More about mindfulness
Mindfulness is a 2500-year-old Buddhist meditation practice. Being mindful means having a greater awareness of your external surroundings (i.e. where you are), what you are doing and how you are feeling. It's a practice that focuses on tuning in to the 'here and now' and quietening thoughts that can sometimes make us feel as though we are functioning on autopilot.
We all have the ability to be more mindful, but often our modern, busy lives make it hard for us to make time for relaxation. When we think, we're often either dwelling on things we, or others, have done or said in the past, or we're thinking about the future (even if that's just thinking about what to have for lunch).
By practicing mindfulness techniques, we can all learn how to take better control of our thoughts and slow down to appreciate being in the present. This can be in small ways, such as stopping to notice spring bloom or interesting architecture you've walked past a dozen times but never fully noticed, or by being more aware of how we are feeling and accepting who we are.
Some people may worry that they don't have time for mindfulness or that mindfulness isn't for them. In fact, we're all born with an ability to practice mindfulness, but often, life's distractions can make it seem unachievable.
Mindfulness is often practiced through meditation techniques - but you don't need to go on a retreat, have a special ability or invest in expensive equipment or clothes to practice meditation. There are plenty of free apps and online videos that can teach you the basics of meditation. In its simplest form, meditation is about noticing your physical and emotional state and focusing on the movement of the breath in the body to achieve a quieter, calmer mind.
Although mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu teachings as the first step toward enlightenment, it now plays an important role in many therapeutic interventions. Studies have shown that mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can reduce anxiety, stress and depression. In addition to depression and other mood disorders, some research has found that mindfulness can help people to cope with pain and social isolation and rejection.
By being more present and having greater awareness, mindfulness can also help us to know ourselves better and enjoy noticing new things, either about other people or our environment.
The Calm app offers guided meditations, breathing programmes and ‘Sleep Stories’ to help you de-stress and clear your mind.
Meditainment uses established guided meditation and visualisation techniques, leading you on imaginative journeys to dreamlike destinations to explore and reflect on a range of wellbeing topics.
A clinically proven online mindfulness course approved by the NHS, Be Mindful helps you to manage your stress through mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
M4ALL has been set up by experienced mindfulness teachers from King's Health partners, including Dr Florian Ruths who features in the videos on this page, who provide free weekly guided meditation sessions.
These sessions have been made available to all key workers in health, education, social care and primary care settings, as well as local carers, patients and residents.
Headspace is a subscription based app that has over 500 meditations to help with various challenges in life. NHS staff have free access until 31 December 2022!