As the mindfulness joke goes, what do we want? Mindfulness! When do we want it? Now!

Mindfulness, indeed, is designed to keep us in the now. But there is frequent confusion about how exactly that occurs, and what mindfulness feels like. So let’s start with four things that mindfulness often gets mistaken for:

Mindfulness Impostor #1: An empty mind. Your mind is designed to think, notice, concentrate—anything but be empty. Don’t ask of your mind what it isn’t designed to do.

Mindfulness Impostor #2: Flow. Oftentimes, mindfulness is thought of as a state of deep concentration or absorption. And while it’s probably possible to lose oneself in mindfulness, this state of energized full immersion is more accurately described as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow.


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