There are lots of definitions of mindfulness.
My perspective is that mindfulness is about being mentally calm, relaxed, open, accepting, fully present, and non-judgemental. It implies a level of awareness whereby attention can be focused in a very stable way, not easily getting pulled off by distractions. In this state, the intensity of automatic thinking is greatly diminished, and we can get much closer to experiencing the information from our senses in real time. This helps us to become much more flexible in the way we respond to the world, being less restricted by habits, expectations, assumptions or previous experiences. It gives us the ability to notice our experience, and thereby creates the possibility of making changes.
By practicing focusing attention with intention, the very act itself strengthens the part of the brain that enables that focus—setting up the ultimate virtuous cycle.
As such, the ability to pay attention is actually a skill, and once it is well-developed it is expressed as mindfulness. High performance requires that it is developed to a high level, the achievement of which is both underpinned by intentional attention and impossible without it.
This is why I believe, that the ability to improve our level of intentional attention is the ultimate skill. Like all skills, it requires practice, and in this case that practice is usually called meditation.
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