Method Description

Skill: Mindfulness;
Habit: Meditation

“I like to think of mindfulness simply as the art of conscious living.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn


Developing our mindfulness skills involves transforming the way our mind usually operates. For this reason, mindfulness can be a difficult concept to grasp at first. A deep understanding of mindfulness is learnt experientially.

Mindfulness practice is learning to relate to things in a direct way, without the mental filters of concepts, past experiences, or value judgements placed on top.


Mindfulness is awareness.



Try this mode of being now—pick an object close to you, and try to just observe it without labelling it. Notice the colours, shape, and size without making judgements about its appearance or utility.

This practice in Zen Buddhism is called Shoshin (初心), meaning "beginner's mind." It refers to having an attitude of openness and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, just as a beginner would. When we practice seeing our inner and outer worlds with this attitude of curiosity, it opens up a greater capacity for self-compassion, joy and gratitude.



Misconceptions About Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is not about emptying the mind or stopping thinking—it's about learning to observe our thoughts
  • Mindfulness is not a relaxation technique—relaxation is a by-product of mindfulness and meditation
  • Mindfulness is not "fluffy", "New Age" or "woo woo"—it is an evidence-based approach recommended by NICE as a preventative practice for people who experience recurring depressive episodes. Mindfulness practice has been shown to rewire our brain and body. Learning about the compelling science behind mindfulness and meditation can be a powerful motivator—we highly recommend learning about the science of mindfulness and meditation using the resources below
  • Mindfulness is not a form of escapism—it's about being fully present in the here and now



Key differences between poor mindfulness skills and strong mindfulness skills:

Poor Mindfulness Skills

Strong Mindfulness Skills

Autopilot mode, reacting with habit

Thoughts concern re-living the past and projecting into the future

Poor attentional control

Taking life's pleasures for granted

Placing judgement on perceptions—labelling things as good/bad, right/wrong

Driven by emotions

We neglect our potential

A limiting attitude

Mindful mode, responding with awareness

Thoughts concern the present

Strong attentional control

We enjoy life's pleasures

Perceiving without judgement—being aware of things without labelling them, ‘non-conceptual knowing’

Able to step back and observe emotions

We realise our potential

An attitude of openness, curiosity and acceptance

The habit of meditation is a highly effective way to improve our mindfulness skills. Meditation involves setting aside time to focus our attention on the present moment, non-judgementally.

There are many different forms of meditation. Popular types include:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Body scan meditation
  • Loving-kindness (metta) meditation
  • Vipassana meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Sound meditation

Where to start

If you’re new to meditation, guided meditations are a great place to start. Both the apps Insight Timer and Calm offer excellent 7 Day introductory courses.

If you experience breathing difficulties, focusing on your breath as an anchor may feel uncomfortable at first. Try focusing your attention on your belly rather than your nostrils, as this tends to feel calmer. Over time, focusing on your breathing will become more comfortable.

For guidance on how to cultivate a regular meditation practice, read The New Habit Framework which outlines the 4 science-based steps of habit formation.
 
 
 

The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner

Are you feeling a little lost, uncertain or uninspired by life? Is this starting to impact your mood and energy levels? Do you want to cultivate your mindfulness skills and learn simple yet powerful techniques for feeling happier and quieting your inner critic?

Transform your life today with The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner. This 28-page comprehensive printable guide contains powerful self-help methods from the fields of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and positive psychology.

Discover tonnes of exercises, techniques, tools and self-reflective questions to help you cultivate mindfulness, take control of your mind and improve your mood.

Buy on Etsy
 

The Habit Tracker and Planner

Looking for a way to create positive changes in your life? The Habit Tracker and Planner is designed to guide you through the science-based steps of long-lasting behaviour change, covering exercise, nutrition, sleep and habits for mental wellbeing.

Investing in this easy-to-use, empowering tool will help you overcome obstacles and begin your journey to a healthier, happier you.

Buy on Etsy
 

In Person Courses

8 Week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR)
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course is the most recognised and established mindfulness course internationally, and is scientifically proven to help people improve their mental wellbeing.

MBSR combines experiential mindfulness practices with the latest tools and techniques of neuroscience and psychology. Courses typically include:

  • Mindfulness meditation practices
  • Gentle stretching and movement
  • Group dialogue and discussion
  • Individually tailored instruction
  • Home assignments
Prices vary between different providers.

To find a local MBSR course, search “MBSR Course + [your location]” on Google.
 

Apps

Insight Timer
“Join millions learning to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. Guided meditations and talks led by the world’s top mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and meditation teachers from Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth and the University of Oxford. Music tracks from world-renowned artists.

With 10+ new free guided meditations added daily, more meditation is practiced on Insight Timer than anywhere else. Great for both beginners and experienced practitioners.

Free features include:

  • Thousands of guided meditations
  • Select by time for short meditations when on the go, helping you to build a simple daily habit
  • Thousands of music tracks and ambient sounds to calm the mind, focus, sleep better and relax
  • The world's most popular meditation Timer
  • Follow your favourite teachers
  • Thousands of discussion groups and community features
  • Stats and milestones for tracking your progress

Featured meditation teachers on Insight Timer include:

  • Mark Williams- Emeritus Professor at Oxford University
  • Tara Brach - Ph.D, founder of Insight Meditation Community of Washington
  • Sam Harris - Stanford; author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host

iTunes link Google Play link
Calm
“Calm is the #1 app for mindfulness and meditation to bring more clarity, joy and peace to your daily life. Start your journey to a calmer mind with the app that’s trusted by millions and featured in the New York Times.

Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced meditators and gurus.

Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule. Topics include:

  • Calming Anxiety
  • Managing Stress
  • Deep Sleep
  • Focus and Concentration
  • Happiness
  • Gratitude
  • Self-Esteem
  • Body Scan
  • Loving-Kindness
  • Forgiveness

iTunes link Google Play link
 

Top Recommended Reads

Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman
"Mindfulness reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that can be incorporated into daily life to help break the cycle of unhappiness, stress, anxiety and mental exhaustion and promote genuine joie de vivre. It's the kind of happiness that gets into your bones. It seeps into everything you do and helps you meet the worst that life can throw at you with new courage.

The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness meditation which takes just a few minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed. MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and it is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Clinical Excellence - in other words, it works.

More importantly, it also works for people who are not depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world. Mindfulness focuses on promoting joy and peace rather than banishing unhappiness. It's precisely focused to help ordinary people boost their happiness and confidence levels whilst also reducing anxiety, stress and irritability."

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Bliss More by Light Watkins
"From one of America's top meditation teachers comes a revolutionarily simple approach to everyday practice—especially if you don't think you have the time or the patience.

Imagine you're sitting on a cushion with your legs crossed, ready to tap into unlimited joy. There's just one problem: You can't get comfortable (let alone still), and your head is full of way too many thoughts.

The problem is not with meditation, or you, though—the issue may be with your approach.

When properly understood and practiced, meditation should feel easy, calming, and comfortable. In Bliss More, maverick instructor Light Watkins provides the tools for making it E.A.S.Y. (Embrace, Accept, Surrender, Yield), dispels the biggest myths and misunderstandings, and shares real-world tips and straight talk for hacking into this ancient practice. The result: a happier and healthier you, inside and out. Watkins also shares candid testimonials from people whose lives have been enriched through his method, and extensive resources for transforming a daily chore into an enjoyable activity. Even the biggest skeptic will look forward to sitting for meditation every day.

Whether you're a novice or experienced practitioner, Bliss More will shed light on the path to a clearer mind, better sleep, and more bliss in everyday life."

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bliss more by light watkins
I Am Here Now: A creative mindfulness guide and journal by The Mindfulness Project
"An essential guide to mindfulness, filled with tools and practices that can enhance our well-being." - Arianna Huffington

I am here now will inspire you to explore your world with greater curiosity and find moments of mindfulness in everyday life while unleashing your creativity along the way.

Be here now with exercises to challenge your powers of observation, investigation and cultivation and bring new awareness to your senses, thoughts and emotions. Practise meditation with the I am here now audio track, guided by internationally renowned mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. Use the field notes pages to record your findings and capture your insights.

"Mindfulness is a simple and very powerful practice of training our attention. It’s simple in that it’s really just about paying attention to what’s happening here and now (i.e. sensations, thoughts, and emotions) in a non-judgemental way. It’s powerful because it can interrupt the habit of getting lost in thoughts, mostly about the future or past, which often generates more stress on top of the real pressures of everyday life." - The Mindfulness Project

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i am here now journal
 

Podcasts

The Mindful Kind
"The Mindful Kind, hosted by Rachael Kable, shares exciting insights into mindfulness journeys and provides listeners with simple and effective practices to incorporate into their own lives. Being mindful can be a fun and interesting journey and has amazing potential to increase general wellbeing, from managing stress to improving sleep quality. With The Mindful Kind, you will have weekly access to new ideas, personal experiences and practical mindfulness exercises." Head to Rachel’s website for written articles.

We recommend:

Episode 32: How Mindfulness Changed My Mindset

Episode 17: Mindfulness in the Real World

Episode 17: Mindfulness in the Workplace

Episode 1: All About Mindfulness

Episode 129: Mindfulness for Stress Prevention

Episode 26: Breaking Habits with Mindfulness

Episode 116: 3 Key Tips to a Stronger Mindfulness Practice

Episode 70: Meaningful Mindfulness Routine

Episode 28: 10 Quirky Mindfulness Practices


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Websites

Jim Hopper's Online Guide to Cultivaing Mindfulness - Jim Hopper is an expert in trauma who trains and consults on how meditation and other contemplative practices can transform the brain to bring healing. Head to his website to read his free comprehensive online guide to cultivating mindfulness.

Mindful - a mission-driven non-profit, Mindful are dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting anyone who wants to explore mindfulness. Head to their website for personal stories, news-you-can-use, practical advice, and insights on mindfulness.

Zen Habits – with over a million readers, Zen Habits is about “finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness”. Author Leo Babauta is an expert by experience, having cultivated a regular meditation practise, exercise regime, healthy eating habits, and much more.

Palouse Mindfulness – a free online eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) course, created by a certified MBSR instructor. Includes access to an online student community.

Tara Brach – Tara Brach is a meditation teacher, author and psychotherapist. Her website features dozens of guided meditations and talks

Jack Kornfield – Jack Kornfield is an author and Buddhist practitioner. Visit his website for meditations, articles, podcast episodes, and videos.

 

Magazines

Breathe
Breathe magazine features 5 sections: wellbeing, living, mindfulness, creativity, and escape. Breathe magazine encourages you “make more time for yourself,” and includes beautiful illustrations, craft projects, and inspiring features such as how to reduce stress, increase resilience, and cultivate happiness.


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In the Moment
In the Moment features practical creative projects, uplifting features, and stories to inspire a healthy body and mind. Key themes include mindfulness, creativity and wellbeing. Topics cover every aspect of our lives: friends, family, self, work, rest and play.

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Mindful
Mindful magazine focuses on mental wellbeing, drawing upon the lessons of doctors and health professionals and analysing the science that supports them. Mindful includes personal stories from contributors and the practical lessons that can be drawn from them.

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Mindfulness Print Reminders

mindfulness quote print
mindfulness print quote
 
 

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