An Introduction to Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

When we are busy, or under a lot of pressure from different areas of our lives, it is easy to spend our time rushing around and focusing on what’s coming next, rather than what currently is. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness is a technique that can help you bring your full attention to what is happening in the present moment – namely, what you are thinking and feeling and what is happening in your immediate environment. It aims to help you take control of your emotions and improve your focus.

What are the benefits?​

benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness has a number of benefits, but in general, practicing it is thought to help us understand ourselves better, enjoy our lives more and improve our day-to-day wellbeing.

  • It does this by helping you to:
  • focus on the present
  • combat stress and keep calm
  • become more self-aware
  • be kinder to yourself
  • cope with difficult or upsetting thoughts
  • feel more in control
  • feel better able to choose how you respond to your thoughts and feelings

There is plenty of scientific research out there, which suggests that mindfulness can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. In addition, many top performing athletes and high powered career professionals are turning to mindfulness, as a tool to improve their focus and enhance their performance.

How does it work?​

Mindfulness works by helping you to notice more about yourself and what’s going on around you e.g. sights, smells, sounds, at any given moment. It can help to silence unhelpful and debilitating thoughts that may be stopping you from enjoying your daily life. The thoughts we have can impact on our behaviour, so if you can have calmer thoughts and feel more in control, then the chances are you will perform more positive actions and live a happier life.

Notice the little things

Paying attention to the smaller things in life can have a positive impact on the way we think, because it can wake us up to a lot of sensations that can be really pleasing, but that we often ignore.

For example, if you usually eat your lunch whilst working on your computer or watching TV, then perhaps you aren’t really paying much attention to the taste of what you’re eating. To be more mindful in this instance, you could try switching off your electronic devices and focus on tasting each and every mouthful of your lunch – and chances are, you’ll enjoy it so much more!

Try new things

It’s easy to get stuck in ‘autopilot’ mode; doing the same routine everyday without a second thought. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, it makes it a lot easier for us to rush through life with our eyes closed. To shake things up a bit, why not try taking a different route to the supermarket, or sitting somewhere different when you’re out in the garden? Changing up your habits can help you to see the world through fresh eyes and notice new things about your surroundings, again bringing your mind back to the present moment.

Put some distance between you and your thoughts

When you first start practicing mindfulness, you may get overwhelmed by lots of different thoughts rushing in – this is completely normal so try not to let this put you off. Instead try putting some distance between you and your thoughts by imagining them as cars driving past you, but not stopping. By acknowledging your thoughts and how you are feeling, without judging why you feel this way you allow your mind to move on without losing your awareness of the present. It can also help to label your thoughts as you watch them drive by e.g. ‘that’s my anxious thought about finding a new job’ or ‘that’s my anxious thought about all the things I have to get done by tomorrow.’

Some people find that practicing mindfulness, whilst doing some gentle exercise like walking or yoga, can really help to quiet a busy mind.

Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future

The reason that many of us have issues with staying in the present moment is because we are too busy thinking about the past and/or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can help us to reconnect with our bodies and the present which prevents us from becoming too wrapped up in our thoughts. Once we do this, we can often see how these thoughts may be driving our emotions and our behaviours.

When should I do it?

You can practice mindfulness at any moment you wish. However, when starting out, many people find it easier to build it into their routine by committing to regular times e.g. first thing in the morning or last thing before bed. As you become more familiar with it and how it works, you should be able to use it more readily.

Is it for everyone?

Mindfulness isn’t a magic solution to all your problems, but it can be a useful tool with coping with the stresses and strains of daily life. And as with anything, the more you practice it, the better at it you will be.

How do I get started?

You can practice being in the present moment on your own, whenever is convenient for you. It usually helps to start by focusing on small things, for example shutting your eyes for ten minutes and focus only on your breathing, or thinking about how the sun feels on your skin as you walk to work. As you become more comfortable with it, you can begin to do it as and when you need to e.g. when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

For those new to mindfulness, joining a local class can be a good way to learn the skills needed to get started, or for those who would prefer to do it in the comfort of your own home – you can read more about Mindfulness on the NHS website here.

Palouse Mindfulness also offer a free eight-week mindfulness course, which is inspired by the program founded by John Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The course will give you access to free articles, videos and guided meditations for you to work through in your own time.

There are also a number of popular paid for services that you can download on your mobile phone – there are plenty out there, but Calm and Headspace are a couple of popular ones that both offer a free trial period.  We also have a mixture of free and paid for mindfulness courses available on site, which you can browse here.

Do you have any experience of mindfulness? Are you a passionate advocate? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected], or leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

34 thoughts on “An Introduction to Mindfulness

  1. Avatar
    Adrienne Wilkinson on Reply

    I went out without a jacket and found myself thinking about how cold it was, but feeling the actual cold and just concentrating on that took my mind off everything else. I literally just thought of and felt nothing else.

    1. Avatar
      Catherine Brannan on Reply

      I live my life by mindfulness and nature connection. It has allowed me to let go of all the worry and situations outwith my control, leaving space to concentrate on that which I can control I.e. my own thoughts, emotions and behaviour. I love it so much I gave up my job at 55 to teach mindfulness and nature connection.

      1. Avatar
        Kathryn Chapman on

        I can thoroughly recommend the Be Mindful online course. Despite doing the course two years ago I still do the meditations now whenever I’m stressed. Give yourself time to take it on board – be patient and gently curious of the world around you. You will not regret it I promise you!

  2. Avatar
    Richard on Reply

    I started doing mindfulness (Headspace) about 18 months ago and I can honestly say it’s transformed my life. I’m less stressed and I sleep well – I’d like to think I’m a much more ‘whole’ person these days

    1. Avatar
      Emily Rowbottom on Reply

      I have these techniques before & found them very helpful as I have suffered with anxiety & depression through my life.
      I have been taught plenty of methods which at the time were extremely useful but when I get back in my work routine they seem to drift to wayside & then daily pressures become my life & can take over.
      Calm i think i did that via a therapist by following the app on phone & listening to gentle music play. Yes was relaxing if no one else is around. May try again cannot do any harm . Thanku

  3. Avatar
    Aiida on Reply

    I am in a very bad place at the moment due to husbands parsnoi and it’s taking it toll.on my health not eating sleeping and panic attacks , so hopefully I have read this at a good time Iwill.give it my best

  4. Avatar
    David Taylor on Reply

    Perhaps I should try this too, I’ve never been that confident in my own body, don’t really like myself.
    Find I keep going over why I can’t meet a decent lady in my life, told in my teens by a girl I fancied, I was too nice for her, this has never left my mind and I’m 66 now.

    1. Avatar
      Caroline Beckett on Reply

      David, your post made me do a double take! I suffer from depression/anxiety and also social anxiety. Body ailments too. I’ve felt like you for a long time and I’ve decided to be mindful.
      Let me know how you get on, I’m 64.

      1. Avatar
        David taylor on

        Thanks Caroline, I will do, I love my music and football, so happy there, it’s the relationship and nerves that I find difficult and many negative thoughts too😄

    2. Avatar
      Christine Wischhusen on Reply

      I am sending you a big hug this morning. Hugs are important and dont cost a penny. Instead of saying why havent I met anyone? Get on a dating site, or join U3A in your area nowadays there are lots of opportunities. If you stay in your comfort zone nothing will happen. There is probably someone out there feeling just like you. Biggest hugs coming your way.

      1. Avatar
        Kathryn Chapman on

        I can thoroughly recommend the Be Mindful online course. Despite doing the course two years ago I still do the meditations now whenever I’m stressed. Give yourself time to take it on board – be patient and gently curious of the world around you. You will not regret it I promise you!

