An Introduction to Mindfulness

Four Scents Team

What is Mindfulness?

A buzzword in the wellness industry and beyond, we take a look at what is meant by mindfulness and what its role is in tackling the stressors of modern life…
    Woman Meditating On Summit With Beautiful View  
A good place to start is to think about is what mindfulness isn’t. Think about a typical day – bolting down meals, rushing through daily tasks on autopilot, reacting judgementally to circumstances…and most definitely not paying attention to how you’re breathing!

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is credited with bringing this concept into Western culture, defines mindfulness succinctly:

“Mindfulness means
paying attention in a particular way:
on purpose,
in the present moment,
and non-judgmentally.”

He also described it as “wakefulness and open-hearted presence.” 

Mindfulness is not so much about escaping from the everyday, but to be more awake and alive to it; to snap out of autopilot and the ego that accompanies it (ego being insecure inner talk, dictated by feelings they provoke and often wanting to control life).


A Cup Of Tea


A Simple Example    

Making a cup of tea is a popular yet great place to start – a task that is easily rushed. It’s a point in the day where I can intentionally stop, become aware of my breathing (which generally needs attention, as it’s too rapid and shallow!). It’s an opportunity to switch off from inner chatter and focus on the process of brewing, then taking the time to savour the comforting warmth and taste.


Diagram of Brainwaves


The Physical Benefits of Mindfulness

We generally operate at four levels of consciousness – each level has a corresponding brain wave (see the illustration above). Beta waves are important for doing the everyday tasks, keeping us focused. Its when we go into overdrive, attempting to multitask and many things clamouring for our attention, that a sense of panic kicks in. Below this level of consciousness are the Alpha waves. This is where mindfulness and meditation come in, encouraging this slower, more restful brain activity ( It’s a threshold to the subconscious, which is associated with peak creativity, empathy and intuition. This is why we often get a moment of clarity in the bath or shower!


The mind, brain and body are connected, so this has a knock-on effect on our physical health:
It helps manage symptoms of illness and helps facilitate recovery.
Linked with lower blood pressure, particularly when skilled in nonjudging and nonreactivity (Tomfohr, Pung, Mills, & Edwards, 2015 -
Improved cardiovascular health through a more active lifestyle – becoming more aware can lead to healthier lifestyle choices.
Can enhance or increase health generally, by improving sleep and alleviating gastrointestinal difficulties.
Improved cognitive function, aiding memory and focus.
      Man Standing at End of Pier Looking Out to Sea 

The Psychological Benefits of Mindfulness

Taking our cue from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition, mindfulness wakes us up to the present moment, as well as many other benefits for our mental wellbeing:
Encourages calm in the face of adversity.
Objectivity and tolerance – being able to live more intentionally and less reactively.
Helps improve relationships, becoming more attentive and present to others.
Helps a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction and eating disorders.
Increased emotional regulation – the ability to rein in or enhance emotions depending on situation and need.
One study ( shows mindfulness reduces rumination.
Promotes empathy and compassion.


Woman Sitting Looking at Mountains


Putting Mindfulness into Practice

To obtain the benefits, mindfulness works best as part of a routine – it needs to happen regularly and often. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean an overhaul to our schedules. Even 10 minutes a day has been shown to be beneficial (Moore, Gruber, Derose, & Malinowski, 2012 -!


It’s easy to struggle with this concept. We’re conditioned to be busy and productive, so mindfulness can be perceived as lazy or indulgent. However, deep down, we want to flourish. So, if we can take the courage to counter these perceptions, we (and others!) can benefit from the transformation mindfulness brings.
We invite you to stay tuned for helpful pointers and tips from Four Scents. Discover simple techniques and routines that work for you…
Reference: Soulfulness by Brian Draper




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