Mindfulness has become synonymous with meditation. This is a damaging falsehood.
Meditation is just one way to develop mindfulness.
So what is mindfulness? According to a myriad of sources, mindfulness includes "being in the present moment" and "being aware". This is still too broad, so I define mindfulness as "intentional single-tasking".
In a world where multi-tasking has become the norm, single-tasking has fallen out of favor. Through mindfulness, single-tasking is making its comeback.
When you practice mindfulness, you are supposed to acknowledge the thoughts that are unrelated to your current focus, but then intentionally bring yourself back to the present moment.
This is why meditation seems like a popular answer for mindfulness, but I don't see the skills developed in meditation transfer to other areas of my students' work ethic and lives.
As much as I value meditation and breathing exercises to calm the mind and body, explicitly teaching single-tasking might have a greater impact on how we function as a society.
My husband frequently complements me on my ability to focus. But this is not because of something innate; it is because I am intentionally mindful about the task I'm working on. Everything else fades out of view and the task at hand is in focus.
I will be the first to admit that I am not always mindful; I may glance at my phone out of habit or think about something else while listening to someone talk.
But now that I understand what mindfulness really is, I try to apply it to all aspects of my life. I try to really enjoy the food I eat, to fully listen, and to be present in the moment, all while acknowledging the distractions and thoughts that may want to lure me away from the task at hand.
Please think of mindfulness as "intentional single-tasking" and stop bundling it up with meditation.