Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies®

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Table of Contents


About This Book

How to Use This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organised

Part I: Getting Started with Mindfulness

Part II: Preparing Yourself for Mindful Living

Part III: Practising Mindfulness

Part IV: Enjoying the Rewards of Mindfulness

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Getting Started with Mindfulness

Chapter 1: Beginning Your Mindfulness Journey

Understanding Mindfulness

Locating the origins of mindfulness

Mulling over what mindfulness means

Exploring Types of Mindfulness Meditation

Setting Off on a Mindful Journey

Taking the first steps: Choosing your learning method

Treading the path: Committing to practise mindfulness regularly

Overcoming difficulties along the way

Accepting that the journey is the destination

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness

Connecting with Your Body

Feeling more in tune with your body

Boosting your immune function and digestion

Calming Your Mind

Coming to your senses

Stepping back from your thoughts

Improving your focus and concentration

Making better decisions

Soothing Your Emotions

Using mindfulness for emotional health

Understanding the nature of emotions

Being Yourself

Meeting your observer self

Letting go of unhelpful identification

Part II: Preparing Yourself for Mindful Living

Chapter 3: Setting a Healthy Intention and Mindful Attitude

Exploring Your Intentions

Clarifying your intentions

Discovering your deepest intentions

Unveiling Your Values

Selecting values that work for you

Using memory to uncover your values

Listing your top five values

Unleashing the Power of Attitude

Uncovering your attitudes to mindfulness

Nurturing a non-judging attitude

Exploring Mindful Attitudes

Fostering acceptance

Practising patience

Being non-striving

Cultivating beginner’s mind

Building trust

Staying curious

Remaining playful and light-hearted

Developing self-compassion

Tuning in to an attitude of gratitude

Letting go through a forgiving attitude

Dealing with Unhelpful Attitudes

Chapter 4: Discovering a Mindful Mode of Mind

To Be or Not to Be: Understanding Two Modes of Mind

Discovering the elements of doing mode

Finding out about being mode

Acceptance: Key to self-development

Balancing Doing and Being in Your Life

Enjoying more being in everyday life

Discovering key ways to just be

Dealing with Emotions in Being Mode

Part III: Practising Mindfulness

Chapter 5: Engaging in Mindfulness Meditation

Focusing on Mindful Breathing Meditation

Exploring Mindful Movement Meditation

Engaging with the Body Scan Meditation

Introducing the body scan

Practising the body scan meditation

Overcoming common obstacles with the body scan

Practising Sitting Meditation

Exploring different sitting positions

Exploring the stages of sitting meditation

Overcoming common issues

Trying Loving Kindness Meditation

Preparing for loving kindness meditation

Practising loving kindness meditation

Overcoming possible issues

Chapter 6: Living Mindfully Day to Day

Short and Sweet: Using Mini Meditations

Practising the breathing space meditation

Discovering the mini breath meditation

Centring yourself with the mini grounding meditation

Being Mindful in Everyday and Intimate Relationships

Discovering how well your relationships are going

Finding out how mindfulness helps relationships

Seeing relationships as a mindful practice

Exploring the mirror of relationships

Dealing with difficult relationships

Exercising Mindfully

Clarifying the elements of mindful physical activity

Discovering examples of mindful physical exercise

Overcoming Insomnia

Chapter 7: Getting Started on an Eight-week Mindfulness Course

Preparing for an Eight-week Course in Mindfulness

Working by yourself or with a therapist

Making the commitment and preparing yourself

Engaging in the eight-week course

Week One: Automatic Pilot

Mindful eating

Body scan meditation

Home practice for week one

Week Two: Dealing with Difficulties

How you react to pleasant events

Mindfulness of breath

Thoughts and feelings exercise

Home practice for week two

Week Three: Mindfulness and Your Breath

Sitting meditation – mindfulness of breath and body

Breathing space meditation

Mindful stretching

Mindful walking

Unpleasant events diary

Home practice for week three

Week Four: Staying Present

Sitting meditation

Coping breathing space

Home practice for week four

Chapter 8: Completing the Eight-week Mindfulness Course . . . and Beyond

Week Five: Discovering the Power of Acceptance

Mindful sitting meditation – exploring a difficulty and associated body sensations

