What is a Mindful Attitude?

The words "nonjudgmental," "open," "accepting," and "curious" are frequently used in traditional definitions of mindfulness to describe the attitude you can cultivate when being mindful. Mindfulness is an attitude of acceptance and kindness toward yourself and your current experience. 

So, if you're trying to be mindful but having a reaction to your experience—that is, you're aware but disliking, fearing, or judging it—then your mindfulness will be colored by these feelings. For example, if you're aware of your breath but thinking, "Wow, this is utterly boring," or "I'm doing this wrong," you're aware, but you lack the quality of accepting things as they are. 

To make things a little more complicated, if you notice that you're bored or doubting your effort, but you're curious and open about it, even if you're a little harsh on yourself for being bored or doubting, your attitude is accepting! You have the direct experience of mindfulness when you are aware of the present moment in a kind and curious way, accepting it exactly as it is. This isn't to say that judging, aversion, fear, and other emotions won't occasionally color your mindfulness, but it is to say that this is the ideal you can strive for through practice—to be as kind to yourself and your experience as possible. 

This isn't to say that you'll never have judgmental thoughts if you're truly mindful. We don't need to judge our judgments because they appear uninvited in our minds. Instead, acknowledge them for what they are: passing thoughts through your mind. 

What are the chances of this working? Joan, a 53-year-old musician, says, "When I first started my meditation practice, I was convinced I was doing it wrong." I couldn't take a single breath without hearing a voice tell me I was doing something wrong! How can you inhale incorrectly? Anyway, I worked hard on treating myself with kindness, allowing myself to accept each breath as it came, even though I didn't know if I was doing it correctly. It was as though I could add mindfulness to the uncertainty. Over time, I started to relax, and I no longer hold any harsh judgments about my meditation. 

Accepting all actions as equally acceptable does not imply having a kind and open mindset. You're misinterpreting this attitude if you say to yourself, "Oh, I yelled at my husband when he didn't deserve it, but I was very careful and kind to myself in the process." When you have a completely attentive mindset, you see yourself in a kind yet straightforward light, free of any shadings from your own reactive patterns or delusory thoughts. 

When you become more conscious, you will be able to see the impact of your actions on others more clearly. You consider harmful habits, such as bullying, deception, and false rumors, as harmful to yourself and others through the prism of mindfulness, and you may choose to reduce or eliminate them. You can find a striking impact in the long run: Kindness continues to pervade the whole life. 

Most people nowadays, unfortunately, suffer from self-criticism and self-hatred. Learning to cultivate an accommodating mentality by moments of mindfulness aids in the long-term development of a kind and caring attitude toward yourself and others. This concept is based on the premise that you cultivate what you practice. 

So, if you spend enough moments in your day learning to be open to encounters of empathy, honesty, and interest, these habits and actions are likely to become a normal and more incorporated part of who you are over time. This is mindfulness transitioning from "condition" to "trait," as we saw in the science segment.

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation and Healing here.