Mindful or Mind Full?


“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment, and so help with pain, both physical and emotional (Kabat-Zinn, 2017).

In detail…

Mindfulness is nothing but living in the world of now. It is all about being more aware and awake in every few seconds of one’s life. One have to intentionally and consciously pay attention to the moments that is being happening.

The complete engagement in the moment is necessary, and no distractions have no role, if it is happening in the surrounding or within the person.

The attitude that have to keep for mindfulness are acceptance, curiosity, friendliness to the happenings and avoidance of habitual patterns of judgement and criticism.

Mindfulness is best thought of as a way of being rather than an activity in and of itself. It is proven that almost any activity can be carried out with mindful awareness.

The idea is originally associated with Buddhist psychology, the term “mindfulness” comes from the Sanskrit word “Smṛti,” which literally translates to “that which is remembered” (Williams, Leumann, & Cappeller, 2004).

From this, we can understand mindfulness as remembering to pay attention to our present moment experience (Shapiro & Carlson, 2009; Black, 2011).


Mindful awareness has three key features:

Purpose – Mindfulness involves, a person intentionally and purposefully directing his/her attention to anything rather than letting it wander.

Presence – Mindfulness involves being fully engaged with and attentive to the present moment. Any thoughts related to the past and future that arise are identified simply as thoughts occurring in the present.

Acceptance – Mindfulness includes being non-judgmental toward whatever arises in the present moment. This means that the sensations, thoughts, and emotions are not judged as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, instead they are simply noticed as “happening,” and observed until them eventually ends.


Formal Mindfulness – It is most often referred as meditation. It involves introspection, whereby one maintain their attention on an object or thought or whatever arises on the moment. This is otherwise called as choice less awareness.

Informal Mindfulness – This involves mindful attention in everyday life. E.g.: – mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful drawing.

Non-meditation based Mindfulness – These are the set of exercises used in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.


In case of practicing mindfulness, learning how to be mindful is only the starting of slowly melting an iceberg. This practice is all about familiarizing the mindful practice and how it feels like exactly. It also involves remembering and to maintain mindful awareness.

This means that, if any activity is wanted to be turned out into mindful and maintain it mindful, one must follow the following basic components.

1. Direct involvement of one of the five senses – Focusing on one of the senses helps one maintain in the present moment. It also provides one with the opportunity to separate the sensory experience from the thoughts one having about it.

2. An “anchor” – The anchor will work as the object of attention during mindfulness practice. For example, if a person is doing a mindful breathing, they should try to maintain a consistent awareness of the physical sensation
of their breath entering and leaving their body.

This means the whole path the air starting from nose, the air entering and exiting the nostrils, or even the sensation of the lungs expanding and contracting. The sound of bell, or the taste and texture of food are another examples. One can experiment mindfulness in their any daily life activity.

3. Returning to the anchor – This is where the strength of mindfulness practice comes from. There are chances that one will only be able to remain focused on their anchor for few moments before becoming distracted. This is okay and to be expected.

If the person realize, they have lost their focus, then gently refocus their attention on anchor. It take time and practice to become settled into the calmness and the practitioner themselves can find that, they are able to focus for longer periods.

On the first try, the chances of drifting from anchor is very high and to start daydreaming. Eventually the person must be able to notice the distractions as they arise. By noticing the distractions, one can easily be able to let it pass, instead of lured away from the anchor.


Three minutes of mindfulness

  • First minute – Try to simply focus on the thoughts and feelings as it occurring.
  • Second minute – Along with thoughts and feelings, awareness of physical sensation should be added.
  • Third minute – Final minute includes thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and the space around the person. All the awareness should be focused of these three aspects.

Mindful Eating – This involves paying attention to the taste, sight and textures
of the food one eat. Example:- Raisin ( The raisin held in the palm, it is looked,
examined, felt, smelled, put it in the mouth, felt using tongue and noticing
every aspect of it.

Mindful moving, walking or running – Observe the feeling of the moving body.
Notice the breeze against the skin, the feeling of feet or hands against
different textures on the ground or nearby surfaces, and the different smells in
the surrounding.

Body scan – The person move his/her attention slowly through different parts
of the body, starting from the top of the head moving all the way down to the
end of the toes. One could focus on feelings of warmth, tension, tingling or
relaxation of different parts of their body.

Mindful colouring and drawing – Focus on the colours and the sensation of the
pencil against the paper, rather than trying to draw something in particular.

