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Some frequently asked questions

about mindfulness and meditation:


What is mindfulness?

It is an alert state of awareness of being directly in the body rather than functioning in a 'doing' mode in our heads. This allows us to fully experience more of life as it's happening, in each present moment.

Mindfulness meditation can be practised sitting, lying, standing or in movement- usually in silence. Whilst 'meditating' the focus could be to pay more attention to our thoughts, or sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body. And then whenever we notice the mind wandering, we bring the attention back onto a chosen 'anchor'  which is used to ground us in the present moment. An anchor could be either the breath, the feet or hands, for example.

There are three key elements to learning mindfulness:

  1. Being aware
  2. Being non-judgemental
  3. Being non-reactive


Will mindfulness clear my mind of everything negative?

By practising mindfulness meditation we are not trying to 'clear our minds' or turn all our thoughts into positive ones. We are not even trying to relax- although this is a very welcomed side-effect!


On the contrary, by giving ourselves a regular amount of time and space to be in silence we eventually learn how to pay attention to all of our experiences internally and externally- whether they are comfortable, or not. And we try to do this with a sense of curiosity, self-kindness and patience; as we become more aware of thoughts just as they are- 'just passing thoughts', knowing there is a choice as to whether to believe into them or let them go.


I've tried mindfulness,

but it doesn't work?

Like any new form of exercise it takes regular practice and time to become 'fitter' in the body, likewise, meditation could be viewed as a type of attention 'fitness' training for the brain. With mindfulness meditation we have no set goals to achieve as such, nowhere to be nor anything to particularly strive for as an end result from practice.

However, by spending a length of time daily learning how to pay more attention to our mind's attention, where it wanders to (i.e. the past or the future), and any arising emotional or physical experiences in that moment, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral we eventually start to notice emotional and physical benefits to our health.

There is also growing research and evidence to show how mindfulness and meditation might  work through neuroscientific studies using brain scanning interventions (fMRI). Increasingly, evidence from these brain scans show changes in the grey matter of our brains, especially in the areas that are emotionally affected,  by stress for example. 

And further studies have shown evidence of changes to our 'telomeres' through regular meditation- the ends of our chromosomes that are linked to ageing. Mindfulness is believed to protect and possibly lengthen these telomeres, all indicated in slowing down the effects of ageing in the brain.




How long does it take to become 'mindful'?

What were you just thinking about before reading this?

What are your feet doing right now? Can you feel into in them...?

How are you sat in your chair or on your sofa?

Are your shoulders relaxed or tense...are you able to notice any breathing movements in your body?


If you're able to notice what's happening in just one of the questions above, then you've done it! You've become mindful! 

It only takes a few seconds to pay attention to your body or breathing in the present moment. The trick is to notice when your mind has wandered away (and where to), from your focus or 'anchor' of attention and then gently bring yourself back into this moment. 

And this moment...and the next one...😉


What are the benefits of practising mindfulness regularly?

  • helps to improve and regulate our mood
  • reduces unhelpful reactivity to stressors
  • can improve concentration and focus
  • can improve our sleep
  • helps to relieve stress and associated symptoms
  • increases resilience to life's difficulties
  • cultivates compassion for the self and others
  • can help regulate blood pressure 
  • can support managing ongoing health conditions  such as ADHD, asthma, cancer symptoms and chronic pain
  • improves our overall emotional and physical health & wellbeing


Do I need to be religious or believe in Buddhism to practise mindfulness? 

No! Anyone can learn to practice mindfulness whatever their belief system. 


It is now widely known in modern society that the origins of mindfulness and meditation come from the ancient tradition and education of Buddhism. Founded by Prince Siddartha Gautama- better known as The Buddha, approximately 2500 years ago, thereafter which he became ultimately enlightened by meditating continuously night and day for period of two weeks under a Bodhi Tree:


Nowadays, within secular healthcare settings especially, the underpinning knowledge to teaching and learning mindfulness is still taken from Buddhist psychological theories but does not include any of its spiritual or religious beliefs.


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