What is Mindfulness?

Prof. Dr. Verena Briner, FRCP
Prof. Dr. Verena Briner, FRCP
Healthy Lifestyle
Burnout, depression, anxiety and exhaustion - mental illnesses are becoming more frequent. It is therefore important to know appropriate techniques to do something good for yourself.

One of the most popular methods is mindfulness. But what is it?

“The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.”

This is a well-known phrase of the mindfulness pope Jon Kabat Zinn. The emeritus professor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester teaches mindfulness meditation and has set off a trend that is not only interesting for old hippies and alternative forms of life. Mindfulness is not esoteric and not psychic. Being a rational, logical, strict person does not contradict mindfulness at all.

On the contrary. Especially the hectic modern professional world benefits from mindfulness. Anxiety, stress and an unhealthy work-life-balance often harm the well-being. Whether under the concept of meditation or not - mindfulness exercises actively combat frequent triggers of burnout and other stress disorders.


Mindfulness - what is it anyway?

In its shortest definition mindfulness can be defined a particularly active form of awareness. In a mindfulness exercise or meditation inner and outer experience should be perceived with mindful attention and without value or prejudice. This includes thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, but also the environment, its noises, smells and, if necessary, other people. The idea of the mindfulness meditation is to have a present moment and to perceive the world and the things in it without classifying them in categories of wrong and right.

In this way, stress can be reduced and relaxation can be achieved by reducing the pressure of evaluation and general circumstances. Once everything is accepted in its essence, it is easier to find a healthy way to deal with it. This applies to both professional and private issues as well as to negative affects such as illness, separation or negative feelings.

Mindfulness is often used in meditations, yoga and similar exercises, but is also used for therapy. At the same time, the technique has long since arrived in business and is regarded as one of the hype topics in big business. Apps, coaching offers and mindfulness zones in offices sprout like mushrooms from the ground. To purists that might seem contradictory to its definition, but the attention paid to the topic mindfulness meditation is a success in the fight against many diseases and the everyday stress of many people.

It has many positive effects to meditate and to be mindful. It helps lowering the stress level and illnesses such as Burnout, depression and fear illnesses can be tackled with it. People who practice mindfulness exercises such as breathings and meditations regularly and seriously are usually more satisfied with themselves and less dependent on their environment. They are therefore better able to deal with rejections, conflicts and other problems.



How do you do it?

One of the great advantages of the mindfulness practice is that it is available at any time and in practically any situation. Being mindful works in longer exercises and meditations, but also in small moments. For example, you could consciously take time to take a call when the phone rings instead of picking up the phone immediately.

There are basically no better or worse methods. It is important to approach the matter openly and try out what suits you best. The nature and effect of mindfulness meditation and the like can only really be understood if one practices them by having a present moment.

One of the best known mindfulness exercises, for example, is the Bodyscan, which by the way was also put into the world of meditation and yoga through Jon Kabat-Zinn. The Bodyscan is about the inner, conscious palpation of one's own body. Boredom can thereby occur as well as unpleasant sensations. This is quite normal and an important part of the exercise. The idea is to accept also negative thoughts as equal and to confront them non-judgmentally. This may sound strange and difficult, but it is also an important skill in everyday professional life. Because not everything always goes according to plan.

Generally, relaxation only is a pleasant side effect of the process in most mindfulness practices, although it's a pleasant side-effect. However, the primary goal of the technique is not to achieve relaxation, but to perceive oneself without judging.

However, many people find it difficult to find time for themselves in everyday life. But especially in stressful times it is important to look inside. It can therefore help to consciously apply the brakes during a holiday or a cure. In the Waldhotel, for example, we offer the Mindfulness Pro programme. Its aim is to explore your resting potential with professional and experienced help and to find your balance again. At the same time, it is also important to learn how to find relaxation and peace in your daily routine.


Mindful moments in everyday life and at work

With a little routine and awareness the mindfulness exercises can be accommodated very well in everyday life. Even stressful and time-consuming professions can be well supported with various method and some few present moments.

A good possibility is to do an mindfulness exercise in bed in the morning, before getting up. Many people start the day already stressed and unwilling and it is difficult for them to get rid of this mood in the course of the day. But there is something you can do about it. Breathing exercises or a body scan are particularly suitable and can be done while lying down or sitting on the bed. They can help to start the day with full awareness and to face the challenges of the day on the basis of a satisfied, stable condition.

The lunch break is also a good time to pause for a moment. Whether you take some time and shorten the meal or whether you limit yourself to five to ten minutes is of course entirely up to you. Depending on your stress level and the chosen exercises, for example, a few minutes of conscious breathing can help. And often colleagues are also interested in mindfulness exercises - maybe you can get together or join an existing group?

But also apart from the professional pace, you always have the opportunity to take a samll break in your everyday life and consciously pause for a moment. It is sometimes sufficient to interrupt an activity for five minutes and carry out a simple exercise. Whether this is a some mindful breathing or simply a conscious pause is not so crucial. It is more important to practice and reflect mindful awareness without further evaluation.

In addition, everyday activities such as ironing, tidying up or making coffee can be used for simple, short mindfulness practices and one healthy present moment. The slow, conscious execution, full of concentration but without evaluation, can have a calming and relaxing effect. However, it is important not to perform too complex tasks, at least for the beginning. Try to always be in control of your emotions, care for your breathing.

No matter when and how: Mindfulness can be a good friend when times are stressful and your full awareness is needed.