is it a coping skill? a daily practice? an approach to life?

Can it be all of these things?

(Scroll down the page for resources and exercises, or keep reading to learn more about it.)

In it's simplest form, being mindful means paying attention to the present moment.  You can do that on a walk, in an airport, while eating a meal, or when doing chores by observing your sensations and the "activity of your mind" (aka, your thoughts).  However, anyone who has tried meditation or relaxed breathing knows that it is far from easy to keep the mind from wandering off - often in several different directions!

Mindfulness originated from a set of ancient practices used to develop spiritual awareness and improve the acuity of the mind and body.  It was first explored as a medical intervention in the 1960s by Dr. Herbert Benson (https://bensonhenryinstitute.o...) and Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn (https://jonkabat-zinn.com/) 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 (we call these unintended positive results "happy accidents"). 

While it is similar to and can be used with relaxation exercises, it is not the same because the goal is PAYING ATTENTION, not relaxing. This is important, because it means that if you don't immediately feel relaxed and peaceful, it does NOT mean you are doing it "WRONG."  Over time, though, it does help to change your body's response to stress, which is a benefit we can all use.  The "therapeutic dose" is generally accepted as daily practice for at least 12 minutes, but even a few minutes of focused, mindful breathing can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

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, muscle 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.   Below are some resources and exercises.  I hope you find them helpful and give them a try!!

"We only have moments to live."
-Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Researcher, author, and developer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)

Free Guided Mindfulness Exercises*
(Click to Listen/Download)

Self Compassion 6 Minutes

Mindful Breathing 6 Minutes

Body Scan 16 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 resources to find information, research, discussion, community, and guided exercises.  Whether you like books, websites, podcasts, youtube videos or apps, I hope you will find something that connects for you.  These are just some of my go-to favorites.


Full Catastrophe Living   by Jon Kabat-Zinn

10% Happier and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics   by Dan Harris

Radical Acceptance    by Tara Brach

Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff








*UCLA has mindfulness exercises available in several languages



Head Space

10% Happier

Simply Being

Insight Timer


Napuru-nature sounds

Pranayama Breathing 


10% Happier with Dan Harris

Untangle:  Mindfulness for Curious Humans

Mindfulness Mode by Bruce Langford


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