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Mindfulness; awareness of present experience and being aware of your thinking can change your life.
Awareness of thoughts and environment helps anchor you in the present moment which in turn also helps you consider the bigger picture – things going on outside of your own thinking and experiences. A great experiment is to observe an object whilst focusing your attention entirely on your breathing.
You might also call it noting or noticing, for example, to notice when you pick up a cup that you can feel the cup, noticing the liquid as you drink and recognising the temporary nature (transience) of all of it. A further useful exercise is to sit in your garden or in nature or go for a walk in the country and focus entirely on your surroundings. I hope you enjoy viewing my Mind Maps – there are hundreds more planned here at the Mind Map Inspiration Blog plus ongoing creativity and drawing tips. Also available: E-Books designed to help you create stylish and artistic mind maps of your own.
If you know someone who could benefit from this post and others here at the Mind Map Inspiration Blog please share with them. Paul, may I use your mindfulness mind map image in a powerpoint presentation for mindfulness?
Kildare Psychotherapy & Counselling have run mindfulness classes for a number of years for groups and private one to one sessions. If you would like to discuss how we can help you, your company or your group, please contact us.
Mindfulness involves bringing our attention to our current experience through practices like meditation.
While we can’t always change the things around us, we can change our perception of those things.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Six Ways To Make Your Day More Mindful This is a lovely blog from The Mindfulness Project in London about bringing mindfulness into everyday life, the original blog can be found here.
Why Mindfulness is a Critical Tool for Living with MS I wrote this blog over a year ago, and I thought I’d refresh it and give it another run out. People sacrifice time and health for money and then later loose the money due to poor health. Most of us live our lives on a kind of ‘automatic pilot’ rushing around without fully experiencing what is happening. When we are mindful, we are more awake and alive to our lives rather than operating from a sort of ‘automatic pilot’ in which we can be cut off from our experience. I like to explain mindfulness as ‘sitting on the riverbank’ – all our thoughts, emotions and feelings are the river flowing by, and normally when something happens to trigger our emotions, we ‘dive’ into the river and ride the rapids. The training involves daily meditation – this helps us ‘settle’ our minds and allows us the space to respond rather than react. I have been practicing mindfulness since July 2010, and I noticed enormous benefits; I am much calmer, more relaxed and at peace with myself. Upon successful completion of the test (a score of 75 percent or higher), you can print your CE certificate immediately. Identify at least four benefits of the effect of mindfulness meditation on therapists and therapist trainees. Understand the relationship between therapists' mindfulness and psychotherapy outcome based on the research to date. Mindfulness has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity in the past decade, both in the popular press and in the psychotherapy literature. Advocates of mindfulness would have us believe that virtually every client and therapist would benefit from being more mindful. The term "mindfulness" has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, the practices that promote this awareness, a mode of processing information and a character trait.
Researchers theorize that mindfulness meditation promotes metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination via disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities and enhances attentional capacities through gains in working memory.
Those findings are consistent with evidence that mindfulness meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect. While many studies have been conducted on the benefits of applying mindfulness approaches to psychotherapy clients (for reviews, see Didonna, 2009 and Baer, 2006), research on the effects of mindfulness on psychotherapists is just beginning to emerge.
Similarly, in a study of Chinese college students, those students who were randomly assigned to participate in a mindfulness meditation intervention had lower depression and anxiety, as well as less fatigue, anger and stress-related cortisol compared to a control group (Tang et al., 2007).
While research points to the conclusion that mindfulness meditation offers numerous benefits to therapists and trainees, do these benefits translate to psychotherapy treatment outcomes? Overall, while the psychological and physical health benefits of mindfulness meditation are strongly supported by research, the ways in which therapists' mindfulness meditation practice and therapists' mindfulness translate to measureable outcomes in psychotherapy remain unclear. Future research holds tremendous potential for learning more about the neurophysiological processes of meditation and the benefits of long-term practice on the brain.
In addition, psychologists and others need to explore other ways to increase mindfulness in addition to meditation. Research is also needed on effective and practical means of teaching therapists mindfulness practices. Given the limited research thus far on empathy, compassion, decreased stress and reactivity, more research is needed on how mindfulness meditation practice affects these constructs and measurable counseling skills in both trainees and therapists. Shapiro and Carlson (2009) have suggested that mindfulness meditation can also serve psychologists as a means of self-care to prevent burnout.
