Mindfulness – your questions answered

Fatmata Kamara
Mental Health Nurse Global Case Manager
16 March 2023
Next review due March 2026

Mindfulness involves focusing your attention on the present moment. If you’ve heard of mindfulness or have recently started to practise it, you may have some questions about it. You might be wondering: how long should I practise it for and how often? When can I find time to practise? Does it get easier over time? And when will I start to notice the benefits? This article aims to help answer these common questions.

Feet lying on the grass

How long should I practise mindfulness for?

There are no set rules on how long each session should be. The advantage of this is that there are no rights and wrongs. Instead, you can create practices to meet your own needs. When you start practising mindfulness, most experts would suggest that any amount of time is better than none. And some would argue that the more you do the better the outcome. But right now, there’s no clear answer.

Most mindfulness programmes are run over an eight-week period. They usually involve an on-going daily practice of around 45 minutes. This can include doing a guided meditation or bringing a mindful approach to a daily activity such as eating or showering. This means paying full attention to the experience of eating or washing without any distractions from conversations, phones, watching TV or reading.

You could start your practice by taking a mindful moment right now. Make yourself comfortable and, slowly and gently, take a few deep breaths. Notice what it feels like to pause and breathe and be fully present with this experience. If you need a little bit more help getting started, follow the guided exercise below.

When can I find time for mindfulness?

For many people, one of the biggest barriers to practising mindfulness is time – there never seems to be enough. But there are lots of opportunities to find a mindful moment, for example when you’re brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, eating, or walking the dog. Even if you only have a very small amount of time, it can be helpful to try and get into a routine with mindfulness. So, try to make a realistic commitment and be consistent.

For me, 10 minutes of focused attention is more beneficial than setting an unrealistic promise to practise for longer.

Does mindfulness get easier with practice?

At first, you might struggle to focus during mindfulness. Life gets busy and taking time to stop and focus your attention on the present moment might not come naturally. Like all things that are good for us such as eating more fruit and veg and drinking enough water – if we make a habit of them, they are more likely to continue.

The key is to start small and link your new behaviour to something that you already do. For example, each time you brush your teeth, make it mindful. It may feel difficult at first, but over time (and with a bit of persistence) it should become more automatic.

Learning how to practise mindfulness and making it part of your way of life can be tricky too. In my own work, I often hear people saying that it feels silly, pointless, or frustrating. This is not unusual when engaging in a new practice.

Think of it like starting to run. When you begin, you may find that you can only run a short distance before you become out of breath or notice a cramp. As you practise more and more, however, this distance increases. You get better at running and it starts to become more natural for you. The same is true of mindfulness. The more you practise, the better you’ll get at it.

When will I see the benefits?

If we have too many expectations of what we should experience or how we should feel, it can distract us from being mindful. Try not to focus on all the benefits you hope to gain when practising mindfulness. Instead, it may be more helpful to try it with an attitude of curiosity and interest. This way, you’ll allow yourself to notice how it feels and then later reflect on any benefits that may happen.

The benefits of mindfulness may be small, but they build up over time. For example, when you feel stressed at work, pause to focus on your breath for a few moments. This may help you deal with the situation in a calmer manner. If you get angry while stuck in traffic, pausing to notice this emotion and being mindful of it may help. You can then make an active choice about whether to act on this emotion or reconsider the situation and respond in a different, and more helpful way.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Fatmata Kamara
Fatmata Kamara (she/her)
Mental Health Nurse Global Case Manager



Julia Ebbens, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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