What is Mindfulness Anyway?


What is mindfulness?  I’ve been thinking about this a lot, wink wink. That’s probably not even a mindfulness joke, but I thought the winks would help! 😉


Mindfulness can help bring about playfulness and light heartedness for sure 🙂 So we aren’t always taking things, or ourselves, with a rigidity that ends up holding us back from exploring what’s there and what’s possible.  I feel a lot of people think that mindfulness is a very serious practice as seen done by only monks in the Himalayan mountains or Yoda and the Jedi, but it is truly for everyone!


AND, you don’t always have to sit on a cushion to be practicing mindfulness! Though you can for your mindfulness meditation formal practice if you want. 


Mindfulness, at it’s roots, and as I have been taught by my teachers and their teachers before them, is awareness with compassion.  They even talk of mindfulness as a two winged bird; one wing is awareness and the other is compassion.  


I believe, bound beautifully together (awareness and compassion) within our bodies, hearts, minds, emotions, and spirit, like the bird, we can fly towards freedom, liberation, and peace. 


So then, what is awareness and what is compassion?

mindfulness as a path to self-compassion


“When used as a synonym for mindfulness, awareness means a mindful recognition of what 

is present, here, and now. When used as a synonym for consciousness, awareness means the simple knowing of what experience is happening.” -from my Mindfulness Meditation Teaching Certificate Program (MMTCP)

So, awareness is mindfulness. It is consciousness.  It is to be present, to be here now, and awareness is attention to this moment.  Awareness is paying attention.  Paying, offering, giving attention to what is happening right now.  

“You, yourself, as much as ANYONE in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha


“Compassion comes into the English language by way of the Latin root “passio”, which means to suffer, paired with the Latin prefix “com”, meaning together – to suffer together.”-Stanford center for compassion and altruism research and education REFERENCED HERE

And compassion extends beyond empathy because it elicits a call to action.  This is important!  Compassion actually has a motivation to want to end the pain and suffering of yourself, of others, of the planet, of all Beings.   There is a genuine desire to alleviate the pain and suffering.

“And this is really the essence of what we will be training. A synonym for mindfulness 

that we’ll be using is loving attention or loving awareness– an attention that’s focused on present experience and an ability to observe and be fully present for body, for mind, for spirit, or for the vastness of life. And in that presence, to begin to know, or understand, or connect and interact in a more real– if you will– way. To shift from reactivity, being caught, being identified with things to a place of clarity and perspective, of ease and care.”-Jack Kornfield, MMTCP

And this isn’t easy.  

The Sufi’s say that “perhaps the hardest task of all is to keep the heart open.”  How can I keep an awareness of something that is causing me great pain. Whether it’s my own physical body, someone else causing me pain, or ways in which we can see the world suffering? 

“Insight meditation is at the heart of the teachings of awakening. Its purpose is to strengthen our capacity to experience “things as they are” directly, without the filter of discursive thinking, evaluation, or habitual reactivity. It consists of bringing a natural and clear attention to whatever occurs in the present moment.”-MMTCP

When we are in a practice of mindful awareness of what is, without judgement, without immediately attempting to fix or change anything, we create a space.  And in that space lives the compassion.  And if we can take even that one breath to enter that space, to be able to say, “this is what is”, to take what I call a “Sacred Pause”, then we we have created through the practice a more expansive moment in which we can then remember we have choice in this moment and we can begin to respond to life rather than react to life.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor, said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” 

This is to “breathe WITH yourself, not against yourself” as I say in my yoga classes.  And, that’s  the practice of mindfulness too.  We notice what is present, what this moment is, but without any  judgment.  Remembering that we’re not broken, nothing is bad about us.  We’re just acknowledging what is here, what’s present.

Mindfulness practice is really a continuous  practice. One of the best benefits is that we create a closer connection with ourselves through this awareness. It is to awaken us into the present moment, and from the moment it blossoms out in such a large way, it really awakens our heart to  life, to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet.

I hope you will consider joining me for the last three weeks of my “Mindfulness as a Path to Self-compassion” course as I complete my second required practicum!  Our first class this past Saturday was wonderful!! 


All my love,


Breathe and Believe.