throughout all of the programmes we deliver:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;

On purpose, moment by moment, non-judgmentally.”

                                                                                                   Jon Kabat Zinn

 

Definition 3

One of the definitions that we use in our training programmes is from Rob Nairn, founder of the Mindfulness Association. Rob defines Mindfulness in a wonderfully simple way:

“Knowing what is happening when it is happening;

no matter what it is.”  Or “without preference.”

                                                                                   Rob Nairn – Mindfulness Association

Definition 4

The final important definition we use is from Chinese Calligraphy.  Mindfulness is depicted as a symbol that communicates what we believe is the essence of Mindfulness. Whilst the above definitions are extremely useful, we feel this definition is probably most important to share.  The symbol looks like this:

The literal translation of the Chinese symbol is “Now, or present heart.” The top part of the symbol represents a shelter or hat meaning “now” or “present” and the bottom half of the symbol representing the word “heart.” This symbol suggests that Mindfulness is connected with the heart.

“Essence of heart”, “loving presence” or “heartfulness” are all ways that the practice has been described.  Jon Kabat Zinn affirms this by confirming:

“If love and kindness or essence of heart is missing from Mindfulness Training, then the training is likely to be missing it’s essence”.

Jon Kabat Zinn