In conclusion, mindfulness has the potential to facilitate trainee and therapists' development, as well as affect change mechanisms known to contribute to successful psychotherapy. Mindfulness is becoming increasingly recognized in Western psychology as an effective means of enhancing one’s sense of fulfilment, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and decrease stress and destructive emotive, cognitive and behavioural processes. An ancient practice which can be found in a vast range of Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga, the art of mindfulness can be mastered through implementation of conscious living. Involving the act of being completely aware, mindfulness requires you to focus all of your sensory awareness solely on the act that you are doing. According to Vietnamese-born Buddhist Monk and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, in his 2007 talk “Be Free Where You Are” at the Maryland Correctional Institute, many people live their entire life in a “state of distraction” where their bodies may be in one place, but their mind is somewhere entirely different – whether that be in the past or future. Getting caught up in one’s worries, despair, work, projects, regrets of the past and or fears of the future, prevents a person from being free.
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis enables a person to “transform their lives and nourish their compassion and forgiveness” (Nhat Hahn). In order to live a mindful way of life, make sure you incorporate peace, silence and nature in your everyday routine. Miya Yamanouchi is an empowerment counsellor with specialist sexual health training who has extensive experience assisting men and women across Australia to discover and embrace their authentic selves. It takes practice and daily observation to notice your thoughts and environment yet no time at all to explore and experiment.
This encourages thoughtless awareness – observing the object without thought, labels or judgments.
Not being physically aware (or mindful) of environment can lead to tripping on the stairs or spilling drinks and the like. Watch the wind, watch nature, birds, animals, enhance your senses; simply notice where you are and as a consequence the appreciation is greater.

Mindfulness popularity has exploded over the past number of years for a good reason – it works!
We have also run classes for therapists, social workers and others in the mental health field as part of their CPD (Continued Professional Development) training. It is awareness of our surroundings, thoughts, physical bodies, emotional states and responding non-judgementally to them at any given moment. There are times when we feel anger, anxiety, grief, embarrassment, stress, remorse or other unpleasant emotions.
Eating is a great way to practise mindfulness, as it is something that we all do several times each day.
And the hardest part of being mindful tends to be around being able to be present without judgement or preference. It also involves training in having a kind curiosity in what triggers us, so that we can learn how to stay on the riverbank. This feature will provide you with updates on critical developments in psychology, drawn from peer-reviewed literature and written by leading psychology experts. The practice has moved from a largely obscure Buddhist concept founded about 2,600 years ago to a mainstream psychotherapy construct today.
Among its theorized benefits are self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one's self with kindness, acceptance and compassion. This article offers an overview of the research on mindfulness and discusses its implications for practice, research and training. To be consistent with most of the research reviewed in this article, we define mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment. In one study, participants randomly assigned to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group were compared with controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety and psychopathology, and on neural reactivity as measured by fMRI after watching sad films (Farb et al., 2010). Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness, research finds.
Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants' ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information.
Research also supports the notion that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility. Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a partner. Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area. Empirical literature demonstrates that including mindfulness interventions in psychotherapy training may help therapists develop skills that make them more effective.
Research found that premedical and medical students reported less anxiety and depressive symptoms after participating in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training compared with a waiting list control group (Shapiro et al., 1998). Using qualitative and quantitative measures, nursing students reported better quality of life and a significant decrease in negative psychological symptoms following exposure to mindfulness-based stress reduction training (Bruce, Young, Turner, Vander Wal, & Linden, 2002).
To date, only one study has investigated the relationship between mindfulness and counseling self-efficacy.
In a study conducted in Germany, randomly assigned counselor trainees who practiced Zen meditation for nine weeks reported higher self-awareness compared with nonmeditating counselor trainees (Grepmair et al., 2007). Other research suggests that no relationship exists between therapist mindfulness and therapy outcome (Stratton, 2006).
It could be that "more mindful" people are likely to score lower on self-reports of mindfulness because they are more accurately able to describe their "mindlessness." Conversely, people who are less mindful may not realize it and therefore may be inclined to rate themselves higher on such measures.