Home practice for week five

Week Six: Realising that Thoughts Aren’t Facts

Stepping back from thoughts

Mindful sitting meditation – exploring a difficulty and associated thoughts

Thoughts, mood and seeing things differently

Home practice for week six

Week Seven: Looking After Yourself

Enjoying pleasurable and mastery activities

Acting mindfully to manage stress

Developing a stress-reduction action plan

Home practice for week seven

Week Eight: Reflection and Change

Practice for this week

Home practice for week eight

Personal reflections on the course

Exploring the Next Step

Trying a silent day of mindfulness

Joining or starting a group

Online courses and training

Attending a retreat

Chapter 9: Overcoming Difficulties in Mindfulness Practice

Finding Time for Mindfulness

Making time for formal mindfulness practice

Fitting in informal mindfulness practice

Counting Sheep: Staying Awake During Meditation

Re-igniting Your Enthusiasm

Overcoming External Distractions

Coping with Physical Discomfort

Coping with Internal Distractions

Overcoming boredom or agitation

Dealing with unusual experiences

Handling difficult emotions

Managing difficult thoughts

Part IV: Enjoying the Rewards of Mindfulness

Chapter 10: Boosting Your Happiness Mindfully

Looking into the Concept of Happiness

Discovering your ideas about happiness

Challenging your ideas about happiness

Using Mindfulness with Positive Psychology

Flourishing with mindfulness and positivity

Practising gratitude

Savouring the now

Being kind to other people

Developing Positive Emotions Mindfully

Being mindful of your body posture

Say ‘cheese!’: Flexing your smile muscles

Boosting Creativity with Mindfulness

Creating the space for creativity with mindfulness

Encouraging creative solutions through meditation

Chapter 11: Using Mindfulness to Reduce Stress, Anger and Tiredness

Using Mindfulness to Manage Stress

Understanding stress

Measuring your stress levels

Responding rather than reacting to stress

Using the breathing space meditation to manage stress

Stepping back from your thoughts and emotions to reduce stress

Cooling the Flames of Anger

Understanding anger

Measuring your anger levels

Using mindful approaches to ease anger

Raising Your Energy Levels with Mindfulness

Discovering your daily energy levels

Identifying activities that drain or boost your energy

Practising meditations to boost your energy

Chapter 12: Reducing Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Dealing with Depression the Mindful Way

Understanding depression

Tackling recurring depression with mindfulness

Combating Depression with Mindful CBT Exercises

Interpreting your thoughts and feelings

Discovering the landscape of depression

Practising an alternative viewpoint exercise

Decentring from your thoughts

Creating a personal early warning system for depression

Calming Anxiety with Mindfulness

Defining anxiety disorder

Managing anxiety with mindfulness

Coping with your fears

Chapter 13: Healing Your Body Naturally

Meeting the Mind-body Connection

Using the Power of Your Mind in Healing

Boosting your immune system to reduce your stress

Taking a break to aid healing

Refusing to define yourself by your illness

Using Mindfulness to Manage Your Pain

Understanding how mindfulness can help with pain

Easing the emotional suffering of pain with mindfulness

Using meditations to deal with your pain

Chapter 14: Bringing the Benefits of Mindfulness to Children

Mindful Parenting: An Art of Living

Caring for yourself

Discovering your strengths and weaknesses: Completing a mindful parenting questionnaire

Feeling inspired by parenting tips

Coaching Children in Mindfulness

Setting the right example

Using approaches that children enjoy

Sharing Mindfulness Games with Children

Dropping the pin game

Letting sleeping lions lie game

Drawing a scene game

Going to a happy place meditation

Watching thoughts as clouds

Carrying out random act of kindness

Taking ten deep belly breaths

Sending love and happiness to everyone

Practising the attitude of gratitude game

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 15: Ten Tips for a Mindful Life

Engage in Daily Mindful ‘Me Time’

Meet People Mindfully

Enjoy the Natural World

Embrace Mindful Influences

Appreciate Your Blessings

Live in the Present Moment

Accept What You Can’t Change

Seeing Thoughts as Thoughts

Have Some Fun

Use the ACT Approach

Chapter 16: Ten Ways to Motivate Yourself to Meditate

Overcome Difficulties

Schedule Meditation

Make a List of the Benefits

Create a Mindful Space at Home

Find a Group or Community to Meditate With

Make Meditation a Habit

Deal with Emotions

Eliminate Distractions

Practise with Music

Change Posture

Cheat Sheet



In a world filled with constant distractions, demands and stresses, an increasing number of people are earnestly searching for a way of life that brings focus, clarity, calm and, ultimately, fulfilment and happiness. Whilst there are numerous doctrines or disciplines that offer this way of life, mindfulness is a discipline that I am particularly drawn to as a ­neuroscientist, as it is supported by a rich and convincing scientific evidence base. Thanks to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and other researchers, we know that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can boost well-being, reduce symptoms of stress and improve mood and coping strategies in a wide range of patients, including those suffering from chronic pain, those fighting cancer or those managing stress-related diseases. Through the research of John Teasdale and colleagues, we know that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety in patients who are failing to respond to traditional treatments. And through the efforts of countless researchers, we know that mindfulness-based practices can boost work productivity, reduce work absenteeism and improve social interactions in the workplace. This compelling evidence suggests a clear role for mindfulness in maintaining health, as well as addressing ill health, in people of all ages, backgrounds and professions.

