The Contemporary Definition of Mindfulness is Incomplete

The contemporary definition of mindfulness as outlined by Jon Kabat-Zinn is: “Awareness of the present moment on purpose, in a particular way and non-judgmentally.” Is being non-judgmental with our experience the end point of mindfulness, or is there more to it?

Originally from historic Theravada Buddhism one of the main goals of mindfulness was to act skillfully. Apparently JKZ deliberately did not include acting skillfully in the definition. He stated: “Clinical psychologists want very linear and easy to understand definitions. One can’t understand mindfulness with your thinking mind. It is like a koan.” A koan is a puzzle that Zen Buddhists use in their practice to help reveal greater insights through non-conceptual intuition.

That may be true, but most people who practice mindfulness are not Zen practitioners. They want a clear definition and roadmap that outlines what mindfulness is and what is its purpose. According to the definition it seems that the end point is to be non-judgmental. This explains how one is in relationship with the present moment but not what do you do next. The ultimate goal of mindfulness is not to be non-judgmental but to act skillfully in an ethical and non-harming manner. The contemporary definition of mindfulness is misleading!

by Dr. Phil Blustein