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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a term that is used quite often in the world of therapy and has recently found its way onto clothing labels, pop culture icons’ instagram feeds and even the twitterverse, #mindfulness. Many of us may have even used the term without being very mindful about what it truly means.

According to the American Psychological Association (, 2012) mindfulness is: “…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait.”

Jon Kabat Zinn, the “master of mindfulness” defines the state as “The awareness that rises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

And the good ole’ dictionary defines mindfulness as “The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

Awareness. Conscious. Without Judgment.

Now to achieve this level of awareness there are many “mindfulness techniques” that the western cultures are just beginning to employ ( ok, comparatively speaking). However, for people from the East these techniques have been utilized for centuries. Whether it be zhikr, yoga or meditation, the repetitive breathing, the connection with oneself and the universe, energy or god all leading to the same level of awareness of self that is now defined as- mindfulness.

Is mindfulness another form of appropriation like Bikram Yoga or Butter Chicken?

Jon Kabat Zinn has revealed that his MBSR program is based on a type of Buddhist meditation called Vipassana and he is not alone in his recognition of the origins of mindfulness. One would assume that since mindfulness has been apart of the Indian subcontinent and eastern cultures for centuries it would be easier or more familiar a state to achieve.

Being mindful is a state of mind that is not only useful to reduce stress and anxiety and depression but can also help to focus attention, observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment and regulate emotions.

Being mindful is a huge asset in any mediation, especially a divorce mediation. It reminds us the notion that one needs to truly know oneself before they can begin to know another. In that same logic, one must be aware of one’s own true interests, consciously and without judgment before one can really become aware of another’s interest, consciously and without judgment. This understanding or connection with another’s interest is an important route to achieve empathy that shifts the dynamic from opposing forces tugging at war from their polarized rooted positions to a partnership with a common goal and a shared interest in arriving to an agreement.

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