Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer is one of the leading experts on mindfulness from the perspective of Western academic psychology.
The way to pay sustained attention, she says, is to notice new things. Staring at something quickly becomes boring, so don't just look at the whole object, look at its parts, and their relation to the whole. You'll find things you never noticed before right in front of your nose.
~~ Note from Kat Tansey about this article~~
Mindfulness is about Paying Attention with a capital P and a capital A. In my book Choosing to Be, I learn about paying attention when I see how completely absorbed my kitten Catzenbear is while watching the whirlpool of water as it drains out of the tub.
In this excellent 5 minute video, Ellen Langer gives some other examples that illustrate how easy it can be to begin a practice of mindfulness.