Mindfulness is the act of deliberately focussing awareness and attention on the present moment without judgment. The 3 important characteristics of mindfulness are: being deliberate, staying in the present moment, and being non-judgmental.
Practicing mindfulness has many benefits. We can see, feel and fully experience the simple pleasures in life – a beautiful sunset, the smell of sage on a hillside, the Northern lights. Focussing on the present can help reduce anxiety about the future and regrets or hurts from the past. Mindfulness has a positive effect on stress, sleep problems, and chronic pain, and helps us manage depression, become substance-free and address other mental health problems.
You can become a serious student and practitioner of mindfulness. But even without training, you can become more mindful as you go about your daily life. During just about any daily task – eating, showering, walking the dog, holding your child – you can begin by focussing your attention on your body, starting with your breathe. Notice how it feels to take air in and then let it out. Then shift your attention to what do you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste. Let yourself sink into these sensations and enjoy them. If you get distracted by an emotion or a thought, just accept it (without judgment) and bring yourself back to the present.
A good and popular introduction to mindfulness is taking the time to fully experience eating a single raisin. This 2-1/2 minute video provides a guided introduction to mindfulness. If you think this is a lot of time to spend on just one raisin, you are right. But imagine experiencing the whole world, or at least the part of the world you inhabit, with the richness of this one raisin.