What is Mindfulness? 26 Definitions

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

26 Definitions

The Buddha engaged in the regular application of Mindfulness in his teachings. The Pali word for Mindfulness is Sati. His teachings on mindfulness serve as the primary inspiration for the teachings on mindfulness available in the West  and elsewhere in the world.

Sati conveys remembering what leads up to an experience or situation and the presence of the experience or situation. There is no English equivalent to the word sati.

Translators have adopted the word Mindfulness.

I have endeavoured to offer these definitions below which, I believe,  reflect the  Buddha’s application of sati and his use of the word.

  1. Mindfulness applies equally to being and doing, internal and external world.
  2. Mindful sees what arises, stays and passes.
  3. Mindfulness applies equally to being and doing/action.
  4. Mindfulness contributes to inner steadiness when faced with difficulties.
  5. Mindfulness embraces the general and the specific, the bigger picture and the detail.
  6. Mindfulness shows intention, action and result. Mindfulness can spark the response to what is.
  7. Mindfulness includes the art of total listening to discern what is valuable and insightful.
  8. Mindfulness is a single limb in the body of total awakening.
  9. Mindfulness is a mental faculty and a power of mind to develop.
  10. Mindfulness is the start to transform self-centred pursuit of pleasure, negativity and fear.
  11. Mindfulness can lead to wise judgements and prevents the manipulation of our attention.
  12. Mindfulness of kindness and wisdom of others contributes to expressions of appreciation and gratitude.
  13. Mindfulness refers to four applications, body, feelings, states of mind and Dharma.
  14. Mindfulness refers to our capacity to see what is happening.
  15. Mindfulness can reveals a clear comprehension of change, initiated or not.
  16. Mindfulness reveals what is common between self and others.
  17. Mindfulness can help guard against falling prey to selfish desire, exploitation and indifference.
  18. Mindfulness serves as a step towards overcoming grief, despair and pain.
  19. Mindfulness contributes to a genuine sense of responsibility for what we know.
  20. Mindfulness with inquiry examines causes and conditions for suffering.
  21. Mindfulness supports other means to reduce stress, anxiety and physical pain.
  22. Mindfulness, awareness or clear attention can mean inter-changeable concepts.
  23. Right mindfulness includes wholesome intentions to inquire into suffering.
  24. The Buddha distinguished right or healthy mindfulness from harmful mindfulness.
  25. The Buddha said: “Mindfulness is applied to the extent necessary in order to abide without needing to lean on anything in the world” – either inwardly or outwardly.
  26. Wholesome intentions give support to mindfulness to inquire and change situations, inner and outer, personal and institutional.

PS. What Mindfulness does not mean.  21 Examples. See previous blog.



  • Thank you, Christopher. There is so much richness to explore in this reflection and the previous reflection on mindfulness. It reminds me of walking into a rainforest … quite a different experience to exploring a pine plantation forest! Again, thank you.


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