Counseling Center


Mind Full or Mindful

Do you feel stressed out?

Do you struggle to stay focused?

Do you spend too much time going over things that happened in the past?

Are you always thinking about what you have to do next?

Do you walk to class so focused on other things that you don’t notice what is going on around you?

Do you find yourself listening to friends with one ear while also thinking about something else?

If you answered yes to some of the questions above, you might benefit from increasing your mindfulness!

What is Mindfulness?

Outdoor shots of Pacific Northwest in Washington

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that.  It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”–Sylvia Boorstein

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment. Mindfulness practices can help challenge the ways that we can be stuck in automatic pilot–moving through our days with our minds in the past or the future while missing out on the present. Learning how to wake up and be present with mindfulness can be a powerful tool for reducing stress and connecting with our minds and bodies.  In fact, research shows that mindfulness can help with many areas of well-being, including reducing stress, increasing concentration and working memory, improving sleep, letting go of anxieties about the future, and being less stuck in thoughts about the past.

How Mindfulness Helps

Studies show that practicing mindfulness can help with a variety of concerns, from depression to chronic pain. How mindfulness practice produces these effects is a topic of a growing body of research. Current research suggests that practicing mindfulness can change connections in our brains in a way that helps our brain do a better job of tasks like staying calm and focusing.  For example, research has shown that people who practiced mindfulness meditation had less activity in their amygdala (the “fight or flight” center of the brain) and more activity areas of the brain associated with concentration, self-awareness, and shifting attention.

How automatic response are wired in the brain and how to change them using mindfulness:

How mindfulness works and the research support for mindfulness:


Be Mindful Now!

This video illustrates a practice that can help you use mindfulness in moments when you’re experiencing difficult thoughts:

Mountain Meditation: Guided Meditation to Increase Mindfulness and Acceptance

The Whole U Meditation Series has a variety of guided meditation exercises led by UW staff and faculty.

The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has a variety of free online guided mindfulness meditations


Practice Being Present

Calm. This app has a range of guided meditation exercises. The exercises cover the basics of mindfulness meditation, such as mindful breathing, in sessions that are only a few minutes. There’s also a library of calming music and a selection of “sleep stories” to help you fall asleep. For a subscription fee, you can unlock additional content including content focused on specific topics such as sleep and anxiety.

Liberate Meditation. A meditation app to support the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community in healing to thrive with love.

Headspace. This app uses animations to teach and illustrate the basics of mindfulness and meditation. The free version grants you a basic package of 10 days of guided meditation and a number of mini-practices. You can stick with the free package or upgrade with the student discount plan for $9.99 per year.

Insight Timer. This app has a large library of guided meditations, including those focused on mindfulness. There’s also a world map that shows you how many people are meditating at any time, and you can invite friends to join in with you to talk about mindfulness topics.

Smiling Mind. This app has 10 modules of mindfulness training. Each module focuses on a theme with meditations and activities to help you establish a regular practice. It also has a variety of brief 1-3 minute meditations.

Fluid Dynamics. Drawing colors on the screen using your finger that then swirl and drain away can help you be mindful in the moment.