According to Kabat Zinn, 5 characteristics play an important role in Mindfulness Meditation: non-judgment, acceptance, letting go, compassion for oneself and curiosity.
Being totally mindful means being totally aware of the present moment without getting caught up by judgement, opinions, likes, dislikes, analysis and ideas (Kabat-Zinn 2013). Judgemental behaviour limits the ability to noticing everything that may happen in the present moment and its full capacity. The goal is to become a neutral observer and think as objectively as possible about what is happening (Kabat Zinn 2013).
„Acceptance means seeing things as they actually are in the present“ (Kabat Zinn 2015). When you don't automatically judge your experience, you can see it with bare attention and without any distortion. Acceptance doesn't mean to take a passive attitude toward things and to abandon personal values – it is not about giving up, being soft, being complacent or ignorant; rather it means to have a clear view of what is actually happening versus a mind full of self-serving judgments and prejudices.
Often people minds seem to hold on thoughts, feelings, situations and experiences that prevent them from being totally aware of what is happening in the moment. Letting go means to have the opportunity to focus on you want to focus on by letting go of all unimportant and distracting thoughts as well as uninvited emotions. It is not denial but it is an active choice to not investigate things that cannot be influenced. Once you are conscious of the irritation, you can accept it without identifying with it and then you are in a better state to decide what to do with it.
Compassion for oneself:
Compassion for oneself means to look at oneself with kindness and without judgement; to be able to look on and observe oneself as neutrally and objectively as possible. With a compassionate attitude, you are able to neutralize emotions so that they don't have the chance to disrupt your balance and you can refocus on what you want to focus on. This attitude also invites you to approach mistakes or failures as good/informative and as an opportunity to improve. When you view yourself with kindness, you are better able to see things as they really are.
Having compassion for oneself does not mean to close your eyes to your own failures and mistakes. It means to know about them, to neutralize your emotions and to accept mistakes – as well as the successes.
Curiosity helps you to access the really subtle things that are going on in the present moment. Without curiosity, improvement is difficult. A child learning to walk is naturally curious about during their attempts and will finally work out - with trial, error, motivation and curiosity – how to walk.
These 5 characteristics are key to being able to be totally aware of the present moment. A musician can thus learn to take a step back and to observe with consciousness. One can realize that each feeling (e.g. anxiety) and thought (e.g. I’m going to have black outs), are just „passive events in the mind rather than an inherent aspect of the self or a valid reflection on reality“ (Chang, 2011; Bishop, 2002).