Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy, which breaks down situations and looks to future goals, mindfulness is tuning into thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without passing judgment. It is acknowledging the thoughts and feelings for what they are without passing judgment on them, which is believing a thought is right or wrong. Mindfulness also focuses on remaining in the present without thinking about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
Meditation is often involved in mindfulness. A typical meditation with mindfulness in mind is focusing solely on the breath and what is felt while breathing. Patients often use counting as a way to gauge how long they can focus on meditation. When focus wavers, and it often will, the counting starts over again. Even if the focus wavered to something such as what’s going to be for dinner that night and not an anxious thought, the patient must still start their counting over again.