The Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

Reference: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

By: Jan Kabat-Zin, Ph.D.

The focus you have when you practise mindfulness, paying attention to the present moment and seeing things as they are without trying to change them, through mediation is crucial. If your energy and commitment to practice is low, it will be hard to develop calmness and relaxation with any consistency.

As well, your attitude that you bring to the practice of mindfulness will, to a large extent, determine the long-term value of mindfulness. Keeping particular attitudes in mind is actually part of mindfulness training and sets the stage for what is possible by being mindful.

Seven Attitudinal Factors for Mindfulness Practice

There are seven attitudinal factors that make up the pillars of mindfulness practice. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to cultivate the others.

The Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

1. Non-Judging          Non-judging means being impartial to you r own thoughts and experiences. Almost everything we see and do is categorized by the mind. We judge and react to everything we experience in terms of what we think its value is to us. These judgements often have no objective basis and tend to dominate our thoughts.When practicing mindfulness it is imperative that we be aware of these automatic judgements, prejudices and fears to our thoughts and be impartial to them.To practice effectively, just observe our thoughts but do not judge them or act on them and then revert back to focusing on our breath.
2. Patience          We must accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own way and time.Patience can be particularly helpful quality to invoke when the mind is agitated.To practice effectively, be completely open to each moment, accepting it and understand that things can only unfold in their own time.
3. Beginner’s Mind          To often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” prevent us from seeing things as they really are.To really appreciate awareness of the present moment we need to have the “beginners mind” and be willing to see things as if it was for the first time. You must be free of expectations based on past experiences.The “beginner’s mind” allows you to be receptive to new possibilities.
4. Trust          Trusting yourself and your own basic wisdom and goodness is very important in all aspects of mindfulness practice.It is far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some mistakes along the way, than to always look outside of yourself for guidance. If something does not feel rightto you, why not honour your feelings?Mindfulness emphasizes being your own person, understanding what it means to be yourself, taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen and trust yourself.
5. Non-striving          Mediation is a non-doing, it is simply paying attention to whatever is happening. If you are tense you just pay attention to the tension. If you are criticizing yourself, then observe the activity of the judging mind.Practicing mindfulness simple allows anything and everything that we experience from moment to moment to be here, because it already is
6. Acceptance          This means seeing and coming to terms with and accepting things as they are in the present.Often we waste a lot of energy denying and resisting what is really fact. We are basically trying to force situations to be the way we would like them to be.The attitude of acceptance allows us to act appropriately in our life, no matter what is happening.The practice of Mindfulness allows us to be open to whatever we are feeling, thinking or seeing and to accept it because it is here right now.
7. Letting Go
        This attitude of letting go allows us to let things be and accept things as they are.Sometimes we find it difficult to let something go because it has such a strong hold over our minds. In these instances we can direct our attention (mindfulness) to what “holding on” feels like and the consequences it has on our lives. Conversely, when we finally do let go mindfulness allows us to aware of what it feels like in these moments and what the consequences of that are.


A strong commitment to working on mastering these seven attitudes of mindfulness is essential to developing a strong mediation practice. They allow meditation to become a “way of being” and this allows the power of mindfulness to be put to practical use.

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