While the concept of mindfulness seems simple, practice is something else altogether. Mindfulness practice requires us to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness practice involves training your mind to focus its attention purposefully, bringing it back in when you notice that it’s wandered off into distracting thinking patterns, and then developing an attitude of curiosity toward your experience in the practice moment.
- Take a seat. Find a space to practice where you will be free from distractions. Make sure your posture is upright and comfortable, yet alert. You can practice mindfulness either sitting or standing as long as your spine remains straight to help facilitate the flow of energy up the central channel in the body.
- Set a time limit. If you are just beginning practice, practice for five minutes a day. Eventually, work up to 15–20 minutes in the morning and another 20–30 min session before bedtime.
- Bring your awareness to your breath. Notice how it feels coming into the body with each inhale and exhaling out of the body on each exhale. You can place one hand over your heart center and the other on your lower belly, just about where it meets your hips.
- Count each breath in for four beats, hold for two beats, count one beat as you exhale. This practice will help to focus attention and bring awareness back when distraction occurs (which they will). You can also practice counting every inhale or every exhale, or practice counting the exhales only. You can practice this way for up to 20 minutes if you are just beginning practice.
- Gently return your attention back on the breath when distraction occurs. Distraction is normal and part of mindfulness practice; it’s what happens when we get lost in thought about things that happened yesterday or will happen tomorrow.
That’s it! That’s the practice.
Then the next day you’ll come back and do it again as kindly as possible.
You practice mindfulness because it is a practice, not a perfect performance. It’s ok to get distracted or wander into thinking patterns that don’t have anything to do with the present moment; this too shall pass and you will return back again aware of what’s happening in your body and mind right now.