Where is your head
right now?

Do your thoughts jump backwards and forwards between yesterday and tomorrow? Don’t worry, that’s normal. But, if you want to live life as fully and intensely as you can, then be where it happens: in the here and now!

Slow the pace, increase mindfulness, activate the serotonin boost! Mindfulness has experienced an incredible boom in recent years. The concept of “mindfulness” has a spiritual origin, in both the larger and smaller religions of the world. Mindfulness is a mental discipline that is more than a promise to feel good. Scientific research into mindfulness has produced a consistently positive picture: reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue, improved memory function and attention span, coping better with negative feelings or chronic pain and positive effects on different mental illnesses. Mindfulness means significantly more than “feeling good” and is something we should engage with if we want to take care of our physical and mental health.

What does “mindfulness” mean exactly?

In general, mindfulness is awareness of the present moment, in which you do not pick up on or act on nascent thoughts, nor do you analyse them. All thoughts, feelings and perceptions that reach the centre of attention are acknowledged and accepted, exactly as they are. So mindfulness means being able to focus your attention, but also being able to change the focus of attention. This also includes being able to suppress further thoughts or regulate emotions. Other aspects of mindfulness are impartiality, openness and self-awareness. Research shows that these different aspects are associated with specific areas of the brain. In addition, mindfulness has a demonstrably positive effect on happiness with relationships, negative emotions, empathy and wellbeing.

The 7 principles of mindfulness

Mindfulness is based on seven principles: non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, letting go and acceptance. These principles make it easier to contemplate yourself and the world calmly, without needing to assess your own situation, for instance. This then allows you to pay more attention to what is going on in the moment. Mindfulness is first and foremost about seeing the world through alert eyes, being less strict on yourself and accepting things as they are. The seven principles are a good starting point for bringing breathing space and peace into your life.

How does mindfulness work?

In essence, mindfulness begins with small things, and can be incorporated into everyday life at any point. Twenty minutes of conscious mindfulness training are, of course, more time than a few seconds of gratitude for the tea or coffee in your break. However, this is exactly where the art of not weighing one thing up against the other, or not evaluating them, begins. Because precisely these small moments – a few seconds of gratitude and maybe a thought dedicated to all the people who worked for this cup of tea or coffee – contain the first step to greater awareness of the here and now. Every day contains hundreds of such moments. So why not start straight away?

Active in green spaces – mindfulness exercises on the go

Alongside the small moments of mindfulness in everyday life, there are also various mindfulness techniques, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and forms of meditation such as movement-based mindfulness practices like yoga, tai-chi and qigong.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be traced back to a programme by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who emphasises accepting the experience of the moment and not evaluating it. Mindfulness is the central element, practised via mediation elements and physical exercises. MBSR is generally taught as an 8-week course and is suitable for people who wish to learn different mindfulness techniques with a professional instructor. You can find more information on the website of the MBSR-Association Switzerland.


mindfulness practices

Yoga is a form of movement-based mindfulness practice. There are many different types of yoga, such as Anusara, Bikram, Vinyasa, Kundalini or Jivamukti, or new trends like Acro or Laughter yoga. Every yoga method has its own particular characteristics. Overall, yoga has a demonstrably positive influence on mental and physical health. If you are interested in yoga, you can find further information on the website of Yoga Schweiz Suisse Svizzera weitere Informationen.

Tai-chi (tajiquan, tai ji) and qigong are also movement-based mindfulness practices. Although tai-chi was originally developed in China in the 17th century as a martial art, the gentle and flexible movement sequences are now practised all around the world, by both old and young, as the health-giving art of balance and coordination. The meditative art of movement in tai-chi helps the mind and body to relax, stimulates the cardiovascular system, promotes flexibility and has an overall positive effect on the human body.

Qigong is the name for traditional movement, meditation and breathing techniques developed over centuries in China, with Buddhist, Daoist and medical influences. The biggest difference between tai-chi and qigong is that, unlike tai-chi, the energy in qigong is controlled more through mindfulness than movement. If you are interested, you can find more information about tai-chi and qigong on the website of the Swiss Association for Qigong and Taijiquan.

Mindfulness in (performance) sports
Sports psychology is now paying increasing attention to the concept of mindfulness. The Department of Sports Sciences at Humbold University in Berlin describes the different effects of mindfulness in performance sport on its website. If you are an athlete or trainer, or if you are just interested in this subject, you can find further information directly on the website of the Department of Sports Science at Humboldt University in Berlin.

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    You are here to live, to grow and to love.
    Not to please everyone, to be liked by everyone and
    to forget yourself in the process.

    Bahar Yilmaz

    Tips and tricks

    Start by journalling for five minutes: write down 3 things for which you are grateful every morning when you wake up. They don’t need to be spectacular things. Also write down your wishes for the day ahead: “My day will be successful if...”

    Do your shopping on foot. This will ensure that you slow down, it is healthy, and you will see more of your environment.

    During the day, keep turning your attention to your breathing. How do you breathe? Inhale and exhale slowly.

    Are you stressed and anxious? What would you say to a friend in this situation? Try to say the same thing to yourself. This is practising self-compassion.

    What’s available in Zug Canton

    • References
      Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Cormody, J. et al. (2004).
      Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230–241.
      Jansen, P., Seidl, F. & Richter, S. (2019).
      Achtsamkeit im Sport - Theorie und Praxis zu achtsamkeitsbasierten Verfahren in Freizeit, Training, Wettkampf und Rehabilitation (Mindfulness in Sport – theory and practice of mindfulness-based techniques in leisure, training, competitions and rehabilitation). Berlin: Springer.
      Kirch, D. (2012).
      Handbuch Stressbewältigung(Stress Management Handbook). Murnau: Mankau Verlag GmbH.
      Spiegelberg, S. (2016).
      Achtsamkeit - der grosse Trend. (Mindfulness – the huge trend. - Blog post). Psychologie im Alltag nutzen - Blog der ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (Using psychology in everyday life – Blog of Zurich University for Applied Sciences).