Initial Research into Mindfulness

A map for mindfulness ( mental health and well being)


National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 5280795, Cholecalciferol. Retrieved February 28, 2021 from  by Alicia Nortje PhD

Laura Shema (above) and below

Robert Plutchnik’s Wheel of emotions above

Below “Flow” psychology devised by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a Hungarian-American psychologist. He recognised and named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.[1][2] He is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University California. He named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.

Mindfulness in  Art

Painting “The rare jubilation clatters” Ted x video also on YouTube and same info discussed below  Dr Sara Lazar , Harvard neuroscientist


— lights out —

fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance — Healing
all my sicknesses — erasing all — not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it out, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes — and
with joy you realize for the first time
“Thinking’s just like not thinking —
So I don’t have to think

Podcast  The Art of Slow Looking – A Mindful exploration of art. Podcast

The Art of Slow Looking

In-text: (, 2021)

Your Bibliography:, 2021. The Art of Slow Looking. [podcast] The Art of Slow Looking. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 March 2021].

Dr Rebecca Chamberlain, Lecturer in Psychology, Goldsmiths

“One way that art can be beneficial for mental health and wellbeing is through allowing you to access the states of flow which keep you in the moment, and help to keep out intrusive sometimes negative thoughts. It underpins a lot of work in the treatments of conditions like anxiety….Anxiety is characterised by intrusive, panicky, worried thoughts and in being involved in an activity that really absorbs  you, you are able to put those thoughts to one side. We know  that art-making does that … I believe that going into the gallery … in  this space that is inviting you to be completely absorbed in the experience, probably has the same kinds of impacts on wellbeing as well.”

What is mindfulness?


So how do you practice it?

Mindfulness consists of paying attention to one of three things; either our breath, physical sensations in the body or one of our senses. And gently bringing our attention back whenever the mind inevitably wanders off.

So, for example – in a 10 minute mindfulness practice we might sit, listen, keep listening to whatever sounds are happening around us, simply sitting…and listening… noticing sounds.

Sooner or later our mind will drift off into thinking mode – daydreams, worries, planning – and we’ll get to a moment when we realise that we’re no longer paying attention to the sounds and instead we’re thinking about something else altogether. This noticing is a moment of mindfulness.

When this happens we simply notice where the mind went to. So, we register the thought ‘Oh look, I’m thinking about that email I need to respond to.’ We simply notice it – and this is really important bit – without giving ourselves a hard time, we escort our attention back to where we had intended it to be (which in this example was listening to sounds). We keep returning our attention every time the mind drifts away. This could be a couple of times or could be 100 times. It really doesn’t matter; it’s the noticing and the returning that counts. And doing this gently, without self-criticism.


But there are other ways to be mindful. Throughout the day, stop and take notice of what’s happening using our senses. For example, when we’re on the bus we can close our eyes for a moment or two and notice all the different sounds around us. Or slow down and really taste the first three bites of our delicious sandwich before going back to responding to that email. Instead of automatically checking your phone every time you’re in a queue, look around and notice what you can see – details in architecture, different shades of green in nature or curious reflections in glass-fronted buildings. All these little pockets of pause throughout the day have been proven to gently reduce stress and anxiety.

Why is mindfulness good for our health and wellbeing?

Paying attention to a sensory experience in this way enables us to observe our thoughts as they arise in our minds, moment by moment. And this act of observing thoughts can dramatically change our relationship to them. No longer automatically acting on them or accepting their validity but rather seeing them for what they are, thoughts.


And this is the cornerstone to good mental health and wellbeing.

We might think that becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings would not be a good or helpful thing to do, especially if we’re stressed or feeling down. In fact, it might seem better to ignore them or spend our energy on finding ways to rid ourselves of them. But this is not the case. What we resist, persists.

What does the science tell us?

Studies have shown that over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing.


Clinical trials performed by Oxford University have proven that mindfulness can be extremely effective in preventing depression. But you don’t have to be clinically unwell to benefit from it; it also helps people to respond to the stresses of modern life too. Many of us are anxious, exhausted, the demands of life can be overwhelming. We rush around from one task or obligation to the next and our minds and emotional systems experience little respite from all the external demands on our attention.

Neuroscientists have shown changes in the brain that occur when people practice mindfulness; one of which includes improving your brain’s ability to manage stress.

MRI scans have shown that after an 8 week course of mindfulness meditations the amygdala (the brain’s fight, flight or freeze centre) appears to shrink.  This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. Brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen also found increased grey matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory.