Over the last decade, science has also revealed what happens in the brain during the practice of mindfulness, and this exciting research suggests that mindfulness may have effects on the performance of our brains, as well as beneficial effects on our physical and mental well-being. On both the short- and long-term, mindfulness can elicit changes in our brain that improve our emotional resilience, enhance our ability to regulate our emotional states, fine-tune our concentration and problem-solving skills, and develop compassion and empathy, for ourselves and others. These changes allow us to realise more of the potential of our brains, better equipping ourselves to deal with the challenges of modern life. This evidence presents a strong rationale for incorporating regular mindfulness practice into our everyday lives: in our families; in our schools; in the workplace; as part of our healthcare systems; and in our prisons.

The Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies is an excellent introduction to mindfulness and the nuts and bolts of how to live a mindful life. Embarking on any journey can be daunting and the mindful journey is no different. Where should you start? What books should you read? Who is a good teacher? And what is mindfulness anyway? This book sheds light on what being mindful really means and uses practical exercises to escort the reader through the different stages of the mindful journey. Whether a short body scan exercise to raise awareness of bodily sensations or a breathing meditation to calm the mind in a stressful situation, Shamash Alidina and Joelle Jane Marshall provide readers with a series of tools to help them both understand mindfulness and incorporate it into their everyday lives. The Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies can be used both in conjunction with an eight-week mindfulness-based programme taught by an experienced teacher and as an aid to guide the reader through this programme in their own home through solitary practice. By providing helpful tips and tricks, addressing potential difficulties arising through mindfulness practice, and giving readers step-by-step instructions on how to do the various mindfulness exercises, Shamash and Joelle have created an invaluable resource for anyone wishing to embark on their own mindful journey.

Dr Shanida Nataraja

Neuroscientist and author of The Blissful Brain: Neuroscience and Proof of the Power of Meditation (Gaia Books).


Welcome to the Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies. Mindfulness offers both a set of techniques and a way of living that can lead towards greater peace, wisdom and joy. Mindfulness is an ancient approach, but now scientific evidence from top universities worldwide shows its effectiveness in treating a range of conditions like depression, anxiety, chronic pain and much more.

Life is full of many challenges – everyone goes through some sort of difficulty over the course of their time on earth. Some difficulties may be physical or practical; others mental or emotional. Mindfulness offers a way of coping with all these difficulties in a harmonious way, so that you don’t make those difficulties even more painful, but meet them with wisdom and dignity, allowing them space to dissolve in their own time.

Mindfulness also enhances your life when things are going well. You learn to notice the world around you, become more grateful for what you have, more kind and forgiving towards yourself and others, focus more effectively at work, home, and in your relationships and enhance your physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

We’ve written this book to make mindfulness a practical reality in your life. The written exercises and accompanying guided meditation audio tracks offer a way to practise and then reflect on your personal experience of mindfulness and deepen your insights, both for beginners and more experienced practitioners too.

About This Book

This book contains a range of different ways to practise mindfulness in your life. We give you a combination of some theory along with lots of exercises to try out. With mindfulness, you discover much more by trying out the exercises rather than just reading theory, so this workbook is an ideal format for exploring mindfulness.

You can use this book as a stand-alone way of developing your own mindfulness. We describe all the key methods of practising mindfulness, and together with the accompanying audio, you can take your first steps into a more mindful way of living.

You can also use this book with a mindfulness teacher or therapist to discover new insights, try new exercises and to keep a useful record of your progress. You can then look back at what you wrote in this book to see how things have changed for you in the weeks, months or years that you’ve been engaging in mindfulness.

This book contains the main ways in which you can use mindfulness to overcome common difficulties like stress, anxiety, depression and physical health conditions. But the exercises are helpful for everyone; improving creativity, focus and offering a fresh, new look at your own life.

How to Use This Book

You don’t need to read this book from beginning to end. You can dip in and out of different chapters, choosing what’s most relevant or interesting for you. We’ve done our best to cross-reference each chapter to other parts in the book, so you can delve deeper into any concepts or exercises that may be of help to you. Use the Table of Contents at the front of the book and Index at the back to locate specific information.

Please feel free to write in this book – that’s how it’s designed. Scribble in each table to your heart’s content. And if you need more space, you may like to copy the tables for your own use or use your own notebook for further reflection.

Foolish Assumptions

If you’re reading this book, we’re assuming you’re interested in learning mindfulness. We’re guessing that you’ve heard about mindfulness and want to know more. As this is a workbook, we also assume, perhaps foolishly, that you want to get practical and do some mindfulness exercises and keep a record of your experience.

Perhaps you’re a mindfulness teacher, coach or therapist looking for exercises to use with your students or clients. You may have a friend or relative suffering from a difficulty and want to know if mindfulness can help. Or you may already be an experienced mindfulness practitioner looking to deepen your awareness. Whatever the reason, we hope you find the book useful.

