People have different goals in mind when doing mindfulness. Some, such as traditional Buddhists, aim for Enlightenment, or Nirvana. That's not my goal.
Others, coming from Zen schools of Buddhism, also seek Enlightenment, but consider that momentary experiences, rather than a permanent state of mind. That's not my goal either.
My goals are simpler.
1. I want to stop my automatic mind controlling my feelings, my words, and my behaviour.
2. Instead of the automatic mind ruling, and often ruining, my life moments, I want to bring into my life my mindful mind; the one that pauses all situations, checks out what is good and not so good, and lets go of what is unhelpful or unpleasant in my mind at that moment.
3. I want my mindful mind to replace the unhelpful thoughts or feelings of the automatic mind with something more constructive, helpful, and pleasant, including our finest human qualities such as kindness, a sense of peace, joy, contentment, and so on.
My three goals can therefore be summarised as:
1. Halt the automatic mind.
2. Request the mindful mind to intervene.
3. Use the mindful mind to make things better.
These things won't just happen naturally.
We are so conditioned by evolution, our genes, and our myriad life experiences, that our automatic mind dominates our daily lives.
So we have to train the mind. That, for me, is what "mindfulness practice" or "mindfulness meditation" is for: training the mind - by deconditioning what's already inside our mind, and programming better traits and habits in their place.
This training consists of:
1. Practising noticing things deliberately, so we get better at noticing the unpleasant stuff that the automatic mind produces, and also get better at noticing the great things that we already have in life.
2. Practising letting go of unwanted things in our mind: thoughts, feelings, sounds, urges to have another caramel wafer, the desire to chck Facebook or watch the gloomy news for the third time in an hour, and so on. This is so we get better at letting go of the unwanted things in our mind in everyday life.
3. Practising bringing into our mind positive, nurturing, pleasant, and kindly thoughts, ideas, suggestions, words, and images / visualisations.
That's why it's called practice!
And it's repetitious.
That's why it's always just "notice the breath", "notice your feet on the ground", "if your mind wanders, don't get irritated, just let go of the distraction by taking your attention back to the breath" and so on, and so on.
The more you do it, the more you change your mind from junk to joy.
Yes it is repetitious.
It will save and nurture your life, your relationships, your health, your joy of life, your sense of being part of life, your sense of inner peace, and your ability to accept and withstand all that life inevitably throws at you.
It will also make you a more effective, productive, active, and useful person!
Now go notice some nice stuff :-)