Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003 p. 145). In other words, mindfulness involves directing attention to the experience in the present moment and a non-evaluative observation of that experience. Research has consistently shown that mindfulness is an important predictor of well-being. For instance, the trait of mindfulness has been associated with higher levels of life satisfaction, more positive affect, less negative affect, greater life satisfaction, and sense of autonomy and competence. Higher levels of mindfulness have also been found to be associated with various positive psychological outcomes, such as lower levels of neuroticism, depression, and anxiety as well as higher levels of self-esteem, vitality, and authenticity.
Mindfulness is a natural human capacity that untrained laypersons can experience. Natural variations in mindfulness are likely due to variations in genetic predisposition and environmental influences. However, mindfulness can also be trained. Research has revealed that meditation practice enhances mindfulness and thereby promotes psychological health in clinical and non-clinical samples. The goal of mindfulness interventions is to teach participants to become aware of body sensations, thoughts, and emotions and to relate to them with an open, non-judgmental attitude. Such an open state of mind can be cultivated by repeated practice. It is important to note that mindfulness is related to but not equal to meditation. Although mindfulness is often predominantly associated with meditation, the range of practical mindfulness exercises vastly extends beyond formal meditational practice. In other words, “sitting on a cushion” is merely one way of cultivating “an openhearted, moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness”. Integrating mindfulness into daily life routines and working habits is an important consideration, especially when under time pressure, deadlines, and tight schedules.