The images show a reduction of grey matter in the amygdala, the region connected to anxiety and stress.

Calmer, happier, more creative…

The practice of mindfulness can have an incredibly positive impact on our lives. Not only can our mood lift but our memory and ability to learn improves, creativity increases and we are able to focus and concentrate better than before. Our emotional systems experience some much needed respite, our stress levels decrease which is good for our health, both physical and mental and this is good for our quality of life.

We’re more curious. We’re more emotionally resilient and more compassionate to ourselves and to others. And, of course, we’re happier.

“Filter” by Antony Gormley Life size figure made from mild steel rings welded together with suspended cluster of metal balls inside located in the place of the heart. Figure attached on lower back to suspension wire cable for hanging

Display Label

Filter 2002 Antony Gormley born 1950. Flat mild steel rings London-born Antony Gormley has produced some of the most iconic sculptures of our time, including The Angel of the North at Gateshead and Another Place at Crosby Beach, Merseyside. Through his exploration of the human body as a place of memory and transformation, he has revitalised contemporary figurative sculpture. Gormley has made many sculptures in iron or lead from plaster casts of his own body. Here he uses engineering and assembling methods to express the relation of interior and exterior form. Filter is made of mild steel rings welded together. This ‘skin’ acts as both a container of the body and as a space for our own thoughts and feelings. The sculpture’s suspension suggests flight, levitation, or an ‘out of body’ spiritual experience. Inside is a form located in the place of the heart, symbolically associated with life, death and love. Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and the Livingstone and Bloom Charitable Trusts 2008.221

The Psychology of Flow By Kendra Cherry 

 Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD  Updated on January 13, 2021

If you have ever felt completely absorbed in something, you might have been experiencing a mental state that psychologists refer to as flow. Achieving his state can help people feel greater enjoyment, energy, and involvement.

Imagine for a moment that you are running a race. Your attention is focused on the movements of your body, the power of your muscles, the force of your lungs, and the feel of the street beneath your feet. You are living in the moment, utterly absorbed in the present activity. Time seems to fall away. You are tired, but you barely notice. This is an example of state of flow.

What Is Flow?

Flow is a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity.

While in this mental state, people are completely involved and focused on what they are doing.

“The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost,” Csíkszentmihályi said in an interview with Wired magazine.1

Flow experiences can occur in different ways for different people. It often occurs when you are doing something that you enjoy and in which you are quite skilled.

This state is often associated with the creative arts such as painting, drawing, or writing. However, it can also occur while engaging in a sport such as skiing, tennis, soccer, dancing, or running.

The Benefits of Flow

In addition to making activities more enjoyable, flow also has a number of other advantages such as:

  • Better emotional regulation: With increased flow, people also experience more growth toward emotional complexity. This can help people develop skills that allow them to regulate their emotions more effectively.
  • Greater enjoyment and fulfillment: People in a flow state enjoy what they are doing more. Because the task becomes more enjoyable, people are also more likely to find it rewarding and fulfilling.2
  • Greater happiness: Research also suggests that flow states may be linked to increased levels of happiness, satisfaction, and self-actualization.3
  • Greater intrinsic motivation: Because flow is a positive mental state, it can help increase enjoyment and motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves doing things for internal rewards.
  • Increased engagement: People in a flow state feel fully involved in the task at hand.
  • Improved performance: Researchers have found that flow can enhance performance in a wide variety of areas including teaching, learning, athletics,4 and artistic creativity.
  • Learning and skill development: Because the act of achieving flow indicates a substantial mastery of a certain skill, people have to keep seeking new challenges and information in order to maintain this state.
  • More creativity: Flow states often take place during creative tasks, which can help inspire greater creative and artistic pursuits.5

Characteristics of Flow

According to Csíkszentmihályi, there are ten factors that accompany the experience of flow. While many of these components may be present, it is not necessary to experience all of them for flow to occur:

  1. The activity is intrinsically rewarding.
  2. There are clear goals that, while challenging, are still attainable.
  3. There is a complete focus on the activity itself.
  4. People experience feelings of personal control over the situation and the outcome.
  5. People have feelings of serenity and a loss of feelings of self-consciousness.
  6. There is immediate feedback.
  7. People know that the task is doable and there is a balance between skill level and the challenge presented.
  8. People experience a lack of awareness of their physical needs.
  9. There is strong concentration and focused attention.
  10. People experience timelessness;, or a distorted sense of time, that involves feeling so focused on the present that you lose track of time passing.

