What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?


People have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years.  Mindfulness is the act of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present.  Practicing mindfulness assists us to live in the moment, carefully observing thoughts and feelings, without judgement.  Like any skill, mindfulness takes practice.  The beauty of mindfulness practice is that we can apply it, in our everyday lives, to any activity.


Often our thoughts, rather than being focused on the here and now, are preoccupied with issues from the past or concerns about the future.  Studies have shown that rumination and worry can contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness based interventions can effectively reduce both rumination and worry.


Mindfulness is strongly correlated with improved well-being and health.  It can contribute to the following: reduced stress, improved sleep, improved immune function, reduced blood pressure, reduced pain intensity, slowed brain aging, enhanced brain neuroplasticity (brain’s ability to change), improved cognitive function, improved memory and concentration, increased ability to manage emotions, reduced emotional reactivity and decreased risk of and severity of, anxiety and depression.


Try this mindful breathing exercise.


1. Find a comfortable position.  Seated or lying.

2. Notice and relax your body. Notice the shape of your body, its weight.  Observe the sensations your body experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension and simply breathe.

3. Feel the natural flow of your breath in & out.  Breathe naturally.  Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils.  Try to  feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. Notice as  one breath ends, the next breath begins.  

4. As you do this, your mind might start to wander. You might begin thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It's very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.

5. Do this for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.  

6. After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.

7. Practice mindful breathing for 15 minutes daily.

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