Posted on: 7 April, 2020

What is Mindfulness?

Whether or not you’ve come across the concept of ‘mindfulness’, what many fail to realise is that it is something innate within us. That is, we’re all born with the ability to live mindfully – it’s just a case of finding the key that unlocks this powerful state of mind.


Many of our modern behaviours and habits encourage us to live life at a fast pace. After all, we’re all trying to juggle a number of responsibilities in a seemingly short space of time. This can, unsurprisingly, lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.


Naturally, as humans, our thoughts can have a tendency to drift towards worries about future events. We might even dwell on the past without even thinking about it. However, it’s these habits that lead to a negative state of mind – by worrying about things we can’t change, we’re causing unnecessary stress. Being mindful of your mental health is therefore also something that we should consider.


Mindfulness, at its core, focuses primarily on living in the present. And through techniques that can be achieved as small lifestyle changes, we all have the ability to adopt this mindset.

Living in the present

Mindfulness encourages people to focus on the here and now. When adopting a meditative-like state, it becomes easier to accept intrusive thoughts, before letting them go. It’s important to acknowledge these thoughts first, though, before you can move on.

Mindfulness and meditation teach you the value of the present moment. As a society, our thoughts can tend to drift towards the future, with phrases like “I’ll be happy when…”, or “When … happens, then I’ll be happy”, being all too common. What many fail to realise, though, is that if you aren’t content at this present moment, then the happiness you’re searching for is unlikely to come.

You don’t have to meditate to be mindful, though. There are easy ways that you can focus on the present moment; these can include:

Becoming aware of your senses during an outdoor stroll. Notice what you can see, hear, smell and feel – from the texture of tree bark, to the feel of your clothes against your skin.

Mindful eating. So many of us fall into the habit of eating in front of the television, not really noticing the flavours we’re experiencing. Next time you eat a meal, try to enjoy it distraction-free whilst sitting at a table. Chances are, you’ll notice the flavours more and you’ll avoid overeating.

Concentrate on what you’re doing. Whatever it is you’re doing, whether that’s a project or reading a book, try to focus only on that task – and let other thoughts pass by. You’ll notice a vast improvement in your results and productivity levels.

Deep breathing. When you get the chance, take a few moments to breathe deeply – in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Try to adopt deep breathing techniques with everything you do – from cooking a meal, to taking an outdoor stroll. This can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, whilst offering a welcome boost in mood.

Take a few moments to check in. Try and remember to set aside a few moments each day to notice how you’re feeling. When we’re on autopilot, we can often become oblivious to feelings lying beneath the surface. Try to scan your body, noticing anywhere you feel tension.


Meditation, unlike mindfulness, is considered a practice of sorts, and does require time and patience. A mindful approach is taken with meditation, as it involves noticing how you’re feeling at that moment, whilst focusing on the breath. It’s allowing thoughts to come and go, whilst adopting visualisation techniques to bring abstract concepts to life.


Scientific studies have shown that those who meditate for a few minutes each day experience increased feelings of relaxation, as well as decreased blood pressure. It’s definitely worth trying if you haven’t already; and if you’re new to the practice, consider downloading the Headspace app for guided meditations.


Focusing on the present puts everything into perspective. You’ll think more clearly, approaching challenging situations and projects with a calm and composed demeanor.


If the concept of mindfulness seems a little intimidating initially, start with a simple task. Go for a walk around your local park, and focus all your attention on your surroundings. There’ll be plenty for you to notice, but really try to appreciate what’s around you at that moment. Pair that with deep breathing, and you’ll return home with a clearer state of mind and boosted mood.


Yoga, too, is an activity commonly associated with mindfulness and meditation, since it focuses on the connection between the mind and body. It’s a highly therapeutic practice, and like meditation, can be adapted to all levels of ability. 


To find out more, read our previous article about gentle yoga for body and mind strengthening.


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