Mindful meditation – This involves sitting quietly and focusing on the
breathing, thoughts, sensations in the body and the things one can hear
around them. If the mind starts wandering, try to bring the focus back to the
present moment.

Visualization– Take a few deep breath and maintain the mind calm and bring it
into the present moment. Then start to visualise a unique place/space in
which one never been before. The place should bring peace to the mind and it
should resemble something familiar.


1. Mindfulness based stress reduction (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). The first is the mindfulness based intervention. MBSR aims to help people to develop an ongoing meditation practice.

2. Dialectical behaviour therapy (Linehan, 1993). This therapy helps to improve interpersonal skills and decrease self-destructive behaviour. This is usually used in people diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder.

3. Mindfulness based eating and awareness training (Kristeller & Hallet, 1999). This is an extension of MBSR and MBCT designed for people with eating disorder. This process will reverse the lack of awareness of bodily and internal states that has been commonly observed among people with eating disorders.

4. Acceptance and commitment therapy (Hayes et al, 1999). This will conduct based on the radical behavioural analysis of patient’s difficulties.

5. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (Segal et al, 2002). Developed as a treatment approach to reduce relapse and recurrence of depression patients.


American Psychological Association noted few empirically supported benefits
of mindfulness. It include the following (Davis & Hayes, 2011):

Psychological Benefits

Increased awareness of one’s mind, significantly reduced stress, anxiety, and
negative emotions, increased control over ruminative thinking (a major c and
symptom of depression and anxiety), increased mental flexibility and focus,
more working memory, decreased distracting thoughts, decreased emotional
reactivity, increased capacity for intentional, responsive behaviours, increased
empathy, compassion, and conscientiousness of other’s emotions.

Enhanced immune system functioning, increased brain density and neural
integration in areas responsible for positive emotions, self-regulation, and
long-term planning, lowered blood pressure, lowered levels of blood cortisol (a major stress hormone) & greater resistance to stress-related illnesses such as
heart disease.

Spiritual Benefits

Increased self-insight and self-acceptance, increased sense of morality, intuition, and courage to change, increased acceptance of others, increased self-discipline, increased compassion and empathy or increased control over automatic behaviors.


Mindfulness can be used to treat various mental illnesses such as common mental health problems as well as complex mental health problems.

Mindfulness practicing is be beneficial for managing some common mental illnesses like depression, stress and anxiety disorders. To treat these problems, researchers developed some structured mindfulness-based therapies. This will help the treatment to be more formal and practical.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended these treatments as evidence based in some cases. The application of mindfulness relays on complex mental health illnesses includes psychosis and bipolar disorder.

The effectiveness of mindfulness in treating these disorders are still in early phase of research and its working is still not clear for many while considering management of complex mental health problems.

Mindfulness can be used to treat psycho-physiological disorders such as muscle-tension disorders, gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders, sexual dysfunction and insomnia.

Considering personality disorders, Dialectical behaviour therapy can be used to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. Using acceptance and commitment therapy, one can treat eating disorders too.

A study conducted in drug-refractory epileptic patients and it is concluded that, complementary treatments such as ACT and yoga decrease seizure index and increase quality of life.

Mindfulness in sexual dysfunction/ Relationship satisfaction- Two studies examined the role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and in responses to relationship stress.

The first study concluded that, higher trait mindfulness predicted higher relationship satisfaction and greater capacity to respond constructively to relationship stress. Second study replicated the findings of first study is that, mindfulness was again shown to relate to relationship satisfaction.

NICE put forth a recommendation is that against using mindfulness-based techniques for social anxiety. The evidence shows that the techniques using may make the patient’s symptoms worse than better.

Therefore proper advice should be taken from qualified professional before using the techniques.

Mindfulness is not the complete cure. But it’s a part of complete cure. It won’t work every single time, but works most of the time.


The time and schedule of the exercise depends on the kind of mindfulness exercise one practices. If the exercise is simple, it can be practiced at anytime and anywhere.

Research implies that choosing outdoor for engaging senses should be beneficial than choosing indoor.

Considering more structured mindfulness exercises such as body scan meditation or sitting meditation, a quiet and calm place without any distraction or interruptions is advisable.

So one can set a time favorable to that. Early morning, before beginning the daily routine is the best to do mindfulness exercises.

The exercise can be done everyday for six months. It felt uneasy during former days and over time it becomes effortless and the exercises will become the part of one’s daily routine.




written by

Dr. Aardra Madhusoodanan Nair

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