What is ‘mindfulness’?

Mindfulness is a type of meditation (a focused relaxation); but it’s more than relaxation, it’s a purposeful awareness or a way of being.  It’s about doing one thing and knowing that you’re doing it.

Mindfulness practice doesn’t try to ‘do’ anything to you, or force you to believe anything.  To be ‘mindful’ basically means to pay attention to the moment; to focus on the here and now, and be more aware of how the here and now is affecting the ‘whole’ you.   This has real benefits as the present moment is often a lot less stressful than the fears and worries we have about the past or the future.

Why do CAMHS encourage children and young people to practice ‘mindfulness’?

We all have times when our thoughts and feelings get in the way and our worries take over, making it difficult to focus on what is really happening.  When this happens, it’s important to be able to find a place of calm and stillness within ourselves.  Mindfulness can help us to do this.  Mindfulness helps us to let go of the things that may be causing us to feel sad, frustrated or angry; and helps us improve our focus and concentration, allowing us to see more clearly the positive thoughts and choices that we have available.  Mindfulness rocks!

As exercise and healthy food help our bodies, mindfulness activities feed and exercise our hearts and minds.  1 – 10 minutes of ‘mindfulness’ a day can make a positive difference to your well-being by helping you to:

  • Step back and see or notice things more clearly

  • Better understand your emotions

  • Let go of negative and stressful feelings

  • Increase your attention and concentration

  • Have positive thoughts and make more positive choices

  • Improve your relationship with others

  • Improve your overall mental and physical health

The great thing is that learning mindfulness is simple.  It can be practiced by anyone, anytime, anywhere.

However, it is important to know that mindfulness is not about you putting up with painful or upsetting things that are happening.  If you’re having painful or upsetting worries or experiences then it is important that you ask for help.

Click below to visit the ‘Do I need help’? pages:

Visit the 5-12 Do I need help? page buttonVisit the 13-19 Do I need help? page button

So how does ‘mindfulness’ work?

There are lots of ways in which you can practice mindfulness.  Two easy ways to think about it are formal and informal practice.

Formal mindfulness basically means planning a set time in your day when you will practice mindfulness.  This could simply mean allowing yourself 10 minutes, in a quiet and comfortable place, where you will sit and focus on your breathing, just paying attention to the in and out flow of your long deep breaths, and the feelings and sensations that this brings.  Sometimes you may notice that you’re distracted by other thoughts or worries, that’s ok; notice that they are there, then turn you focus back to your breathing.  (Using a small alarm clock can help you to make full use of your time and lets you keep your focus on your breathing activity).

Informal mindfulness simply means to be mindful in your regular daily activities.  This could be anything from walking to the shops, eating your dinner or getting a shower.  It basically means, being aware of what you’re actually experiencing and how the experience affects you.  Being truly aware of the experience means to make full use of your five senses, in noticing the smells, sounds, sights, tastes and the physical sensations.  You may need to slow down your breathing, to encourage you to slow down the pace of your experience, allowing you to truly notice what’s happening.  As with formal mindfulness, you may sometimes notice that you are distracted by other thoughts or worries, that’s ok; notice that they are there, then turn you focus back to your experiences (your senses).