Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state encompasses observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
To live mindfully is to live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Mindfulness can also be a healthy way to identify and manage latent emotions that are causing problems in personal or professional relationships.
Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. It has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, and protecting against depression and anxiety. Research even suggests that mindfulness can help people better cope with rejection and social isolation.
At best, mindfulness is a tool that allows people to be more aware of their physical and emotional conditions without getting bogged down in self-criticism and judgment. Some argue that mindfulness has become overhyped in part because it is big business (think meditation apps and nap zones in co-working spaces), and in part because it is ideal research, in that it brings behavioral scientists into their native element—observing and labeling thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body in an objective manner.