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What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of using our senses to bring us into the present moment. It involves getting in touch with our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment, without self-judgment or without spending time and energy trying to interpret them. To be mindful is to be in the NOW.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

Mindfulness masterfully calms the central nervous system and helps settle our fight, flight, or freeze response. Mindfulness practices have also has been proven to reduce symptoms of a number of mental health struggles, including depression, anxiety, and more. It does so by creating space from your thoughts and emotions, so you are not so affected by them. In time this leads to much greater distress tolerance and emotional regulation.

Mindfulness Techniques

Three of the most helpful mindfulness techniques are:

  1. Deep breathing: Our breath is the medicine that soothes us and grounds us the most. Simply take slow deep inhales and exhales (through your nose) and bring your attention to your breath, noticing how it feels on the inhale and how it feels on the exhale. Another option is to inhale to the count of 4, hold for 2 seconds, and then exhale to the count of 4. Breathing will return you to your body and the present moment.
  2. Sensory awareness: This is the practice of getting in touch with your senses to bring you into the present moment. A good example of this is the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Take a few deep breaths and then ask yourself what are 5 things I see at this moment? What are 4 things I feel at this moment? What are 3 things I hear at this moment? What are 2 things I smell at this moment? What is 1 thing I taste at this moment?
  3. Develop an Observing Part: Observing our thoughts and feelings is a powerful way to not get so attached to them. Practice by recognizing and labeling the types of thoughts you have. Thoughts can be labeled as fear, judgment, remembering, etc. For example, if the thought “What if I’m not able to do it?” comes up, then label it Fear Thought and let it flow through you.

Helpful Mindfulness Resources

Here are suggestions for my top three resources related to Mindfulness:

  1. Dr. Jack Kornfield is a mindfulness teacher that provides a number of workshops, articles, and guided meditations.
  2. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction provides a free 8-week training in MBSR.
  3. offers a number of free resources including trainings, articles, and community building.


Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion (Washington, D.C.)10(1), 83–91.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you gothere you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, Hyperion.

Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review31(6), 1041–1056.

Nhất Hạnh, T (1987). The Miracle of Mindfulness : a Manual on Meditation. Boston :Beacon Press.