Future research is needed to examine the relations between therapists' mindfulness, therapists' regular mindfulness meditation practice and common factors known to contribute to successful treatment outcomes.
Research on neuroplasticity may help explain the relationships among length and quality of meditation practice, developmental stages of meditators and psychotherapy outcomes. Given that current research does not indicate that therapists' self-reported mindfulness enhances client outcomes, better measures of mindfulness may need to be developed or different research designs that do not rely on self-report measures need to be used.
Future research could investigate ways mindfulness practices and mindfulness meditation could be integrated into trainees' practicum and clinical supervision. For example, how does mindfulness meditation practice affect empathy and compassion for midcareer or late-career therapists who are experienced at mindfulness? Future research is needed on not only how the practice of mindfulness meditation helps facilitate trainee development and psychotherapy processes, but also how it can help therapists prevent burnout and other detrimental outcomes of work-related stress.
The field of psychology could benefit from future research examining cause and effect relationships in addition to mediational models in order to better understand the benefits of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation practice.
Davis, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Mass.
Hayes, PhD, is a professor of counseling psychology at the Pennsylvania State University department of educational psychology, counseling and special education. A Practice Review of Psychotherapy-Related Research," from the APA journal Psychotherapy (Vol. Mindfulness is a type of energy which helps us to become aware of what is going on both around us and within ourselves. Mindfulness is about awakening oneself, connecting with oneself, and appreciating the fullness of each and every moment. One can practice mindfulness through breathing exercises and meditation, physical movement and exercise such as walking, dancing and stretching, artistic expression such as painting, drawing or singing, and even eating. They can be so consumed in this state of distraction of the past or the future, that they are incapable of being present in the here and now where life is actually available. Freedom is something that we need to cultivate for ourselves, within ourselves, and is the key to happiness. Nhat Hanh warns that without mindfulness in one’s everyday life, anger and despair is fed by observing or absorbing things in our surroundings that are “highly toxic” .
A tricky exercise at first because the mind wants to analyse the object yet by focusing on your breathing you can sense an acceptance of the object without labels. Not being aware (or mindful) of your thinking can lead to being dragged away from the present moment by past or future thinking.
There are three components involved in mindfulness, they are attention, intention and attitude. Meditation is an active experience where we mindfully bring our focused attention to a particular object, such as the breath. The researchers found that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression and somatic distress compared with the control group. A 2010 study by Jha et al., for example, documented the benefits of mindfulness meditation among a military group who participated in an eight-week mindfulness training, a nonmeditating military group and a group of nonmeditating civilians. The researchers compared a group of experienced mindfulness meditators with a control group that had no meditation experience. In a study of people who had anywhere from one month to 29 years of mindfulness meditation practice, researchers found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared with people who saw the pictures but did not meditate (Ortner et al., 2007). One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Siegel, 2007a). One study, for example, looked at premedical and medical students who participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training.

The control group evidenced similar gains after exposure to mindfulness-based stress reduction training.
Evidence from a study of counselor trainees exposed to interpersonal mindfulness training suggests that such interventions can foster emotional intelligence and social connectedness, and reduce stress and anxiety (Cohen & Miller, 2009). Another study assessed changes in symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among New Orleans mental health workers following an eight-week meditation intervention that began 10 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Greason and Cashwell (2009) found that counseling self-efficacy was significantly predicted by self-reported mindfulness among masters-level interns and doctoral counseling students. But more important, after nine weeks of treatment, clients of trainees who meditated displayed greater reductions in overall symptoms, faster rates of change, scored higher on measures of well-being and perceived their treatment to be more effective than clients of nonmeditating trainees. More research is needed to better understand how the benefits of meditation practice accumulate over time.
Garland and Gaylord (2009) have proposed that the next generation of mindfulness research encompass four domains: 1. Contrary to the common misconception that mindfulness is meditation, mindfulness in fact refers to a mental state of complete awareness, focus and openness, and is achieved through being entirely present in the here and now. This requires a person to purposefully place their undivided attention on the present moment in an open, flexible and non-judgmental way.