The Neuroscience of Flow

What exactly happens in the brain when a person is in a flow

state? Research has found that there are changes in brain activity during flow states.6 Other research suggests that there is also an increase in dopamine activity when people are experiencing flow.7


While flow experiences can happen as part of everyday life,

there are also important practical applications in various areas including education, sports, and the workplace.

Flow In Creative Pursuits

Flow is perhaps most often associated with creativity. For example, a writer experiencing a state of flow may become so immersed in their work that hours fly by without them even noticing. The words flow easily and quickly. An artist might spend hours working on a painting, and emerge with a great deal of progress that seemed to fly by quickly.

Flow in Education

Csíkszentmihályi has suggested that overlearning a skill or concept can help people experience flow. Another critical concept in his theory is the idea of slightly extending oneself beyond one’s current ability level. This slight stretching of one’s current skills can help the individual experience flow.

Flow in Sports

Engaging in a challenging athletic activity that is doable but presents a slight stretching of your abilities is a good way to achieve flow. Sometimes described by being “in the zone,” reaching this state of flow allows an athlete to experience a loss of self-consciousness and a sense of complete mastery of the performance.

Flow in the Workplace

Flow can also occur when workers are engaged in tasks where they are able to focus entirely on the project at hand. For example, a writer might experience this while working on a novel or a graphic designer might achieve flow while working on a website illustration.

How to Achieve Flow

So what can you do to increase your chances of achieving flow? Ways to increase your chances of achieving flow:

  • Set clear goals: In his book, Csíkszentmihályi explains that flow is likely to occur when an individual is faced with a task that has clear goals that require specific responses. A game of chess is a good example of when a flow state might occur. For the duration of a competition, the player has very specific goals and responses, allowing attention to be focused entirely on the game during the period of play.

Eliminate distractions: It’s more difficult to experience flow if there are things in your environment competing for your attention. Try reducing distracting things in your environment so you can fully focus on the task at hand.

  • Add an element of challenge: “Flow also happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges,”8 Csíkszentmihályi explains. “If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.”
  • Choose something you enjoy: You aren’t likely to achieve flow if you are doing something you truly dislike. Focus on trying to achieve flow while working on something you love.

A Word From Verywell

Achieving a state of flow can be a great way to make the activities you pursue more engaging and enjoyable. Not only do people often perform better when they are in this state of flow, but they are also often able to improve their skills in that area. Fortunately, it is also a skill you can learn to achieve with practice.

It is important to remember that flow is a dynamic and ever-changing state. As your skill levels increase, you will need to continue to adjust the level of challenge that is needed to help initiate a state of flow.


How a State of Flow Can Aid Your COVID Well-Being

Claire Gillespie December 01, 2020

  • “A state of “flow” is when you lose yourself in a particular activity—one that is relatively challenging and lets you monitor your progress toward a specific goal.
  • Many people have reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • Researchers found that people who achieved a state of flow felt less lonely and more positive during stay-at-home orders.

For several months, we’ve been told what we need to keep ourselves—and each other—safe from COVID-19. Face masks, a constant supply of hand sanitizer, and more personal space than most of us are accustomed to, for starters. You can add patience and resilience to the list too—undoubtedly needed for getting through stay-at-home orders and coping with restrictions in all areas of life.

But there might be something else to add to our coronavirus toolbox: a state of flow. In fact, new research suggests that this may be the remedy for the emotional pressures of the pandemic era. More than 5,000 people who were quarantined in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak took part in the study, which was published in PLOS One in November.1

The Study Findings

Participants answered online survey questions about how many times in the previous week they’d felt utterly absorbed by whatever they were doing and to what extent they’d felt simultaneously stimulated and challenged—both important elements of flow. Researchers found that those who achieved a state of flow reported decreased loneliness and higher levels of positive emotion, even though they were staying home alone during their period of quarantine.

Those who were under lockdown for longer suffered more of a negative emotional impact. However, participants who experienced high levels of flow tended to cope better during the additional quarantine time.”

What Is Flow, Exactly–and How do We Find It?

“Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first coined the concept of mental “flow” to refer to stretches of time when someone is entirely focused on whatever they’re doing.2

“Flow is the feeling of being ‘in the zone’—completely absorbed in an enjoyable activity,” says Kate Sweeny, PhD, co-author of the PLOS One study and a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside. “Time flies by, and you barely notice your own thoughts or experiences outside of the activity you’re doing.”

