Mindfulness and meditation have both been shown to have physical and mental health benefits, but many people get confused between the two terms and practices. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, who has studied mindfulness for more than 35 years, suggests that practicing mindfulness is a form of meditation.
Mindfulness allows us to step away from the constant round-and-round of thoughts. It helps us notice if we are heading toward an unhealthy path of thoughts, and if so, it helps us to let go and change directions.
The best way to deal with excessive thinking is to notice it, to listen to the mind. Listening is much more effective than trying to stop it or cut it off. When we listen there is a different mode employed in the heart. We can rest in the awareness of the thought and extend compassion towards ourselves if the thought makes us uncomfortable.
This page includes a variety of mindfulness and meditation tracks, each with individual descriptions. We recommend practicing them if you find you have a busy or overwhelmed mind.
Mindfulness takes practice, so do not be put off if you find any of the guides difficult. If you find any of them hard to follow, you may still be able to have ten minutes of stillness each day that is just for you.
Meditation Body Scan (9 minutes)
This meditation starts by introducing calm breathing and then moves on to a body scan. Body scan meditations invite you to move your focus of attention around the body, being curious about your experience and observing any sensations that you become aware of.
Safe Place Imagery (10 minutes)
There is a lot evidence to suggest that engaging in therapeutic imagery exercises can have positive effects on emotional wellbeing. This exercise will walk you through an imagery exercise that helps you create and explore a safe place for you – somewhere you can return to at any point in time.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (20 minutes)
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them to create awareness of tension and relaxation. It is termed progressive because it proceeds through all major muscle groups, relaxing them one at a time, and eventually leads to total muscle relaxation. This exercise can help relax you and is therefore a great exercise to do before going to bed.
NOTE: If you have any injuries or pains in your body it is recommended that you do not tense those parts of the body when they are introduced in the guide.
Mindfulness Bodyscan (13 minutes)
A mindfulness audio exercise that helps you nourish your body and mind with some space to be as you are. This is very similar to the Body Scan Meditation at the top of the page, but is a slightly longer version of the exercise.
Mindful Breathing Short (6 minutes)
The primary goal of mindful breathing is simply a calm, non-judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. This is a short guide and therefore well suited to beginners.
Counting Meditation (9 minutes)
This meditation uses the breath as an object of concentration. By focusing on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. This meditation uses our breath as an anchor to our concentration to help bring us back to the present moment. It is a way to develop mindfulness. The mindfulness of breathing is a good antidote to restlessness and anxiety, and a good way to relax: concentration on the breath has a positive effect on your entire physical and mental state.
Lower Belly Meditation (9 minutes)
This is a unique type of meditation. It encourages us to lower our sense of consciousness away from our minds and hearts, and down into our bellies, which is the centre of our being. This meditation requires practice, and can be very effective for restless hearts and minds.
Guided Imagery – The Beach (9 minutes)
A mindfulness exercise which uses the imagery of being on a beach to help focus your attention and calm the mind.