What is Mindfulness?
While Mindfulness can be described in a number of ways, one of the most well-used definitions comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of Mindfulness in the United States, and the teacher who brought Mindfulness into the field of medicine & health:
“Mindfulness means to pay attention to the present moment, with intention, in a non-judgmental way. It is a practice of awareness and observation.”
Mindfulness allows us to have moment-to-moment awareness and understanding of the reality of what is actually happening inside our body, our mind, and our external environment. This simple act of noticing the reality of something as it is, stripping away the layers of our mind’s labels, judgments, and narratives, gives us the ability to respond, rather than impulsively react, to any event or circumstance in our lives. From this place of clearer seeing, we better understand the inner workings of our own minds and bodies, and have a newfound skill at making decisions from a place of strength, wisdom, and compassion. As these “Mindful moments” add up, it allows us to feel a greater sense of peace in our daily lives, and to help us connect with ourselves and others in a more profound way.
Thirty years of empirical research shows that a regular mindfulness practice increases attention, executive functioning (processing information and learning), emotional regulation, stress reduction, empathy, and a variety of other positive effects. (See our “Mindfulness Benefits” page for more details).
In the late 1970’s, Mindfulness was first brought into the medical field by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He found it to be an effective treatment modality for chronic pain patients who couldn’t find help anywhere else.
Since then, mindfulness has grown far beyond medicine and is now commonly used in mental health, business corporations, the military, politics, and of course education, where it offers the potential for improving academic, behavioral and health outcomes for students and teachers alike.
Mindfulness creates space, changing impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses.
Without Mindfulness: Stimulus → Reaction
With Mindfulness: Stimulus → Mindfulness → Response