How This Book Is Organised

The Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies is divided into five parts:

Part I: Getting Started with Mindfulness

This part unlocks the treasure chest and gives you a basic overview of mindfulness. Chapter 1 is all about what mindfulness is and how mindfulness may unfold in your life. In Chapter 2 we explain all the benefits of practising mindfulness on a regular basis.

Part II: Preparing Yourself for Mindful Living

Part II is about ensuring that you have the best underlying approach and mind-set before you dive into practical mindfulness exercises.

Chapter 3 is all about engaging the right attitudes, so when you do the mindfulness practice, you have a good grounding. Without the right attitudes, you may easily get side-tracked or disheartened if your experience doesn’t match your expectations. This chapter helps you to set things straight. Chapter 4 covers two modes of mind – ‘doing’ and ‘being’ mode. You explore the nature and importance of each of these modes, and how you can use mindfulness to identify and switch modes when necessary.

Part III: Practising Mindfulness

In this part we get down to detailed mindfulness practice. In Chapter 5 you learn all the core mindfulness meditations that you can continue to use for the rest of your life, if you like! Chapter 6 is all about how to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life. In this way, you don’t just meditate, but live mindfulness, moment by moment. Chapters 7 and 8 offer you a detailed, evidence-based eight-week mindfulness programme that has been tested by tens of thousands of students for many years. You can use this to learn mindfulness in a methodical way – ideal for beginners to mindfulness. Chapter 9 helps to answer common questions that people have when first learning mindfulness. If you’re having any difficulties in your mindfulness practice, Chapter 9 is the place to go.

Part IV: Enjoying the Rewards of Mindfulness

In this part, you discover how to use mindfulness to both increase your wellbeing and deal with common challenges. Chapter 10 is about happiness, and how mindfulness can help to enhance your long-term wellbeing. In Chapter 11 we offer ways mindfulness can relieve your stress and anger, and boost your energy. Chapter 12 explains the causes of anxiety and depression, and how mindfulness can help in these areas. Your physical health is covered in Chapter 13, along with how you can use mindfulness for conditions like chronic pain. And finally, Chapter 14 is about using mindfulness to improve your skills as a parent or teacher, and we share a range of specific mindful exercises to use with children.

Part V: The Part of Tens

Here in Chapters 15 and 16 you can pick up tips for living mindfully and ways to get yourself motivated to meditate. Online (at, we give you an additional Part of Tens chapter with lots of resources and ways of creatively enhancing your mindfulness. Some people like to start by reading the Part of Tens – we encourage you to take a look at these mini chapters for instant inspiration.

Icons Used in This Book

We use icons throughout this workbook to bring different types of information to your attention and to clearly guide you through the book.

remember.eps This icon is used to emphasise information worth bearing in mind.

tip.eps The Tip icon alerts you to additional useful information that may help you to better understand a concept or to complete an exercise.

trythis.eps You’ll see this icon next to exercises to encourage you to flex your mindfulness muscles.

warning_bomb.eps This icon is an alarm denoting possible pitfalls, common errors or potential dangers.

wisewords.eps Find pearls of wisdom and stories to get you thinking with this icon.

Where to Go from Here

This book offers a practical hands-on approach to mindfulness. Being a workbook, we devote more space to exercises and less to the underlying theory of mindfulness. If you'd like a more detailed description of the mindfulness exercises and to experience a different set of guided audio meditations, you may also like Mindfulness For Dummies by Shamash Alidina (Wiley). If you're looking for a variety of techniques to help you relieve stress, check out Relaxation For Dummies by Shamash Alidina (Wiley). For more suggestions of a range of books, audio, films, websites, retreats and more, go to for an extra Part of Tens chapter: '(Nearly) Ten Ways to Expand Your Mindfulness Experience'. Head to to find the accompanying audio meditations mentioned in the book:

check.png Track One: Introduction (2 minutes)

check.png Track Two: Body scan meditation, Chapter 5 (25 minutes)

check.png Track Three: Sitting meditation (expanding awareness), Chapters 5 and 7 (20 minutes)

check.png Track Four: Mountain meditation, Chapter 9 (10 minutes)

check.png Track Five: Lake meditation, Chapter 3 (10 minutes)

check.png Track Six: Three-minute breathing space meditation, Chapter 6 (3 minutes)

Part I


pt_webextra_bw.TIF Go to to listen to audio meditations.

In this part . . .

check Explore the origins and benefits of mindfulness.

check Understand different types of meditation.

check Consider your goals and expectations for your mindfulness journey.

check Enjoy the many benefits of mindfulness, from the positive effect on your body to improving your concentration.

check Go to to listen to audio meditations.