What is mindfulness? Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness centre 

"It's easy to stop noticing the world around us. It's also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living 'in our heads' – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour," he says.

An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.

Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.

It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives."

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness can help us find joy in things that we may take for granted (such as the sound of someone laughing or the smell of fresh air), but it also helps us to realise when we have become ‘trapped’ reliving past problems or pre-living future worries. As a result, there are many studies showing the positive benefits of mindfulness, including: 

  • decreased stress and anxiety,

  • improved health,

  • better sleep,

  • improved focus and awareness,

  • better problem solving,

  • improved impulse control,

  • increased compassion and kindness,

  • stronger relationships,

  • altruism,

  • and even higher life satisfaction.

How can I practise mindfulness? Mindfulness doesn’t have to be meditating for 30-minutes a day. There are many ways to include mindfulness into your day, including short pauses we can insert into our everyday life. Even spending ten seconds to take a deep breath and become aware of your senses again can help you bring yourself back into the present.