Basic mindfulness meditation
This exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.
Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad.
If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.
Learning to stay in the present
A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you to stay in the present and fully participate in your life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering or walking. Attending to these points will help:
Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
Now breathe out through your mouth
Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.
When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.
Gently redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydreaming, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.
Try and try again. If you miss your intended meditation session, simply start again.
By practicing accepting your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.
Invest in yourself
The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you do, the more effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start.
If you’re ready for a more serious commitment, we recommend 45 minutes of meditation at least six days a week. But you can get started by practicing the techniques described here for shorter periods.
“If we don’t know how to increase our awareness or how to control our mind, we have suffering, like everybody else. When we know how to increase our awareness, we have freedom, we have happiness.”