Mindfulness is an approach to consciously settling the mind. According to Germer (2013), the definition of mindfulness originates from the word ‘Sati’ meaning, ‘awareness’, ‘clear-headedness’, or ‘joy’. Gunaratana (2002) suggests that mindfulness cannot be fully explained with words as it is a subtle, non-verbal experience.

The Chinese character for ‘mindfulness’ comprises of five characters: eyes, ears, heart, mind, along with undivided attention (see Figure 1 and 2).

Figure 1: The Chinese character for mindfulness.
Figure 2: Separation of the Chinese characters that comprise of ‘mindfulness’.

According to Salzberg (2011), mindfulness comprises of three levels: focused attention, open monitoring, and compassion.

Focused attention is the area that most people consider to be mindfulenss: a practise of focusing fully on one thing in the present moment through breathing, postures, chanting, mantras, mudras, mandalas, and so forth. Indeed, any practise where one is fully absorbed may be considered as ‘focused attention’. Yet true mindfulness really concerns engagement with the second level of practice: open monitoring. During open monitoring, there is an awareness of thinking, being aware of thoughts and feelings without attachment, analysis, or judgement of the impressions. The third level of mindfulness is compassion or loving kindness.