Mindfulness is quite an old idea that is common to virtually every religious and spiritual tradition to help practitioners of that religion deepen their practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way … on purpose … in the present-moment … non-judgmentally.”

Paying attention in a particular way.
A big part of mindfulness is developing the ability to focus our attention on what’s happening here, what’s happening now, and to concentrate on one thing at a time. People who suffer from GAD often report feeling distracted or having difficulty concentrating and that their attention is drawn away to things that have happened or things that might happen. In the practice of mindfulness, we are teaching ourselves to deliberately focus our attention on just one thing, so that we can drink deep from that particular experience. Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking and the attentional component of it is about focusing on just one thing as completely as we can at a time.

On Purpose
By on purpose, the definition of mindfulness means that we are deliberately place our attention on one thing.

In the Present Moment
In the present moment means that our attention is in the here and now, not what happened last week, last month, or last year…not what’s going to happen next week or ten years from now. Instead, being in the present moment means bringing our entire attention to what is happening right here and right now without any regard for the past and future. Interestingly, when it comes down to it, we can never really be in the past or the future. For all the good and bad things that have happened to us, we were in the present moment when they actually occurred. Also, the future never really comes. Rather, it’s already the present moment when it arrives. The idea of staying in the present moment means making the most of the present, to bring as much deliberate attention as one can muster, because we are at our best when we bring ALL OF US to the present moment.

It’s in our nature as humans to be judging, categorizing, filtering, and labeling what happens to us, and what comes into contact with us. With mindfulness, we endeavor to bring our full attention to whatever happens without judging whether or not the experience can be regarded as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, and so on. Within a mindfulness perspective, we set aside our judgmental nature in favor of experiencing the present moment as authentically as possible as a reality that is as unvarnished and untainted by our own tastes, biases, and proclivities.