Carefully select the environments that you surround yourself with, whether that is in your work, social or personal life. As you read, become aware of your environment and how your senses and your body are relating to the space around you. Observation of breath reduces your thoughts and helps you stop thinking which encourages relaxation and also aids meditation. I believe there is something past mindfulness and for lack of a better name, mindlessness would be more accurate.
While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them. In addition, the fMRI data indicated that the mindfulness group had less neural reactivity when they were exposed to the films than the control group, and they displayed distinctly different neural responses while watching the films than they did before their mindfulness training. They found that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness. It found that the mindfulness group had significantly higher self-reported empathy than a control group (Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998). Counselors in training who have participated in similar mindfulness-based interventions have reported significant increases in self-awareness, insights about their professional identity (Birnbaum, 2008) and overall wellness (Rybak & Russell-Chapin, 1998). Similarly, following such training, therapist trainees have reported decreased stress, rumination and negative affect (Shapiro et al., 2007). Although changes in depression symptoms were not found, PTSD and anxiety symptoms significantly decreased after the intervention (Waelde et al., 2008). In that study, attention mediated the relationship between mindfulness and self-efficacy, suggesting that mindfulness may contribute to the development of beneficial attentional processes that aid psychotherapists in training (Greason & Cashwell, 2009).
Contrary to expectation, therapist mindfulness was inversely correlated with client outcome.
Future research questions could include: Does therapists' practice of mindfulness meditation in clinical supervision with their supervisees affect the supervisory alliance or relational skills of supervisees? By creating freedom within yourself, you will then be able to assist the people around you to do the same.
Nhat Hanh recommends refraining from ingesting negativity, and advises to instead, “choose to be in touch with what is wonderful, refreshing and healing within yourself and around you”. Miya is a published author with Penguin Group, and has also had her online articles published across the globe including The Americas, Europe, Asia, and all the way to West Africa. Notice also any thoughts you might have about what you are reading and other thoughts unrelated to these words.
This exercise helps you tune in effortlessly to the present experience; which is being mindful. After the retreat, the meditation group had significantly higher self-reported mindfulness and a decreased negative affect compared with a control group. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues. The researchers found that the nonmeditating military group had decreased working memory capacity over time, whereas working memory capacity among nonmeditating civilians was stable across time.
Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009). In 2006, a qualitative study of therapists who were experienced meditators found that they believed that mindfulness meditation helped develop empathy toward clients (Aiken, 2006). Self-compassion fully mediated the relationship between perspective taking and mindfulness. In addition, when compared with a control group, mindfulness-based stress reduction training has been shown to decrease total mood disturbance, including stress, anxiety and fatigue in medical students (Rosenzweig, Reibel, Greeson, Brainard, & Hojat, 2003). The findings suggest that meditation may serve a buffering role for mental health workers in the wake of a disaster. Other potential benefits of mindfulness include increased patience, intentionality, gratitude and body awareness (Rothaupt & Morgan, 2007).
Does practicing formal mindfulness meditation as a group in practicum or internship aid in group cohesion, self-care, relational skills or measurable common factors that contribute to successful psychotherapy? Nhat Hahn implores people to free themselves from this state of distraction through the act of mindfulness.
By immersing yourself in positive, harmonious activities in a peaceful setting, mastering the art of mindfulness will prove an effortless practice.
Within the meditating military group, however, working memory capacity increased with meditation practice. Along similar lines, Wang (2007) found that therapists who were experienced mindfulness meditators scored higher on measures of self-reported empathy than therapists who did not meditate.
Meditation is the “formal” practice of mindfulness, while “informal” mindfulness is the application to our everyday lives.
In addition, the meditators had significantly better working memory capacity and were better able to sustain attention during a performance task compared with the control group. In addition, meditation practice was directly related to self-reported positive affect and inversely related to self-reported negative affect. Meditation can be thought of as the well we draw from with mindfulness being the bucket we dip into it.
Research along these lines is likely to enhance our understanding of mindfulness and its potential benefits to psychotherapy.
By watching our thoughts through meditation we can, in essence, change our destiny. Loving kindness meditation involves generating compassion, it has been found to improve physical health, reduce pain, anger and psychological distress.

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