Thursday, 5 February 2015

Mindfulness for enhanced wellbeing

You've probably heard much talk in the media about mindfulness and how it can be beneficial for a whole range of issues, but what is mindfulness and how does it work?

What is ‘mindfulness’?

Mindfulness has its roots in Eastern meditation practices and it was first introduced into modern health care by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. It can be defined as paying attention to our experience in the present moment, to what is going on in our mind, body and day-to-day life, in a non-judgemental or accepting way (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

How can mindfulness help?

Our minds are constantly thinking and imagining. We often get caught up in these thoughts and place too much weight on them, which can have a knock-on effect on our mood and subsequent behaviour. However, despite the significant effect these thoughts can have on our feelings and behaviour, they are simply creations of our mind - not reality. 

Mindfulness can help by making us more aware of the mind's processes and, with practice, we can learn to let our thoughts come and go without much consideration.  This frees us from the constant worries, thoughts of the past, or plans for the future. 

An exercise in mindfulness

There are many exercises and techniques for practising mindfulness. Try the exercise below and note how it makes you feel afterwards. 

Exercise: Breathing to connect - Sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed. For the next six minutes connect with your breathing. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your rib cage and follow the air in and out of your lungs. Let any thoughts and feelings come and go, and each time you notice that your attention has wandered, gently refocus (you’ll need to do this again and again… and again). For the next three minutes expand your awareness so that you’re aware of your body and feelings as well as your breath. For the final minute open your eyes and connect with the room around you, as well as with your body, your feelings, and your breathing (Harris, 2007).


With practice, mindfulness can enhance your wellbeing in the long term by reducing your stress levels and providing inner strength and resources. Indeed studies have shown that the brain actually changes with mindfulness practice.

Further information

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