Mindfulness is a skill, a practice, and an approach to life. It simply involves paying attention to the present moment. However, anyone who has tried meditation or relaxed breathing knows that it is far from easy to keep the mind from going off in several different directions (often at once!).
Mindfulness was first introduced as medical intervention to help patients manage pain and stress due to illness. The clinical benefits quickly became apparent, as people learned to slow their breathing, they were able to quiet their bodies and feel more at ease. This also translated into more lasting benefits, as they found their pain levels decreased, they felt calmer and better able to handle stressors, and their relationships improved.
Over the past several decades, mindfulness and relaxation techniques have been incorporated into treatments for many medical illnesses and most therapies for emotional and behavioral problems. I use it in my practice to help with pain, muscles tension, neurological issues, anxiety, depression, and even relationship difficulties. Mindfulness increases awareness and management of physical responses to stress, negative thoughts, and strong emotions. It is a core element in both Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
"We only have moments to live."
-Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Developer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)
Free Guided Mindfulness Exercises*
(Click to Listen/Download)
Self Compassion 6 Minutes
Mindful Breathing 6 Minutes
Breath and Body Awareness 14 Minutes
Body Scan 16 Minutes
Full Body Scan 45 Minutes
*These exercises are recorded by Dr. Amy Heard and are intended for personal, non-commercial use. They are not intended as a clinical intervention, but may be used to cope with stress and increase present moment awareness. I welcome your questions or feedback, and I hope that you will use them in good health.
Mindfulness is so widely practiced, researched, and accepted at this point that there are far too many resources to list in one place. Here are some places to find information, research, discussion, community, and guided exercises. Whether you like books, websites, podcasts, or apps, we hope you will find something that connects for you.
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
10% Happier and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
*UCLA has mindfulness exercises available in the following languages:
American Sign Language (ASL)
10% Happier with Dan Harris
Mindfulness Mode by Bruce Langford