Left to itself the mind wanders through all kinds of thoughts — including thoughts which for example express anxiety, worry, anger, criticism, self-doubt, sadness and self-pity . As we indulge in these kinds of thoughts we reinforce emotions in our hearts and cause ourselves to suffer. Mostly these thoughts are about the past or future. The past no longer exists. The future is only a fantasy until it happens. The one moment we actually can experience — the present moment — is the one we seem most to avoid.
Mindfulness is the act of present, focused awareness of what is happening right now without judgment and with complete acceptance. Through mindful meditation, we become aware of what is arising in the present moment. When thoughts about the past or future take us away from our present moment experience, we practice gently bringing ourselves back to the now, therefore we decrease their effect on our lives and we create instead a space of freedom where calmness and contentment can grow.
What does it involve?
The formal practice of Mindfulness involves a specific type of meditation. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body, or of other sensations in the body. Focusing on each breath, or your body in this way, allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative thoughts and feelings) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.