What is Mindfulness ?

Our favorite definition of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabbat-Zinn: “Paying attention ‘on purpose’ in a particular way”. In our busy modern lives most of us spend the vast amount of our time on “auto-pilot” going through the tasks and activities of our lives without much, if any, awareness or connection with the senses and feelings within our bodies. We’ve been told to “pay attention” all of our lives but has anyone really taught us how? Many modern problems, from every day stress to medical illness and mental health problems, can be linked to this disconnection or “forgetting” about our bodies.

We become more mindful by purposefully taking time to do one thing at a time, noticing what we are experiencing through our senses of smell, hearing, feeling, seeing and tasting. We practice bringing an attitude of non-judgment to what comes up in our thoughts when we pay attention, and this allows us to observe our habits more clearly. Our senses are gateways back to our body, which is always in the present moment.   Our body holds the gateway to relaxation, greater levels of well being, and the ability to more fully experience the full spectrum and richness of our lives.

Since we can do almost anything more mindfully, mindfulness as a practice can take an endless number of forms-  though some practices are more formal and structured. Mindfulness itself is not religious but mindfulness practices have evolved in most spiritual traditions. The most practical examples of mindfulness awareness practices that can help us improve our sense of health and well being most directly are:


  • Sitting Mindfulness, often called meditation
  • Moving Mindfulness, as practiced in traditions such as yoga and tai chi
  • Lying Down Mindfulness, such as a body scan, progressive relaxation or yoga nidra
  • Eating Mindfulness, a focused way of eating where you allow yourself to experience food and eating with all of your senses.
  • Walking Mindfulness, walking with attention to the feet and the senses

We can bring mindfulness into literally any wakeful life activity. Integrative Life Services teaches mindfulness to adults and young people predominantly through the practices of yoga, tai chi, sitting mediation, the examples above and others.

In the last ten years mental and physical health practitioners have been incorporating mindfulness based approaches into many already effective methods of treating psychological and physical conditions. This work and related research has lead to a proliferation of new approaches that have already proven to be effective in helping people grow and strengthen their ability to thrive. We also help youth and adults with special needs use mindfulness therapeutically to heal from life challenges and health conditions.

How have you become more mindful in your life ?  What would you like to do more mindfully ?