Not everyone who is mindful achieves that state (or trait) through meditation. If you take a look at the questions on the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), or Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS)*, you will probably note that some, if not many, people you know who would likely score high are not meditators.
While meditation can facilitate mindfulness, it sure doesn't always, and mindful people are not always those who meditate. That's why I have long appreciated the work of Dr. Ellen Langer who looks at mindfulness without meditation. She writes:
Mindfulness as we study it, however, is achieved without meditation. It is the simple process of noticing new things. When we notice new things about people or ideas that we think we know, we come to see that we didn't know them as well as we thought we did, and they become interesting again in the present. Everything is always changing and looks different from different perspectives. Since uncertainty is the rule, when we think we know, our mindlessness is in charge.
A very practical, everyday, approachable definition of mindfulness: noticing what is new.
Since I have become an iPhoneographer, I have been, using this definition, more mindful. Everyday I watch the sky, shadows, light, people, colors, plants, and much more to see what has changed. The shifts that occur throughout the day, each hour, even each minute, are seen by me, and I marvel.
I take photos, too. Some people think I take too many photos. When I asked someone if he wanted to see my shots of the mailman's footprints in the snow, he said, "You've lost your mind." I just smiled and said, "Nope, not at all."
What's new in your world today? Seen the mail carrier? Any prints left behind?
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*Other mindfulness assessments are described in this paper.
Image: My mailman's footprints.