What is Mindfulness? An Introduction

Zenblog from a practicing mindfulness teacher and facilitator

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

What is Mindfulness?

On a warm, sunny day with clouds painting figures in the deep blue sky, I watched each figure drift past without a care.

That memory is what I think of when I think of “mindfulness.”

Do you have a similar memory? Then you have already experienced mindfulness, even if you didn’t know it then.

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without concern for the past or the present. Or, as Master Oogway explains to Panda Po in Kung Fu Panda,

“Quit… Don’t quit.

Noodles… Don’t noodles.

You are too concerned with what was and what will be.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment.

Why Should I Care?

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness. Some, such as enjoying your life more fully, you can gain now. Others may take longer to achieve. The study and practice of mindfulness can take an entire lifetime!

Indeed, I, Mr. Paulson, have been a student and teacher of mindfulness for over 20 years! Yet there is still much for me to learn.

There are many reasons mindfulness is valuable, whatever your age.

One has to do with happiness. A study conducted at Harvard University* found that almost 50% of the time, people were not paying attention to what they were doing. Worse, even if the participants were doing something fun such as eating ice cream because they were thinking of something else, they couldn’t enjoy their double scoop of goodness.

The other has to do with effectiveness. School is not just about grades, of course, but as students, we want to make the most progress and achievement possible with our time and energy. Imagine how much more we would learn in school — and how much better we would study, complete work, and earn good grades — if our attention was more in the here and now than elsewhere!

Mindfulness can help us study and learn more efficiently — and effectively.

So how can we study and practice mindfulness? In the next post, I will introduce formal and informal mindfulness techniques.

Stay tuned!

*Steve Bradt, “Wandering mind not a happy mind.”11/11/10. Accessed 03/16/23. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/