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  • Writer's pictureKatie Lewis

10 Things Mindfulness Is (and 3 It's Not)

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Simply put, mindfulness is the state of being aware of something. Through being mindful, one can achieve a greater focus on the present moment, allowing them to neutrally acknowledge and accept their feelings, bodily sensations, and thoughts.

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Folks often associate mindfulness with meditation. You can picture it: legs crossed, palms resting atop the knees, maybe the thumb and index fingers touching. Something like this:

Meditation Pose

I'm here to tell you mindfulness is so much more (or less, depending on how you look at it) than meditation. Let's start with what mindfulness is not (or doesn't have to be):

What Mindfulness Is Not

  1. Mindfulness is not meditation. Practicing mindfulness can take the shape of meditation, but it certainly doesn't have to. I do practice meditation as part of my own mindfulness routine, but one doesn't achieve a mindful existence simply through the act of meditation.

  2. Mindfulness is not a solution. Unfortunately, living mindfully can't cure us of anxiety, won't keep us from occasionally reacting angrily, and isn't what will suddenly have us loving our jobs. Mindfulness is a practice, so for one thing it's more about the process than the product; for another, the average person will never be perfect.

  3. Mindfulness is not the same for everyone. Mindful living looks different for everyone, and that means it will take different shapes and exist in different contexts for every human who practices. Beginning a mindfulness practice should not be stressful or overwhelming. The practice molds around the human, not the other way around.

As you can see, practicing mindfulness is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Rather, it's fully customizable to one's desires and needs.

Let's dig in to what mindfulness is. Importantly, this is not an exhaustive list, but rather an attempt to help readers to see how practicing mindfulness can fit into any life at any time and in any stage.

What Mindfulness Is

  1. Mindfulness is noticing. When we begin to take note of things -- bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, sights, sounds, smells, tastes -- we grow more present. Presence can be a generous gift we give ourselves because it allows us to better attend to our needs, worry less about future outcomes, revel in the endless possibilities of what might come next, and much more.

  2. Mindfulness is listening to music while focusing on the lyrics, the beat, and how they make you feel.

  3. Mindfulness is drinking a tasty beverage and noticing the sensations it evokes.

  4. Mindfulness is taking 5 deep breaths with a pause in between, taking note of how your belly or your chest moves up and down.

  5. Mindfulness is journaling about what you’re currently smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling, or tasting.

  6. Mindfulness is spending a few minutes cuddling or petting an animal, noticing the sensations you feel as you stroke their fur or breathe in their scent.

  7. Mindfulness is giving your meal your undivided attention, paying attention to the cues your body is giving you as you chew, swallow, and digest.

  8. Mindfulness is simply looking around, noticing what’s beautiful, or even just ordinary, within your field of vision.

  9. Mindfulness is gazing up at the moon and the stars, taking note of how you feel when you consider the vastness of our universe and your part in it.

  10. Mindfulness is taking a walk, noticing your gate as your heels and toes touch the ground and the sights, sounds, and smells as you rove around.

Opportunities for mindfulness can be found anywhere by anybody. Mindfulness can fit in the context of your life without having to make big adjustments. When we first begin our practice of living mindfully, it might feel disjointed from a larger goal or greater purpose; but as we continue to practice and intentionally flex these mindful muscles, we start to see through lines in what soothes us, what we desire for our lives, and what drives us on deeper levels.

If you're new to practicing intentional mindfulness, what are some opportunities for mindfulness you can incorporate into your daily life? If you're experienced in mindful living, what are some notable but simple ways being mindful has supported your journey?

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1 Comment

Richard Lewis
Richard Lewis
Jul 26, 2023

Wow. This is great. There are so many things I already do that you mentioned, mindfully but unintentionally. There may be more I could get out of being more intentional.

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