Series: What Mindfulness Means to Me, Zan Barry

Series: What Mindfulness Means to Me, Zan Barry

As the word “mindfulness” gains wider use and moves more into the mainstream, confusion can arise about what it means.  In addition, “mindfulness” means different things to different people.  In an effort to share a range of perspectives on the meaning of mindfulness and to facilitate a discussion about this important topic, we will be posting a series of short essays by different contributors on “What Mindfulness Means to Me.”  The piece below by Zan Barry is the first in the series.  Stay tuned for more!  

Series: What Mindfulness Means to Me, Zan Barry

My mindfulness practice is about developing an appetite for life. Not just a grudging acceptance or tolerance for myself or for life, but an appetite for it. There is a little phrase coined by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: “one-with.” In my experience, being one-with means having an appetite for life as it actually, basically is.

The wonderful thing about being one-with is that it bypasses the mind of complaint, that voice in the head that likes to edit, argue with, or photoshop what is. In fact, whenever the mind of complaint starts chattering, I like to repeat this mindfulness mantra: “IS, IS, IS, IS, IS.”

The most profound application of mindfulness is in our relationship with ourselves. Self-compassion research is a growing field. More than self-esteem, self-compassion is seen as a skill for developing a deeper, more meaningful experience of life. 

Being one-with cultivates self-compassion and self-compassion cultivates being one-with. There is no better moment coming later in which to be yourself. This moment is your only home. As the saying goes, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

Zan Barry develops university health programs, including stress reduction, sleep, and mindfulness initiatives. She is trained as a yoga and meditation teacher and has degrees in psychology and education.

Email us at to submit your own definition of what mindfulness means to you.

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