Sweeny says the kinds of activities that are most likely to produce a state of flow are ones that challenge us the right amount (i.e. they’re not too easy or not too hard) and that allow us to track our progress toward a specific goal. “Video games are custom-made to create flow,” she adds. “But almost anything can be a flow activity if you pay attention to the level of challenge and note your progress along the way.”

Flow is good for our well-being under pretty much any circumstance, but it may be particularly helpful during stressful periods of uncertainty, when we just want time to pass a bit faster and to mute our worrisome thoughts.”


“Hobbies like playing music, cooking, painting, knitting, and gardening are all potential flow-inducers. Athletic pursuits, such as playing a sport, doing yoga, or going for a run, can also put people into a flow state.

And you don’t have to be particularly talented at any of those things to enjoy the benefits of flow. “The thing I love about flow is that anyone can experience it,” Sweeny says. “You don’t have to practice, you don’t have to learn anything new; you just have to put a little effort into challenging yourself and tracking your progress.”

It’s important to note that binge-watching a TV series or losing yourself in your favorite movie, while enjoyable, isn’t considered to be the same as being in a state of flow because it’s not an active state.”

Flow and COVID-19

“With two in five Americans struggling with mental health concerns and substance abuse during the pandemic (per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),3 now seems like as good a time as any to try to find our flow—although you don’t have to be under lockdown or in quarantine to reap the rewards.”

“Flow is good for our well-being under pretty much any circumstance, but it may be particularly helpful during stressful periods of uncertainty, when we just want time to pass a bit faster and to mute our worrisome thoughts,” Sweeny notes.

“Engagement in activities at home may represent people who have more opportunities and interest in the activities they can do at home, and so in that way it is not surprising that it is a direct predictor of well-being while stuck at home, during shelter in place.”


“Engagement in activities at home may represent people who have more opportunities and interest in the activities they can do at home, and so in that way it is not surprising that it is a direct predictor of well-being while stuck at home, during shelter in place,” says Elissa Epel, PhD, a professor and vice chair in the department of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco. “It is lovely to know that flow is protective to our well-being.

Although the PLOS One study findings are still fairly new, and researchers only established an association—not a cause-and-effect relationship—between flow and better mental health, experts agree that flow may be a powerful defense against the emotional burden of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.”

“The three points of awareness mind map highlights three simple steps to acknowledge and deepen present moment awareness.

The three steps are:

(1) Notice your thoughts
(2) Notice the life inside you
(3) Notice your surroundings

Step (1) Notice your thoughts

When you notice that you are thinking you become more present and alert. You can break free from thinking mechanically and begin to consider “what” you are thinking. The awareness of your thoughts allows you to choose where you put your attention and also helps you notice gaps in thought that offer moments of stillness and silence; freedom from incessant thinking. When you notice your thoughts you can then question your thinking, explore and clarify or drop unhelpful thoughts. Questioning your thoughts helps you break free from troubling or erroneous thinking.

Step one – “Notice your thoughts” need not result in analysis and questioning unless you wish to; simply become aware that you are thinking and it helps you become more present.

Step (2) Notice the life inside you

Become aware of the life in your body; it may appear as a cool or warm feeling or simply a “buzz”. Consider how your body is busy keeping you alive on your behalf; a beautifully orchestrated collection of miracles working in harmony to maintain your life. Heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, digestion and other internal organ functions all working tirelessly for your survival. Acknowledge and appreciate the process for a moment.
Step two – “Notice the life inside you” is simply to notice the buzz of life; the fact that you are alive in the moment.

Step (3) Notice your surroundings

Raise your awareness of where you are; enhance your senses and drink in your surroundings, whether you define or label what you see or acknowledge your surroundings silently. You might sense temperature, textures, shapes, light, shade, shadows and more.

Step three – “Notice your surroundings” is simply acknowledging where you are in the present moment.

The three steps used together bring you back to the present moment as opposed to operating mostly in your head.

Notice your thoughts, notice the life inside you and notice your surroundings. All three steps are easy to experiment with and experience. The more you explore these three key areas the more present you will become and in time, with practice, you will be able to detect sooner when you have forgotten the present moment. You could experiment with checking in on one area throughout your day. For example, you might spend a day paying complete attention to your surroundings. You may discover you feel like you are seeing your environment for the first time; observing greater detail and noticing things you never noticed before.

