Mindfulness and Relaxation

Mindfulness is the practise of paying attention, on purpose, non-judgementally, to the present moment (John Kabit Zinn) often refered to as the art of Stillness. This may sound easy but in fact can be one of the hardest things we do, as our mind naturally wanders to, and gets distracted by, thoughts of things past and or future. We in turn become entangled with the feelings these thoughts bring with them, of regrets of things that have happened or fears of things that are yet to come and this in turn robs us of the present moment, which in and of itself is ok and so stops us paying attention to what is.

There is an established and ever growing body of evidence to show that the practise of mindfulness has positive effects on our mood, our tolerance, for ourselves, others & the world around us, our concentration and our general sense of wellbeing. As a practise, it is not of itself complex, it is free and requires no equipment only our willingness to engage.

Mindfulness practises may be formal or informal. Formal practise involves setting aside a dedicated time to practise specific techniques, the most common ones being 1) The Body Scan and 2) The 3 Step Breathing Space. The Body Scan is typically half an hour but there are variations to this, as can be seen below, the duration is not necessarily the key but the ability to ‘attend’. The 3 Step Breathing Space, like the Body Scan is not necessarily time specific but emphasises attendance on the 3 steps (examples of both are below for you to follow). It is recommended when following formal practise that you set aside a regular place and time to practise daily to enable you to establish it as a routine.

Informal practise involves randomly picking moments or activities with which you engage during your day and ‘paying attention on purpose, non-judgementally’ to them, this may be brushing your teeth and/or hair, eating, walking, and actually paying full attention to what you are doing.

As Mohu Noelke said “Let the eating eat, the sitting sit, the work work, let sleep sleep”

The Occupational Therapy Department at St John of God Hospital offers a wide and varied Mindfulness and Relaxation Service, with Mindfulness and Relaxation being offered in both group and individual settings. There is a high level of expertise within the Occupational Therapy staff involved in delivering these interventions, as all staff  are both fully trained and actively engaged with personal and communal practises, engagement in practise being an essential requirement for any trainer.    

Inpatient Mindfulness Services

At an inpatient level we offer 4 levels of formal Mindfulness as part of our ‘Wellness & Recovery Programme’

Level 1 – weekly shared experience of body scan mediation and availability of recordings for personal daily practise
Level 2 – 3 x weekly ‘Introduction to Mindfulness Theory and Practise’ sessions
Level 3 – weekly mindful movement/yoga sessions
Level 4 – 1 weekly mindfulness in everyday life session

And informally we encourage via our ‘Mindfulness notice board’ general tips for daily mindfulness, and mindfulness tips for particular times of year/events ie. Christmas, family gatherings, seasons etc.

Outpatient Mindfulness Services

These are currently being developed

Mindful Mediations and Practices to download and experience for yourself

  • Body Scan
  • Body scan – short version
  • 3 step breathing space
  • Mindful Eating
  • Mindful Walking
  • Mindfulness of the senses

Recommended Reading

  • Living in a Frantic World – Mark Williams
  • Full Catastrophe Living – John Kabit Zinn
  • The Mindful Way Through Depression
Relaxation Techniques
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