The Attitudes of Mindfulness

The attitudes of mindfulness are the soil in which we cultivate mindfulness. We work on cultivating these attitudes consciously in our mindfulness practice. The attitudes are not independent of one another. Working on one will automatically help to cultivate the others.


When we slow down and pay attention to the activities of the mind through meditation, we quickly notice how the mind constantly judges our experience, labelling our experience as either ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘neutral’. This habit of labelling our experience in this way can get us caught in automatic reactions which can dominate our experience. When we practice mindfulness, it is helpful to invite a quality of impartiality, reminding ourselves that we are simply watching things as they unfold. However, if you notice your mind judging, be aware of not judging the judging or trying to force your mind to stop. You can simply notice the judging as judging without acting on these judgements.


Patience refers to an understanding that things will unfold in their own time. A butterfly must emerge from a chrysalis in its own time. Breaking open the chrysalis to speed things up does not help the butterfly. In the same way we work patiently with our minds and bodies when practising mindfulness. We create room to have whatever experience we are having. We don’t try to rush through moments that might seem challenging to get to ‘better’ moments.

Beginner’s mind

The richness of our lives is to be found in our present moment experience. We often do not grasp the extraordinary in the ‘ordinary’. Cultivating a beginner’s mind is cultivating the willingness to see everything as if for the first time. Each time we sit for our meditation practice, we can set the intention to do so with a beginner’s mind, as though it is always the very first time that we are practicing, free from expectations based on our past experiences. Adopting a beginner’s mind allows us to be open to new possibilities and avoids becoming stuck in a rut. As with the meditation practice, we can also bring these fresh eyes to our lives. We can commit to seeing the people in our lives, our pets, our surroundings and nature as if for the first time each time we see them. “Are you able to see the sky, the stars, the trees, the water, and the rocks as they are right now, with a clear and uncluttered mind? Or are you only seeing them through the veil of your own thoughts, opinions and Emotions?”


An attitude of trusting yourself and your own wisdom is important in meditation. For instance, in mindful movement, if a particular stretch feels like too much for your body, it’s important to trust this feeling and back off. Meditation emphasises being your own person and understanding what it means to be yourself. By practising mindfulness, you are taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to trust your own being. The more you learn to trust yourself, the more you’ll be able to trust others and to trust their basic goodness.


In life we do nearly everything for a particular purpose. However, striving with a purpose can be an obstacle in meditation. Although there is work and energy involved, meditation is non-doing. If you strive toward becoming calm or controlling your pain or becoming a better person, you are introducing the idea that you are not enough right now rather than allowing and noticing your actual experience. In meditation, the best way to achieve your goals is to back off from them and instead focus on seeing and accepting things as they are. With patience and regular practice, movement towards your goals will take place by itself.


Sooner or later, we always need to face up to the reality of things, whether it is the diagnosis of illness or the death of someone close to you. Aside from the big tragedies in life which naturally take time to accept, we often spend energy in our day-to-day life denying what is already fact. With this approach, we are basically trying to force situations to be different to how they actually are which results in further tension. When we fight with what is in this way, we may have little energy left for healing and growing. Acceptance can be seen as the pre-condition for healing. It has nothing to do with passive resignation but rather, seeing things as they actually are creates the conditions where you can take appropriate action as opposed to acting from a place where your vision is clouded by self-serving judgments, wants, fears and biases.

Letting go

As we begin to meditate, we may notice that there are certain thoughts, feeling and sensations in the body that the mind wants to hold onto. There are also thoughts, feelings and sensations in the body that the mind doesn’t like and wants to push away. As we meditate, we work to soften our bias towards experience so instead of favouring certain experiences and rejecting others, we cultivate the capacity to hold all experiences equally. Letting go can also be understood as letting be or letting things be as they are.

1. Kabat-Zinn, Jon. 2013. Full Catastrophe Living. New York, NY: Bantam Dell Publishing Group. Chicago. Chapter 2. The foundations of Mindfulness Practice; Attitudes and Commitment.