Mindfulness is the ability to study your experience at the same time as you are having it. When you use mindfulness, you are your own impartial witness.
To engage mindfulness, we "turn inward," usually with eyes closed, to witness every bit of our present-moment experience with acceptance and without judgment. We begin to notice the feelings, sensations, thoughts, impulses and images that come together around a certain topic or issue and create the experience we are currently having.
By studying our present experience, we can begin to learn why we are the way we are and how the past might be influencing the present. Here we have the opportunity to choicefully shift our experience to the present moment, or change long-standing patterns of behavior by reworking outdated beliefs about ourselves, others and life.
Engaging mindfulness lets us witness how we have learned to react or disconnect in certain situations in order to protect ourselves. Often we are reacting to things that happened a long time ago, but that have no actual bearing on the present moment.
Mindful self-study helps us to see these patterns so that we can begin to respond to life in a way that is true to our authentic, present-moment self.