This page gives an overview of the following options, and lets you know where to find out more about them:
Our information on deciding whether mindfulness is right for you and getting the most from mindfulness also suggests some useful things to bear in mind.
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. This shows that they are properly trained, hold insurance and 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
'Introduction to mindfulness' courses:
- can range from one day courses to eight week courses
- are typically very structured and will go through the basic concepts and exercises
- may be tailored to particular groups, such as students, people serving in the military or people with a particular diagnosis.
Brief taster sessions and informal mindfulness groups are also common.
You might find introductory courses, taster sessions or groups 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. Private practitioners may also offer introductory courses for a fee.
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 these are recommended treatments on the NHS, as studies show that they can work well. But their 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 weekly two-hour sessions run over eight weeks) – although some courses may offer introductory sessions which are much shorter.
- are group-based, involving group work and group discussion (you can usually contribute as much as you feel comfortable with)
- involve a mixture of meditation daily mindfulness exercises, which you're asked to practise in between sessions.
Talk to your GP or use the online NHS service finder to find out if these programmes are available near you. They may also be offered through the private sector, although this involves paying a fee.
You can also find out more from our pages on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and talking therapy and counselling, and the MBCT website.
Buddhist mindfulness courses
These kinds of courses include traditional Buddhist practices of mindfulness meditation and other mindful techniques. They're usually taught at Buddhist centres in the context of Buddhist teaching, and are likely to promote general mental wellbeing (not be a tailored treatment for specific health problems).
See Buddhanet's world Buddhist directory to find a Buddhist centre near you, and contact them directly to see what they offer.
One-to-one sessions with private practitioners
Some mindfulness teachers offer one-to-one sessions through the private sector. Some therapists and counsellors also have mindfulness training and can integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their approach. One-to-one sessions are more likely to be be tailored to your particular situation, and don't include any group work, but they may be expensive.
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.
Online courses, apps, books and CDs
There are many self-guided mindfulness resources available to guide you through different mindfulness exercises. Apps, books and CDs are typically less structured than an online courses.
There's no formal regulation of self-help resources and they vary greatly in quality and cost, so it can be hard to judge what might work for you. But in general, it's a good idea to look for course or resource that:
- is designed and delivered 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, or has been recommended to you by someone you trust.
- Be Mindful (part of the Mental Health Foundation charity) runs a 4 week online mindfulness course developed by qualified teachers. It's listed in the NHS Digital Library.
- Breathworks offers mindfulness courses to manage pain, stress and illness.
Our page of mindfulness exercises gives more tips on doing mindfulness by yourself. For support with using digital mental health tools, see our pages on staying safe online.
This information was published in June 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.