Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your internal and external experiences which are occurring at the present moment. But as you are focusing on the moment, you need to leave your past to the past, stop thinking and projecting thoughts into your future and just simply pay attention to your current thoughts and feelings -- without placing judgment on them. After all, thoughts are just thoughts. They are neither right nor wrong.
Mindfulness is a form of Buddhist meditation that has found its way into mainstream living. Formal meditation via CDs, videos, websites and workshops are available to teach the skills you need to know in order to practice intentional self regulation. But outside of these focused programs you can practice and participate in mindfulness in your day-to-day life by focusing on what is going on in the moment. For example, if you go for a walk, notice, really notice, the smell of the mowed grass, the heat of the sun on your head and shoulders, the sound of insects humming in the air, even the feel of your feet springing off the asphalt with each step you take. Therefore, to practice day-to-day mindfulness wherever you are, be acutely aware of:
• your breathing
• what you are sensing at the moment (seeing, hearing, smelling)
• that your thoughts and emotions are transient (they have no long-term impact on you)
• your body's physical sensations
Mindfulness is derived from the five-aggregates (Skandhas) listed in the traditional Buddhist spiritual texts, which basically serve as a way to use our personal physical and mental experiences to come to a logical and thorough understanding of the self in order to attain wisdom (of the not-self). Aggregates by definition are parts of a whole, so understanding where you identify within each of the aggregates will help you achieve that wholeness.
According to the Buddha, the five aggregates are our burden, because suffering comes when a person identifies with an aggregate. Suffering is stopped by releasing the attachments to the aggregates. At the same time they provide us with the indispensable opportunity to examine the suffering to acquire wisdom.
In case you are wondering what the five-aggregates are, I have listed them below. However, if you are interested a deeper understanding of these texts, I would suggest starting with the Internet and the library.
1. Form - includes both the physical body and external matter
2. Sensation - pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings
3. Perception - awareness of an object's attributes (i.e. color, shape)
4. Mental Formation - represents bodily, verbal or psychological behavior (i.e. habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, etc.)
5. Consciousness - seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touching sensations
Wondering How Mindful You Already Are?