Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings and mental health. It is becoming widely used in a range of contexts.
Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.
Mindfulness can be practiced by children, young people and adults. There are different ways to practice mindfulness. Group courses are run to practise mindfulness in person and there are online courses too where you can learn through self-directed practice at home. You don’t need to be religious or spiritual to practise mindfulness. It can help people with or without religious beliefs.
Mindfulness and mental health
Mindfulness is recommended as a treatment for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
The evidence for mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to affect how the brain works and even its structure. People undertaking mindfulness training have shown increased activity in the area of the brain associated with positive emotion – the pre-frontal cortex – which is generally less active in people who are depressed.
Many studies have shown changes in brain wave activity during meditation and researchers have found that areas of the brain linked to emotional regulation are larger in people who have meditated regularly for five years or more. The evidence for different types of mindfulness is said to be promising and research has grown in recent years.
Who can benefit?
Mindfulness can be useful for people from all different walks of life and the number of areas that mindfulness is being applied to is growing.
A pretty plant with bright blue flowers, Wood Forget-me-not can be found along woodland rides and edges, in ancient and wet woodlands, and sometimes in hedgerows and verges as an escaped garden variety. It flowers between April and June. Although Water Forget-me-not may have been the source of many early garden varieties of this popular plant, most are now forms of Wood Forget-me-not.
How to identify
Wood Forget-me-not has hairy stems and narrow, oval leaves. Clusters of five-petalled, azure-blue flowers, with white or orange centres, appear at the tops of the stems.
Widespread, but most common in Southern and Eastern England.
Towns and gardens
Did you know?
Wood Forget-me-not is an ideal plant for shady areas in the garden, near trees and hedges, providing good ground cover and early spring flowers.
How people can help
Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK’s gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard?