Frequently asked questions

Black female staring

How can mindfulness help?

Practising mindfulness can give people more insight into their emotions, boosting their attention and concentration. It’s proven to help many people with stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours, and can even have a positive effect on physical problems like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain.


What’s the difference between MBSR and MBCT?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It applies insight meditation techniques, which have a Buddhist psychological framework, in a secular format.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for recurrent depression was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. MBCT for recurrent depression represents an evolutionary development of MBSR within a cognitive scientific theoretical framework. It has proven effective in clinical trials for preventing recurrent depression, and is approved and recommended in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). (Oxford Mindfulness Centre)

Is mindfulness for me?

Many people benefit from practicing mindfulness, but like any treatment or therapy it’s impact is not universal and its benefits will vary from person to person. We advise that anyone living with or suspects they are developing a serious mental health problem, for example depression, seeks the advice of their GP before undertaking a course, and that training should only be provided by a qualified teacher or reputable online provider.


Is mindfulness a fad?

There are a lot of misconceptions around mindfulness, including that it’s a fad with no evidence-base. Mindfulness doesn’t work for everyone, but for those who practise regularly it can have significant results. Hear from James who was initially sceptical of mindfulness:

“Mindfulness was first suggested to me by the mental health and wellbeing team at my university. I guess I paid lip service to mindfulness at first; it seemed very ‘touchy feely’, like an airy fairy, homeopathic take on treatment. I thought ‘how can breathing slowly and thinking ‘happy thoughts’ help me in the long term?’ However, my opinion of mindfulness completely changed after the session.

Today, I build mindfulness into my everyday life. Breathing, imagery and meditation exercises I find most useful, and I tend to do these once or twice a day. The biggest shock for me was that I could practise anywhere, anytime, and often without other people knowing. It’s actually very empowering to know that I can control my reactions and feelings in any situation without others even being aware of it”.

Hear more stories from real people discovering mindfulness and the impact it has had on their lives. 


How can I learn mindfulness?

There are a number of ways you can learn mindfulness depending on your preference for face to face training or whether you would prefer to learn online.

In person

There are a growing number of academic institutions, organisations, and individuals teaching mindfulness across the UK. Check out our teachers’ directory to find a teacher in your area. We advise that anyone living with or suspects they are developing a serious mental health problem seeks the advice of their GP before undertaking a course, and that training should only be provided by a qualified teacher.

Our Be Mindful Online Course is a four-week online course that is designed to guide you through all the elements of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It has been proven to reduce anxiety by 58%, depression by 57%, and stress by 40%. In as little as four weeks, you can expect to be enjoying benefits, including reduced stress, depression and anxiety.

Books and audio
There are lots of books, apps and other audio on the market currently offering guidance in mindfulness practise. For a beginner, we recommend Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (2011) which includes a free CD of guided meditations.


Where can I learn mindfulness for free?

NHS trusts currently offering mindfulness training include: Sussex Partnership and Lancashire Care, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness is currently providing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) eight-week courses for the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. These are offered to people with current, or a history of, mild to moderate depression, and for people with long-term physical conditions (see recommendations by NICE), and are delivered through Talking Space in Oxford and Healthy Minds in Buckinghamshire.

However, access to free face-to-face mindfulness training is still limited. Together with the Mindfulness Initiative, we are campaigning for mindfulness practice to be widely available in prisons, schools, hospitals and the workplace. We are also calling for:

  • The promotion of mindfulness with NHS referrers
  • National waiting times for NICE-recommended interventions/treatments
  • Choice of interventions/treatments – both face to face and online
  • Fidelity with research recommendations, including the number and duration of sessions.

Find out more about our work and see how you can support us in increasing access to mindfulness training.


How can I provide mindfulness training in my organisation?

Mindfulness training can be delivered in person by a teacher and through our online course.

You can find qualified teachers (MBSR/MBCT) that are local to you here. Mindfulness training is usually given in a group setting where participants are expected to attend weekly training sessions over a period of 8 weeks.

You can also offer places on our online mindfulness course that allows participants to learn and practise at their own pace from home. In this way you can offer everyone in your organisation the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of practising mindfulness.

See how you can run our online course in the workplace or in healthcare here or email us on bemindful@mentalhealth.org.uk

How can I train to teach mindfulness?

A great place to start would be Bangor University, The Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, who offer various courses, retreats and Masters Programmes. You can also find courses at the University of Exeter and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre at the University of Oxford.

The UK Network of Mindfulness-based Teacher Training organisations lists teachers who are able to demonstrate via assessment process that they meet good practice guidelines.

For further questions please contact us.