The What, Why and How of Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps by building the ability to remain present even when we are experiencing negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is simply about being present and in the moment with an attitude of openness, curiosity and acceptance. This means allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without the need to connect with or to judge them.

Mindfulness provides an alternative to getting hooked on difficult thoughts and feelings and ruminating about past problems or worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. When our minds wander they can bring up issues that are uncomfortable or trigger negative emotions so we become primed to react in ways that are inappropriate and unlike the person we want to be.

This is not to say that we should never reflect on the past, plan for the future or connect with an opinion, attitude or belief. However when this becomes habitual and interferes with our ability to connect in the moment we may need to consider an alternative approach.

Whilst mindfulness has been associated with relatively intense versions of meditation, scientific evidence is showing that some very simple mindfulness techniques and practices can also make a huge difference and bring benefits as we go about our day, both personally and at work.

Why Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been scientifically shown to improve focus, decision making, and interactions with others.  It is an alternative to being on auto-pilot allowing you to respond and take action which is consistent with the person you want to be.

Because our minds can ‘hook’ us on past experiences and possible future scenarios and we can become anxious and stressed about the things that we cannot change or things that may never happen. Mindfulness provides a way to unhook from unproductive and limiting thoughts and feelings so that we can fully engaged with the present moment.

Consider the following behaviours that can prevent full engagement with life both at work and at home:

  • Your focus drifts when you really need to be present and engaged
  • You struggle to deal with habits that you don’t like and which do not reflect the person you want to be
  • You ruminate on past events or things that may never happen in the future
  • You avoid difficult but important conversations
  • You want to respond to life’s everyday events that ‘push your buttons’ in a more productive way 
  • You get hooked by thoughts and feelings that you are inadequate, a fake or not as good as others

Mindfulness helps by building the ability to remain present even when we are experiencing negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions.

Mindfulness techniques can be integrated into many of the personal and business activities that are already undertaken and can improve connection with others, effectiveness when under stress and the ability to more readily face difficult situations.

How do I Start to Live More Mindfully?

Mindfulness practices can be as simple as developing conscious awareness of being present and in the moment and include exercises that be of a few minutes to half an hour in duration. The good news is that any awareness raising or mindfulness practice is useful. It is like physical exercise, some is better than none. Naturally more consistent practice and application will yield better results.

Try this short mindfulness exercise – Click here

Author: Graeme ByeJanuary 3, 2017


Graeme Bye is an organisational psychologist with a background in corporate organisations in HR and Leadership Development.

He coaches individuals and teams and includes mindfulness practices and techniques to improve effectiveness, manage stress and achieve focus.