Learning mindfulness is sometimes referred to as brain training as we are training ourselves to notice where our mind/attention is being pulled and if we chose we shift our attention back to the present moment such as the task we are meant to be doing, the conversation we are having, the coffee we are drinking or the breath I am taking. Acceptance is another significant part of the Mindfulness puzzle-when we learn to accept our experience (for example the emotion we are having) we can then learn to respond (using reflection and wisdom) rather than react (often an auto pilot) to our experiences.
Mindfulness is often taught within the other therapeutic approaches as it can be so helpful in creating a sense of emotional balance but can also be taught by itself. You will learn mindfulness through practice-sometimes referred to as formal practice (mindfulness meditations e.g. using our breath, body or sound) and informal practice (learning to engage in everyday activities mindfully). In order to really reap the rewards you will have to be prepared to put in practice though as although it is simple it is also very different from the way our mind normally behaves!
How can Mindfulness help?
Mindfulness and especially Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was initially used to help reduce recurrent depression. Interestingly recent research indicated that whether you believed it would help was largely irrelevant and what really made the difference to peoples wellbeing was how much they practiced-so no placebo effect was found which is quire unusual!
Mindfulness can help people struggling with a range of problems-not just recurring depression-as essentially it helps us to build a new relationship to our thoughts and emotions -not getting rid of them but learning to relate to them in a different way which can then reduce the impact they have on us. Mindfulness can also help those in physical pain.