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Mindfulness

Provides information on mindfulness, how to practise it and how it can help with mental health problems.

Check your mindfulness teacher's qualifications

Mindfulness courses should always be delivered by an appropriate person. Check your teacher is listed by the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA). This shows that they are:

  • properly trained
  • hold insurance
  • are supervised by another experienced professional.

"Sometimes mindfulness makes you turn towards things you would normally avoid. That can be challenging. But if you have an experienced mindfulness teacher they can help you to pace yourself."

Introductory courses, taster sessions and groups

If you choose to learn mindfulness with an introductory course, this type of option:

  • can range from a one-day course to an eight-week course
  • is typically very structured and will go through basic concepts and exercises
  • may be tailored to particular groups, such as students, people serving in the military or people with a particular mental health diagnosis.

Brief taster sessions and informal mindfulness groups are also common.

How to find introductory courses, taster sessions and groups

You might find that these are organised through your place of work or education, or a local library or community centre.

Some local Mind branches may run mindfulness courses and groups. For a fee, some private teachers may also offer introductory courses.

"I went on a mindfulness course once a week for about eight weeks. It covered body mindfulness, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful environmental awareness and more."

Formal mindfulness courses (MBCT and MBSR)

Some structured mindfulness therapy programmes have been developed to treat specific problems. The most well-established courses are:

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for depression and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for general stress. It can also help you manage long-term health conditions.

In some cases the NHS recommends these treatments, as studies show that they can work well. But availability on the NHS varies across the country and waiting lists can be long.

Different courses may have slightly different structures, but in general they:

  • are delivered by qualified practitioners
  • last for a fixed number of sessions, across a specific time frame – typically a two-hour session, every week for eight weeks, although some courses may offer shorter introductory sessions
  • involve group work and group discussion, but you can usually contribute as much as you feel comfortable with
  • include a mixture of meditation and daily mindfulness exercises, which you're asked to practise between sessions.

Some other types of talking therapies use mindfulness techniques, such as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

How to find formal mindfulness courses

To find a formal mindfulness course near you, you can:

You can find out more on the MBCT website, or see our pages on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and talking therapy and counselling.

"As the course starts, it isn't always clear exactly how it will help. The encouragement to just do something, to put one foot in front of the other without thinking about it and questioning it too much can be really helpful."

One-to-one private sessions

For a fee, some mindfulness teachers offer one-to-one sessions through the private sector. Some therapists and counsellors also have mindfulness training and can integrate these techniques into their approach.

One-to-one sessions may be expensive. But they are more likely to be tailored to your particular situation and won't include group work.

How to find private sessions

You can look for a qualified mindfulness teacher or therapist in your local area through:

For more information on things to consider when starting any kind of therapy, see our page getting the most from therapy.

Buddhist mindfulness courses

These courses include traditional Buddhist practices of mindful meditation and other mindful techniques, in the context of Buddhist teaching. These are likely to promote general mental wellbeing rather than tailored treatment for specific health problems.

How to find Buddhist mindfulness courses

These courses are usually taught at Buddhist centres. See Buddhanet's World Buddhist Directory to find a Buddhist centre near you. Contact them directly to see what they offer.

Self-guided resources

There are many self-guided resources to help you through different mindfulness exercises. Apps, books and audio – such as CDs and podcasts – are typically less structured than online courses.

Self-help resources have no formal regulation, and vary greatly in quality and cost. This can make it hard to judge what might work for you. But in general, it's a good idea to look for a course or resource that:

  • is designed by qualified mindfulness teachers
  • gives you clear information about its potential benefits and risks
  • provides information about research studies that have explored how effective it is
  • is supported by the NHS or a mental health organisation
  • has been recommended to you by someone you trust.

Many people practise mindfulness online or use a smartphone app to help. Online resources might be useful when you're feeling less able to engage in face-to-face support.

For support with using digital mental health tools, see our information on staying safe online.

How to find self-guided resources

For books and audio:

  • Take a look at the reading lists for mindfulness books on Reading Well and Overcoming.
  • Try visiting your local library or bookshop to find appropriate titles.
  • Search for mindfulness podcasts on streaming platforms or online.​

For online courses and apps:

  • NHS Digital Apps Library lists free online courses and apps related to mindfulness.
  • Smiling Mind offers a free mobile app for practising mindfulness exercises.
  • Headspace is a mobile subscription app for mindfulness – the free version covers basic exercises.
  • Breathworks offers mindfulness courses to manage pain, stress and illness. These courses tend to cost money.

For more tips on doing mindfulness by yourself, see our page on mindfulness exercises.

This information was published in November 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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