  5. Avatar
    Anonymous on Reply

    I started Mindfullness about three or four months ago, amazing suggest reading Kamlesh Patel The heartfulness way alsp Daaji is on line most days wonderful peaceful wise man, does not preach just tells it like it is reccommend join the world wide meditation sessionsheld most afternoon around 4pm our time try it good luck.

  6. Avatar
    Lynn Ashworth on Reply

    i have always found it hard to to leave negative comments about myself in the past and switch off. So many things in life can drag you down. I think mindfulness could be good for me. So much of the time I go over the past and all it does is use up my energy. This could help to focus more on each day and to live in the moment.

  7. Avatar
    Christine P K on Reply

    Thank you I find this really interesting. I half heartedly been doing colouring Mandala’s which I have found to be awesome, and of course you can’t think of anything else, can you. XXX

  8. Avatar
    Shirley on Reply

    I will try this. I’m not in a good space either, feel very emotional, fearful, anxious, struggle to concentrate, am forgetful etc etc and struggle to sleep. I will definitely give this a go. THANK YOU

  9. Avatar
    Vivian on Reply

    I have seen this before but not taken it on. I am now in a space where I think it might be for me. Thanks for the direction I will be looking into it right now.

  10. Avatar
    Malcolm Wheeler on Reply

    Mindfulness came to me through the book ‘Drawing on the right side of the Brain’. Doing the exercises in the book and using the techniques slipped me into a feeling of complete stillness with a wonderful feeling of calm. This euphoria appears suddenly mostly when preparing a meal ie cutting up meat and veg. I now need to learn to focus and bring the the mindfulness more in being.

  11. Avatar
    Patricia Smith on Reply

    I suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression and this has culminated in me being house bound. Would love to give it a go

  12. Avatar
    Helen on Reply

    Hi, I have always rushed around in my work and home life. Now where I have been put on furlough for the last 5 1/2 months I have been able to slow down, plant vegetables for the first time, get my house/garden in order and now I am focusing on changing my career aged 50.
    I have started meditating (just 10 mins in a quiet room) it allows you to slow down and not think about anything. It makes you feel good and I’m trying to focus all my thoughts on Joyful moments. Apparently if you try block out the worries and blanket them with happy thoughts, everything around you will change to happiness. Great to read all the suggestions and keep doing activities that bring you happiness to put a smile on your face 🙂
    NB: I’ve been reading several books and ‘The Universe has your back’ is the one that I’ve enjoyed by Gabrielle Bernstein

  13. Avatar
    Nancy on Reply

    I’m in a bad Place right now and don’t want to be taking antidepressants had never heard of this so I’m looking Forward to trying this. Thank you.

  14. Avatar
    Kate on Reply

    As l have aged l find that l get more upset about problems that l cannot do anything to resolve particularly in regard of my grandchildren l will look at this way of changing and see how l get on

    1. Avatar
      Nadine on Reply

      That resonates with me re. grandchildren and yet I know I need to relax and not get so anxious about them and other family members . I need to concentrate on myself and wait for others to ask for my help if they want it. Hoping that by using Mindfulness I will become more relaxed and less anxious

  15. Avatar
    Kathryn Chapman on Reply

    I can thoroughly recommend the Be Mindful online course. Despite doing the course two years ago I still do the meditations now whenever I’m stressed. Give yourself time to take it on board – be patient and gently curious of the world around you. You will not regret it I promise you!

Leave a Reply

Get the latest advice, news and inspiration

No spam. Just interesting and useful stuff, straight to your inbox. For free.

By providing us your email address you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the link in our emails.

Good luck with your application

Before you go, we’d love to stay in touch to find out how you get on. Sign up to Rest Less today to get the latest volunteering, careers, learning, financial planning and lifestyle resources sent straight to your inbox.

By providing your email you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time through the link in our emails.

Good luck with your application

Before you go, we’d love to stay in touch to find out how you get on. Sign up to Rest Less today to get the latest jobs, learning, volunteering, financial planning and lifestyle resources sent straight to your inbox.

By providing your email you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time through the link in our emails.