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Mindfulness Practice [Top Tips]

What is Mindfulness?

Whether it is a professional athlete; a rock star, a Mum in her fitness gear or the chilled-out guy who is cultivating an organic veggie patch; everybody seems to be practising mindfulness.  It is not just for Zen Buddhists and yogi masters, and whilst mindfulness is a type of meditation, you don’t need to be an expert to incorporate the principles into your life. 

The reason why so many people are doing it is because it has some solid research to prove its effectiveness as an adjunct to your lifestyle or as part of many mental health interventions. But how do you do mindfulness practice?

I describe mindfulness as: 

A learned way of intentionally noticing without judgement, in the present moment, what is happening for you and around you. Mindfulness is simply about being mindful of what you’re thinking and deciding where you choose to focus your attention.

Mindfulness Practice

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) founder Steven Hayes suggests that a major basis of human suffering is the attempt to avoid or control unwanted thoughts and feelings, whereas mindful acceptance involves an active attempt to embrace one’s self and one’s experience, including unwanted states, in the here-and-now, without judgment. 

It does take practice, but the good news is that you can start to incorporate it into your life in five-minute segments and begin to cultivate the practice of being presently focused on whatever task you are undertaking. You can learn it on-the-go in short spurts, and as you become more practised your brain recognises the habit you are forming. 

You can then call on it in times of stress and your brain recognises “Oh, so we’re doing this again” and re-focusses on this gentle benign type of calm state and settles itself down. In neuroscience, we call that down-regulation of the amygdala – the region in the brain in charge of reactive stress responses such as fight/flight (hyperarousal) and freeze/flop (hypo arousal).


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [CBT]: A Modern Neuroscience Approach

Mindful Eating Recommendations


Getting Started – How to practice mindfulness

I suggest some mindfulness apps on your phone that have five-minute exercises like noticing your breathing; an object meditation; 5 senses exercise; letting go of thoughts through visualisations etc.  Some apps have a 30 -day program of 5-minute exercises to introduce you to mindfulness practice without becoming overwhelmed or starting too big and feeling like it is too hard. It’s a good idea to download and try a few.

As you get better at it, the specific practice becomes habitual and you can re-centre and ground yourself when you need it.  Over time you can learn to transition specific focus exercises into a mindful way of being through what I call “Life Flow Mindfulness”.  This simply is moving through life and noticing all the good stuff instead of speeding through and missing it or anxiously being hypervigilant stealing your capacity for moments of peace and joy. The expression “stop and smell the roses” has some wonderful wisdom.

Go to my handout section to access 5 senses-specific mindfulness activities and view some examples of Life Flow Mindfulness here.

Mindfulness on a practical level can help you to stay calm when you’re stuck in traffic; be present in a conversation with a loved one; interact with and enjoy what was previously viewed as just another task (e.g. cooking dinner), or focusing before an exam or important meeting. Being fully present in the moment creates mindfulness no matter what you are doing. 


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To make an appointment with Brisbane counselor Sara Martin, call 0413 742 076 or email me at



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