Here is an extract from a book called “Knowing Yourself” by Barry Long

“There is only one thing in your life you can be sure of. That one thing is this moment, now. The last moment has gone forever. The next moment has not come. It is an inescapable fact that only the moment, now, exists in relation to you. The future exists only in your imagination and that is why, no matter how hard you try to imagine it, you will not be able to tell the future”

The three points of awareness again:

(1) Notice your thoughts
(2) Notice the life inside you
(3) Notice your surroundings

Neuroscientists have been studying brainwaves – the popular name for the field of electroencephalography – for nearly a century.

Taylor, Richard & Newell, Ben & Spehar, Branka & Clifford, Colin. (2005). Fractals: A Resonance between Art and Nature. 10.1007/3-540-26443-4_6.

About forest bathing,  Environmental Psychology has gone a long way proving this fact (Bell, Greene, Fisher, & Baum, 1996)., This Article Contains:,physiological%20resonance%20within%20the%20eye.&text=Bringing%20nature%20and%20those%20repetitive,a%20calming%20effect%20on%20patients.

“Do you know that sense of calm and wellbeing that you feel after gazing at clouds or watching the branches of a tree sway in the breeze? It’s not just the fresh air that’s relaxing you, it’s something else called fractals — the repeating patterns found throughout nature, in trees, clouds, rivers, and coastlines. Artificial fractals, like those created by computers, have the same soothing effect.”

Viewing mid-range Fractals reduces your physiological response to stress by up to 60%.”
— R.P.Taylor, Professor of Physics, Psychology and Art, University of Oregon

There are many ways of practising mindfulness and it is an activity that everyone can do.

Which mindfulness practices work best for you, be that seated mindfulness meditation, mindful walking, drawing, eating, looking.[42639_PANUK_NLT_10_ENG_WomensDay2021_RET_O35]-20210309-[bbcnews_internationalwomensday2021illustratingthecovid19pandemic_coronavirus]

“How to heighten your senses

1 Close your eyes to enhance your hearing
2 Focus totally on your breath
3 Pinpoint experiences such as eating; concentrate on taste
4 Listen to a plant, tree or flower
5 Watch clouds drift and listen intently to birdsong
6 Look at a close object then a distant one and alternate focus
7 Study your hand – explore the detail and aging!
8 Smell deeply – differentiate between subtle odours
9 Touch with eyes closed – explore textures, surfaces, shapes
10 Close eyes and feel temperature of objects with hands
11 Close your eyes and sense individual body parts
12 Close your eyes and identify objects solely by touch
13 Close your eyes and try observing your pulse or blood flow
14 Gently pull your ears out and listen!
15 Feel the wind – really feel it with all the senses
16 Close your eyes and pass your hands through water
17 Drink and focus solely on the drinking
18 Eat slowly and taste every mouthful; flavours, seasoning, herbs, spices
19 Identify foods with your eyes closed
20 Close eyes and brush fingers lightly over arms sensing hairs not skin
21 Do the same on your face and hover slowly
22 Walk barefooted on carpets – sense each step
23 Walk barefooted on grass or concrete – sense each step
24 Walk and be conscious of every step as you plant your feet
25 Become aware of your entire body and “feel” with every cell
26 Bonus idea! Try every activity throughout your day with no thought and see how it heightens the experience”.   Taylor, R., Micolich, A. & Jonas, D. Fractal analysis of Pollock’s drip paintings. Nature 399, 422 (1999).


Romanesco Broccoli exhibiting the Fibonacci sequence.

Fractal shapes can be defined by simple mathematic rules that apply to a vast array of things that look visually complex or chaotic.  In a fractal patterns are repeating over and over in a loop ad infinitum which create images that appear to be chaotic but actually have order.  Fractals are familiar to us as they are found in everywhere in nature such as in clouds, waves, coastlines, shells, leaves, ferns, lightning, pine cones, snowflakes, mountains and flowers.  We are even made up of fractals.  Our lungs, capillaries, neurons and movements of the eyes’ retina as we scan our environment are in fractal patterns.

Physicist and artist Richard Taylor found through EEG measurements that people’s brainwaves indicated a relaxed state when they looked at fractal patterns that are commonly found in nature.  These types of fractal images engage us, lull us, make us self reflect, and awe us.  “The stress reduction is triggered by a physiological resonance that occurs when the fractal structure of the eye matches that of the fractal image being viewed.” Says Taylor referring to how our eyes are hardwired to understand fractals.

Knowing this, you may now look at nature in a whole new way.”

Roberta Faulhaber

“The Book As Art” by Krystyna Wasserman. These are books which are works of art in their own right, and probably not traditional books as we know them.

Artist Lisa Kokin