Mindfulness is situational awareness of the body and its context, which occurs effortlessly at all times. Precisely where that awareness occurs, I have no idea. Awareness isn't the best term, as there is no such thing as awareness, but I don't have another convenient word, at this time. Regardless, when it fully opens up, you are safe there. True mindfulness is the pinnacle of what Buddha taught. Knowing your body and its context leads to the end of suffering. This is why Thich Nhat Hanh called it the safe island of mindfulness. This is not a mindfulness that is performed by cognizant effort, however, when introduced to the idea of being mindful, one is lavished with a range of various mindfulness-based techniques, which may or may not be helpful.
Therefore, if we look at this in progressive terms, we might be able to find an answer to your question. In the beginning, as one approaches the practice of being mindful, one must exert themselves. This very exertion gives mindfulness a definition which makes it stand out from other things - it becomes a routine task, a behaviour that one must perform.
This is the preamble phase where a lot of discernment takes place, or what you might call witnessing. In this preliminary phase, the mind is going through a preparation, from which sensory preoccupations begin to diminish leading to disenchantment.
During that preparation, many questions will arise about the nature of mindfulness, mostly what it actually is, and are you doing it right. These, too, need to become part of what is discerned (or witnessed). Witnessing isn't the best term as it suggests one must push aside thoughts, feelings & sensations so that the witnessing can take place. However, these discernable things must remain intimately close, closer than close. The quality of attention that is used to discern passing phenomena (thoughts, feelings & sensations) is crucial to the whole practice.
In Zen terms, this is called 'sweeping' (popular in the Caodong school) and one sweeps with such persistence and regularity that the great empty sky suddenly opens up and all distinctions dissolve. Why is that? Because the discerning mind becomes disenchanted by what it has become caught inside of and seeks freedom as if all by itself.
Over in the Theravada tradition, in the Anguttara Nikaya and Buddhagosa's Path Of Purification, Page 684 a simile of a crow was used to illustrate the meaning of tathāgatako, which I colloquially translate as 'gone, mate!'. The crow symbolizes the disenchantment of the mind brought about by unrelenting mindfulness practice, and how it searches for another place of rest, which in Buddhist parlance is called Nirvana. It is here where one truly understands mindfulness, but not from the perspective of doing, hence it no longer becomes a task. One might say it is now the ordinary part of daily life.
The 7 Stages of Purification - Page 107