What does mindfulness mean?

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One of the most common questions I get when I lead meditation sits is what does the term "mindfulness" truly mean? The definition that I like to play by is: “Mindfulness is the act of paying attention in each moment with a kind and curious quality.” We can be mindful during many points throughout our day. For instance, we can be mindful while we cook, eat, walk, talk, listen, exercise, have sex, clean and so much more! However, in order to strengthen those mindfulness “muscles,” it is helpful to have a formal meditation practice.

Now you might ask, why do I want to be mindful? What’s in it for me? Being mindful is truly a gift because you enter the present moment, which supports our human experience in being happier and healthier, and it also supports our overall wellbeing. A Harvard study in 2011 took a diverse sample size of over 2,000 participants and by using their iPhones texted them at random times of the day asking: How happy are you? What are you doing? Is your current thought pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? This study highlights that people’s minds tend to wander about 46.9% of the time and when our minds wander we are more unhappy. When we are mindful (even with events we can’t stand… like washing dishes) we are proven to be happier! That’s pretty cool!