In an increasingly overstimulating (and let’s face it, rage-inducing) world, it’s never been more important to find ways to protect your peace. 

Words by Hannah Vanderheide, at body+soul.


Do you catch yourself turning blind with rage at the sight of your partner’s dirty plate in the sink? Stopped just short of flipping the bird at that guy who cut you off this morning? Firstly, fair enough that guy was a jerk, secondly, now might be a good time to take control of your calm.

Start by taking a deep breath through your nose. Okay, now slowly let it out through your mouth. You just meditated! Nice one.

Now that you’re halfway to becoming Gandhi himself, let’s take a deeper look at the hype around mindfulness meditation and explore some expert-backed approaches to making mindfulness your thing this year.


So, what is ‘mindfulness’? 

It’s easy to dismiss mindfulness as one of those woo-woo buzzwords influencers like to throw around when they’re busy trying to sell you something. But the truth is much simpler (and cheaper) than you might think.

With roots in Buddhism, the practice has been around for thousands of years, and the breadth of its benefits is still being uncovered. It’s now used across religious and secular spaces as a means for enhancing wellbeing and controlling the body’s physical and emotional stress response.

In its simplest form, mindfulness involves cultivating a non-judgemental awareness of our thoughts, feelings and environment to better regulate our nervous system response.

“Mindfulness practices are like hitting the reset button for your brain,” says Heidi Horne, happiness and mindfulness speaker, mindset specialist and meditation coach.

“In our fast-paced world, our minds can often feel like they’re overloaded with sticky notes, or like we have too many tabs open on a computer, leading to what’s often called ‘monkey mind’ – a state of constant, restless thinking. Mindfulness offers a moment to pause and reconnect with ourselves,” she explains.


Pic via Getty Images.


How can mindfulness help? 

“Meditation for me was a total game changer for my nervous system,” says Rich Muir, a stress-reduction and meditation teacher from Eden Health Retreat in sunny Queensland. In his 30s, he was hit with chronic fatigue (ME/CFS), and after going down multiple rabbit holes to find something that helped, Muir says meditation proved to be vital in providing his nervous system with the “deep rest” it needed.

“I also love seeing the impact it has on others,” he shares, “it can be profound when people start to realise how much power they have in controlling their nervous system.  To see someone crippled by stress and anxiety within weeks, gain a new lease on life as they learn to avoid triggering the stress response in situations that do not warrant it.”

Muir’s experience is not unique, a meta-analysis of 20 studies relating to the impact of mindfulness interventions on chronic health conditions found that mindfulness-based stress reduction practises have had a positive impact on chronically ill populations.

Research has also shown mindfulness can reduce emotional exhaustion and improve overall job satisfaction – one of the many reasons Horne grounds her corporate coaching in the principles of mindfulness. “It’s not just about reducing stress,” she explains. “It’s about enhancing our overall well-being, boosting our focus, and even improving our relationships”.

Beyond stress reduction, Horne says some of the many benefits of mindfulness include improved mental clarity, emotional intelligence (and, importantly, emotional regulation), and greater peace and overall well-being – sounds pretty bloody good to me!


Okay, I’m sold, where do I start?

One of the beautiful things about mindfulness is how accessible it is, it doesn’t cost anything to start, and it can be as simple as a few minutes per day.

“Life is busy! But stress management is crucial,” says Horne. “Here’s a simple tip: start small. Integrate mindfulness into your existing routines. For instance, take a few deep breaths before you check your email in the morning.

“While you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, try a quick body scan to notice any tension. During your commute, instead of scrolling through your phone, listen to a calming podcast or just focus on your surroundings. These small moments of mindfulness can add up, creating pockets of calm in your day without requiring extra time.”


Mindfulness exercises to suit your lifestyle

Below, Heidi Horne shares five of her go-to mindfulness moves to get us started. These can all be performed for as little as a few minutes, so they’re ideal for even the busiest among us.

The 4-7-8 Breath

  1. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat 3-4 times.


  • Reduces anxiety – this breathing technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm the mind and reduce stress.
  • Improves sleep – practising 4-7-8 breathing before bedtime can promote relaxation and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Regulates the nervous system – by slowing your breathing and heart rate, this technique can help regulate the nervous system, contributing to overall well-being.


Pic via Getty Images.


Box breathing


  1. Inhale for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold for 4 seconds.
  3. Exhale for 4 seconds.
  4. Hold for 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat for a few cycles.


  • Enhances focus – box breathing helps to centre your mind and improve concentration, making it a great tool for stressful situations or before a big presentation.
  • Balances emotions – this technique helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which can stabilise mood and enhance emotional resilience.
  • Increases oxygenation – by controlling your breathing, you increase the efficiency of oxygen exchange, which can boost overall energy levels.


Grounding exercise – five senses


Sit or Stand quietly and notice:

  • 5 things you can see.
  • 4 things you can touch.
  • 3 things you can hear.
  • 2 things you can smell.
  • 1 thing you can taste.


  • Brings you to the present moment – this exercise helps to anchor you in the here and now, which is especially useful during moments of high stress or anxiety.
  • Reduces overthinking – by focusing on your senses, you can break the cycle of rumination and give your mind a break from constant thinking.
  • Enhances sensory awareness – this practice helps to sharpen your awareness of your surroundings, which can improve mindfulness and overall well-being.


Progressive muscle relaxation


Simply move through your body part by part, tensing and then relaxing each muscle group from your toes to your head.


  • Releases physical tension – this technique systematically targets and releases tension held in various muscle groups, promoting overall physical relaxation.
  • Promotes relaxation – by focusing on the contrast between tension and relaxation, this practice helps to enhance your awareness of physical sensations and deepen your state of relaxation.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety – progressive muscle relaxation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to calm the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Improves sleep quality – regular practice can lead to better sleep by reducing muscle tension and calming the nervous system before bedtime.


What if I’m too busy to meditate?

By now you might have picked up that becoming a master of mindfulness begins with just a few minutes out of your day.

Muir is a big believer in starting to prioritise meditation before our stress hits a critical point. “This practice acts like a release valve,” he explains, “it’s crucial to start now, before our bodies reach a breaking point, requiring more drastic measures to ‘fix the car once it’s blown a head gasket.’”

As we go about our daily lives, Muir says a lot of us are unknowingly “over-breathing” which can put unnecessary strain on our nervous systems. To combat this, he suggests bringing it back to one of the fundamentals of mindfulness practice.

“One of the simplest things people can do at any time is bring their awareness to their breath, especially in stressful situations. Slow down your breathing, focusing on slow inhales and longer exhales. By controlling our breath, we can significantly reduce stress and promote calm.”


Read More:

Turns out mouth breathing can actually change the shape of your face

Why breathing through your mouth can make you seriously sick

What is Kapal Bhati Pranayama, the ancient breathing technique that may help you lose weight?


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