I have a knee jerk reaction to the word mindfulness. It's used quite a bit. Its ubiquitous nature feels snug like spandex.
There is a story in the book Thank You and Okay about a tall monk from Texas living in a Japanese temple with a short Japanese monk. This texan monk keeps banging his head on this low hanging beam above the bathroom door. After an outburst, the Japanese monk serenely offers, "This is to bring you mindfulness."
The texan offers, "Well, why don't I go get the chain saw and lower it 6 inches so it can bring you mindfulness, too!"
Our tradition approaches Buddhism, mindfulness included, as something we already are, suddenly and completely. We don't sit Zazen because we need to become Buddhas; we sit Zazen because we are Buddhas, this is what the Buddha looks like when she sits. It's very ceremonial, and all of these ceremonies are for what we already are. This spills into our life.
I use tricks, too, like breathing in someone's emotion, and breathing out compassion at them. But this is a trick. It makes life more bearable, like the 8 fold path, but it's not necessary for awakening, because you already awakened.
I'm getting the feeling that mindfulness in the Theravadan tradition is something really different. I'm also hearing that it's something to get.
In our school, there is nothing to get. Your deluded self is there to study, your mindful self is there to study. Kosho Zenrei says, "Sun faced Buddha, moon faced Buddha. What you like is Buddha, what you don't like is Buddha."
How do we say this in a sincere way? Buddhism is more than self help. Self help may be what gets us through the door, this desire to end our suffering, but how do we point out that mindfulness, Zen practice, Buddha dharma are also things that you can crave, hate, and delude the self with?