Mindfulness is not thinking, interpreting, or evaluating; it is an awareness of perception. It is a nonjudgmental quality of mind which does not anticipate the future or reflect back on the past.
Any activity can be done with mindfulness. Talking on the telephone, cleaning your home, driving, working, and exercising can all be incorporated into your mindfulness practice.
Throughout the day, inwardly pause and become very aware of where you are, what you are doing, and how you are feeling. Try to do this in a way that doesn’t cast value judgments on your experience. For example, if you notice that you are nervous, don’t think “Oh, I’m nervous, that’s so stupid of me…” Simply note, “I am feeling nervous,” without evaluating whether it is good or bad. Just notice that the nervousness is present.
When mindfulness is the primary tool of meditation, the awareness that we apply to our breath (or to whatever our focus of meditation is) can be expanded to include all physical and mental processes so that we may become more mindful of our thoughts and actions.
It is commonly thought that meditators hope to stop all thoughts and rest their minds in thoughtless peace. A common complaint of beginning meditators is that they cannot meditate well, because they cannot stop thoughts from arising in their minds. Actually, having thoughts is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s what’s supposed to happen. Dealing with thoughts is how mindfulness meditation works. When you notice that you are distracted by thoughts, use your mindfulness to gently bring your attention back to the object of your meditation. This is how you slowly become able to control your mind and increase your powers of concentration.