"Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment"

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading researcher in the field of mindfulness

What is mindfulness and why does it matter?

Mindfulness helps people to be aware of their natural tendencies and gives them pause to change their reaction.

Using mindfulness techniques to teach Aikido principles increases positive psychological functioning in children and young adults. It develops positive coping skills and better mental health by creating space to think, space to breathe, and space between themselves and their reactions.

Mindfulness practice is a great tool for reducing bullying. It helps the bully, victim, and any witnesses to develop resilience, compassion, a deeper awareness of themselves, and the ability to regulate their emotional responses. Bringing mindfulness into your life can help you make wiser decisions in real life situations, as well as recognize and let go of negative thoughts that affect your mental focus.

SOFA skill to link mindfulness practice and Aikido principles

The SkillAi team developed the mindfulness practice of SOFA – a comforting skill for stressful moments.

SOFA can be used to introduce mindful experience during Aikido practice. It can be practiced during the day when children need it most. SOFA's purpose is to take the mind off of autopilot to check in on how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and what behaviour you are engaging in.

SOFA is an acronym that stands for:


Stop and take a breath, feel your feet on the ground, and bring attention to the center.

The breath is an anchor to the present moment and bridge between the mind and the body.


Notice what is happening. What is happening inside you and outside of you? Where has your mind gone? What do you feel, and is there an emotion that affects your body?


Focus on your center and set your intention. Ask yourself, what matters most to you? What would you like to align yourself with? What do you want to accomplish?


Act according to your intention. Use the information gained during this procedure to adjust course. Whatever you do (or don't) – proceed mindfully.

Benefits of mindful practice

Usually we pay little attention to our experience. Rather, we are swept away by thoughts and feelings, external events, interactions with others, or memories about the past and hopes and fears about the future. Most of the time we are on automatic pilot, caught up in our experience and reacting automatically, especially when we are under pressure. In contrast, staying consciously aware of what is happening allows us to see and experience things “as they really are” and have choice over how we respond.

With mindfulness, we deliberately observe and accept what is happening right now in our bodies, minds, and the world around us. In experiential terms, mindfulness has a calming and centring effect. By focusing on an object such as the breath, the busy, buzzing, sometimes scattered mind, becomes clearer. In this state, sensations, thoughts, and feelings enter consciousness awareness, but their obsessive or “hooked” quality is reduced when they are observed with interest and curiosity and then let go. Reduced anxiety and a sense of calm arise from not judging what goes on in the mind or in the external world, but simply accepting the experience as it is.

The mindfulness practice of learning to respond, rather than to react, could enhance the sense of autonomy or self-determination through the increased ability to make choices. Increased choice can lead to a greater sense of self-efficacy, whereas competence can be increased through the training of attention regulation. The awareness and acceptance of our thoughts and feelings, including painful ones, may have direct benefits for emotion regulation, which is a key part of resilience.

Benefits of mindfulness for interpersonal relationships may derive from several aspects of the practice. Responding, rather than reacting, may reduce negative interpersonal behaviours, such as anger or aggression. Increased awareness of other’s behaviour and feelingsmay lead to greater appreciation of positive behaviours. Further, it is often said that being kinder and more accepting of oneself leads to great kindness, acceptance, and empathy towards others.

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