Mindfulness is the faculty of sustaining voluntary attention continuously without forgetfulness or distraction. With this awareness, we are able to understand the workings of our own mind and make wise choices about where we focus our attention.
With mindfulness we become aware of our thoughts, emotions and physical state and are able to change the habitual patterns that undermine our happiness and success and that lead to unhealthy behaviors. Ultimately, we use this awareness to bring more kindness, compassion and joy into our lives, thus being part of creating a more harmonious and peaceful world.
Although it is not owned by any group, the cultivation of mindfulness can be found in many ancient contemplative traditions and the most comprehensive approach is found in Buddhist teachings. However, according to leading mindfulness researchers, to say that mindfulness is Buddhist is akin to saying that gravity is Newtonian (1).
(1) Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., Loverich, T. M., Biegel, G. M., & West, A. M. (2011). Out of the armchair and into the streets: Measuring mindfulness advances knowledge and improves interventions: Reply to Grossman (2011).