What is Mindfulness?


Photo credit: Sam Schooler 


Mindfulness is a type of meditation which dates back many centuries but has become more popular recently. In a nutshell, mindfulness meditation involves taking some time to pay attention to our breathing and our thoughts.

In our webinar on 19th April led by Dr Mark Coulson, we talked about Mindfulness and Mindfulness practice. As part of the IENE6 project, we have produced a number of videos on mindfulness which you can use for practicing mindfulness meditation. These can be accessed here

Many people practice mindfulness as part of a guided meditation, either in a group with others, or by themselves. A common misconception is that meditation necessitates clearing the mind, but really it means being aware of our thoughts, acknowledging that thoughts are transient, and letting them pass. A useful analogy is to imagine that your thoughts are like clouds that pass by in the sky. It is normal to find that your mind wanders. For many people, mindfulness meditation can take a bit of getting used to, but it becomes easier with practice.

However, mindfulness does not need a formal guided meditation, and it does not need to be done  in a specific time or place. Rather, it can be a way of life. Often we go about our day in a state of ‘busyness’. Our lives are packed with commitments and tasks we need to do, and it’s easy to find ourselves running on a kind of autopilot, rushing from one thing to the next. Mindfulness is a way of being more present and having greater awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. This could be something as simple as paying attention to your breathing, noticing feelings or emotions, or even noticing things about your environment. You can be mindful by checking in with yourself and taking a few moments to reflect on your day, or even putting away your phone while you are with someone, and really listening to what they are saying. In this way you can be mindful anytime, anywhere: on your bus/train journey to work or even while doing the washing up!


The principles of mindfulness meditation as we know it today have been derived from religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, however you do not have to subscribe to a particular religious belief in order to be mindful. Mindfulness is also a compassionate state of being, and involves accepting things without trying to change them or judging ourselves harshly.

In the webinar we received many good suggestions of resources and smartphone apps that can be used for practicing mindfulness, including Headspace, Mind the bump(for use in pregnancy), Breathworks,  and Finding peace in a frantic world. Many of them are free, or have free sections. There are also many websites, YouTube videos and podcasts where you can find information about mindfulness. Try searching for the words ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’.

This website has a lot of free information and resources about Mindfulness, and some free clips of mindfulness meditations. A fun one to try is the chocolate meditation! There are many books which have been written on mindfulness and meditation by authors such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman. You may also be able to find several books on Mindfulness and meditation at your local library.

Please note: we do not recommend that you listen to meditation clips while driving or operating machinery.

Details of our next webinar:

Please feel free to join us for our next webinar which will be taking place this Thursday the 17th of May at 12pm (UK time). It will be on Compassion and culturally appropriate psychological support and is being led by Professor Rena Papadopoulos. It is free to attend the webinar, and you can join by clicking on this link: http://breeze.mdx.ac.uk/iene6webinar/

Further details are here: http://www.ienerefugeehub.eu/uploads/network/other/59-webinar-compassion.pdf

What is your experience of mindfulness? Have you ever tried it? What did you think? Feel free to tell us in the comments section below.

For many people, mindfulness is a way of finding peace. Where do you find your peace? 





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