Mindfulness is an established technique that teaches us how to relate to our thoughts and feelings, and how to live life with increased calm and presence.
Want to learn mindfulness? Yogobe offers several inspiring and practical online videos of lectures, mindfulness exercises and meditations to try at home.
What is mindfulness
Mindfulness is a method and ability defined as the ability to stay present, on purpose, in the now and without judgment. Mindfulness can provide an increased awareness, clarity and acceptance in our lives, and it can be applied in everything we do. It helps us to be present in who we are, what we do, and to appreciate life while embracing opportunities for development.
The concept of mindfulness was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It originates in Buddhism and the technique is a combination of eastern meditation and contemporary psychology. In 1978, Kabat-Zinn began researching the effects of these ancient techniques on chronically ill patients in a hospital. The research showed positive results and since then, many Mindfulness based interventions (MBI) have been developed, combining the knowledge from contemplative traditions with western psychology. Today MBI is a well-established method that is practiced in health care and psychotherapy to treat states of stress, depression and anxiety.
When we practice mindfulness we can draw from our five senses: touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste. A common way to practice mindfulness is to pay attention to one’s breathing, so as to notice what it feels like to breathe from moment to moment.
Try mindfulness online for free
Are you interested in trying Mindfulness at home? Check out our content within mindfulness:
- Our audio and video library with a variety of mindfulness classes, exercises and lectures.
- Our mindfulness meditation program Explore Mindfulness
If you are not already a member of Yogobe, you can try our services for 14 days for free – get started now!
Stress is not harmful in smaller doses, however, if it becomes chronic then it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Stress occurs as a reaction to a demand that can feel overwhelming in the moment, and it can leave us feeling out of control. Mindfulness helps to shift our focus to what we can control, that is, our present moment experience and how we choose to react to it.
Mindfulness teaches us to soften our grip on ruminating thoughts about the past and the future, to help us become more present and to cultivate an inner calm. By practicing mindfulness you can change your perspective on life, and improve your relationships to yourself and the world around you.
Research demonstrates that practicing mindfulness, even if just for a couple of weeks, can have a positive physical, mental and social impact on people’s lives. We have outlined a few studies on mindfulness here.
Benefits of mindfulness
- Has a calming and relaxing effect
- Can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety
- Helps us manage feelings and thoughts
- Can improve concentration and increase focus
- Contributes to better sleep
- Increases ability to be present and enjoy life
- Helps us provide better support to people in our surroundings
- Contributes to increased well-being in our daily life
Mindfulness principles for increased awareness
Kabat-Zinn developed nine mindfulness principles to support one’s practice. These can help you remain in the present without judgment, and to release control of that which we cannot change to accept what is in this moment. The nine mindfulness principles are:
- Beginners mind
Tips to establish mindfulness in daily life
- The brain produces streams of thought whether we want it or not. By accepting this we can improve our ability to allow thoughts to pass us by like clouds on a sky, without judging them as good or bad, and without attaching to them.
- You can begin practicing mindfulness in a resting supine position to help relax your body and breath. With time and practice, mindfulness can become an effortless state of being.
- Become aware of your breathing, particularly when you are experiencing intense emotions.
- Notice your surroundings in each moment, focus on visuals, sounds and scents and allow these sensory impressions to flow freely through your awareness.
- Remember that your thoughts and feelings change and they do not define who you are. This insight can liberate you from becoming stuck in a thought or emotion.
- Focus on bodily sensations as much as possible, for example: the wind against your skin, the sensation in your feet as you walk, or the sensation in your body as you sit on a chair.
Three important elements in mindfulness
There are three elements that are important when practicing mindfulness:
- Purpose: To be aware of where your attention goes and what the purpose of your practice is.
- Presence: To focus your attention on the now, so that you can be aware and present from moment to moment.
- Attitude: A non-judgmental and accepting attitude that includes being compassionate towards yourself and your experiences.
Different orientations of mindfulness
Different orientations of mindfulness have been developed over the years, such as:
- Mindfulness based stress reduction – MBSR
- Mindfulness based cognitive therapy – MBCT
- Cultivating emotional balance – CEB
- Stress management and relaxation techniques – SMART
- Acceptance and commitment therapy – ACT
- Compassion focused therapy – CFT
”The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still.”