“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality.”
Jon Kabat Zin

Mindfulness is a way of becoming aware of what you are thinking, learning to observe your thoughts and developing tools to help you observe your thought process from a non judgmental stance.  At times we may be struggling emotionally and have no idea what the struggle is about, you might notice your mood is low or you feel agitated or anxious on edge full of self doubt.

Mindfulness is a way of opening up to the thoughts and feelings in the moment and noticing them and acknowledging what is in your mind.  Features of mindfulness are to pay attention on purpose and non-judgmentally.  To learn to recognise the internal dialogue that your mind engages in every day, and the impact that this dialogue can have on your mood and mental health.

Mindfulness can be practiced formally through meditation and informally through everyday life.

There is a lot of confusion around mindfulness, what it is and what it isn’t, it may be surprising to hear, but we all have the ability to connect with the present moment, we just all have different routes to do it. Some people might prefer formal sitting practice and some people might prefer mindful activity. Both are equally useful ways to be in the present moment. The only thing that will prevent us from being in the present moment is our mind and our thoughts.

Formal mindfulness

Formal mindfulness is taught over 6-8 week sessions. It covers how the human mind has evolved and why we as humans can struggle so much with our minds. Over the eight weeks you will learn to use different methods of meditation and will have opportunities to practice and develop mindfulness as a daily habit.

Learning formal meditation exercises will help to train your brain to be more resilient in the face of stress and adversity.

Meditation exercises are like Gym for the brain, in the same way we have to go to the gym three or four times a week if we want to be physically fit and strong. To build emotional resilience we will benefit from practicing some form of mindfulness every day whether this is formal sitting or just being aware of what we are thinking and feeling. By practicing this open awareness we will be able to be in the present moment, have more clarity, learn to be more accepting of what is happening, better focus, pay attention, and learn to let go of judgement of ourselves and judgement of others.

Formal mindfulness is not for everyone and that is OK, we can still learn to notice our mind and connect with the present moment.

Informal mindfulness

Many people are probably practicing informal mindfulness in some part of their daily life. This might be gardening, running, art or baking. All of these activities can be practiced mindfully and connect us with the present moment.

I have completed a chart to show some off the responses you might have the first time you practice mindfulness. It is completely normal to find the experience a bit strange as it is not something we are used to doing. However with practice you will train your mind to pay attention to these every day activities that we do without even noticing.  By doing so you might begin to notice how you really enjoy taking a shower or a bath. That washing up can be a good time to contemplate your day.

You might start to notice there is joy in these everyday activities and if you can find joy in them that you can find joy in other areas of your life too.

Proverb: When you eat, eat, when you sweep sweep etc


Informal mindfulness can be practiced in many ways below are some ideas. I have included an empty chart to print of and use.



It may seem strange to talk about breathing and how to breathe, we have all been breathing since the day we were born Right? How have we been breathing? Have we been taught to breathe correctly?

Most anxiety is linked to how we breathe, when we are feeling anxious we are in fight flight freeze mode and we are probably breathing shallowly in our chest. This shallow breathing can lead to feeling light headed or hyperventilating.

A large part of what you learn with mindfulness is how to be present by following your breath and using your breath as your anchor.  The more we notice our breathing and learn to be with it we will notice how our breathing pattern can change depending on how we are feeling and what is happening.

Lower stomach/diaphragm breathing is the opposite to shallow breathing as it will encourage you to take deeper breaths which will give oxygen to your body. The more oxygen you have the better you will feel.

You can try this by breathing in and counting to 3, hold the breath for 2 counts and then breathe our for 4. If your out breath is longer that your in breath it will trigger your parasympathetic nervous system or soothing system.

Three minute breathing space exercise

Many people have rushed and busy lives, we seem to rush from one thing to the next without stopping to experience life. The three minute breathing space teaches us to take the opportunity to do just this stop and experience life.

Close your eyes if you can.

Breathe through your nose (this is your anchor to the present moment)

  • What thoughts are here right now.
  • What images, try to see these thoughts as mental events just drifting through your mind.
  • Are you aware of any feelings, try to allow the feelings and acknowledge them with a friendly curiosity.
  • Now tune into how your body is feeling, is there any tension? If so where in your body do you feel the tension and breathe in to it.

Once you have become more aware of your internal sensations, return to noticing your breathing, try not to change your breathing pattern just let the breath breathe its self.

Focus your attention on the experience of your body breathing.

Now expand your attention to include your body and your facial expressions etc.

And allow whatever is there, these could be thoughts or images.

Often when we open up to our thoughts we start to see why we are feeling the way we are in that moment.

The key message is paying attention on purpose and in the present moment.

By opening up to the experience you are learning to accept it and by learning  to accept it you will find you do not struggle so hard to control.