Understanding the Key Concepts of Mindfulness

Learn about the five key concepts of mindfulness and how they can help you understand what it means to have a conscious attitude to life.

Understanding the Key Concepts of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a concept that has become increasingly popular in recent years, but many people are still confused about what it really means. To help clarify, here are five key concepts that can help explain what it means to have a conscious attitude to life. The five basic concepts of mindfulness include present-centered awareness, an open or accepting attitude, a non-judgmental approach, compassion for oneself and others, and the energy of mindfulness. It is important to note that mindfulness does not involve emptying the brain of thoughts, inducing relaxation, or going into a trance.

It is also not a type of religion or cult and is not dangerous. Mindfulness involves the ability to observe one's own experience without being trapped in assigning judgment to any of them. It is about cultivating an attitude of active and curious interest in things as they are, without any effort to change or deny them. There is no fear of what may arise in one's experience, nor is there surprise agitated by the unexpected.

Another English term for the word sati in Pali (meaning mindfulness) is “pure attention”. This involves no thought or participation in cognitive processes in the way most of us are used to. It is free to assign meaning and to merge with thoughts and feelings, it is pure consciousness. Through mindfulness, we have the opportunity to experience what it's like to observe all things as if it were the first time.

When it comes to practicing mindfulness, there are seven specific attitudes that form the basis of it. These attitudes are non-judgment, patience, beginner's mind, trust, lack of effort, acceptance and abandonment. These attitudes are mutually supportive and deeply interconnected and practicing one will lead to the others. With these concepts in mind, you can begin to introduce mindfulness into your own life by deliberately directing your attention to your breathing and senses at different times of the day, taking a conscious walk through nature, or starting a simple meditation practice.