A Simple Mindful Practice
Sit in a comfortable position.
Focus your attention on your breath, just as it is.
When you get distracted, bring your attention back to your breath.
Do this for about 10 minutes, once or twice a day.
Breathing is a gentle rhythm that relaxes us when we pay attention to it. The first western researchers who studied meditation back in the 1950’s and 60’s were looking for the “active ingredient” in meditation that helped people relax. They found that one of the key elements was repetition, being aware of the gentle rhythm of breathing or of repeating a mantra. Think about how you feel when you’re near a lake or ocean listening to the waves come in. When you pay attention to the slow rhythm of your breathing, your mind and body naturally let go of tension and relax.
This practice also involves turning attention away from distractions back to your breath. Distractions in daily life are sometimes hard to ignore, and often keep us from paying attention to what’s important in the moment: the person in front of us, the task that requires our complete concentration, or something else that genuinely matters. The thoughts and feelings we're distracted by are often distressing or stressful in themselves, as well. In this particular mindful practice, we consider every thought, sound and sensation (except for our experience of breathing) to be a distraction, no matter how insistent or important that thought may ordinarily be. By shifting attention from that distraction back to our breath, we weaken our
habit of being distracted and it becomes easier to concentrate. We also turn away from thoughts and feelings that may be increasing our stress or distress. Finally, we start to adopt a frame of mind that allows us to make a choice about what we pay attention to, and we practice making that choice.
What to expect
After a few weeks of this simple mindful practice, most people start to notice some changes. Perhaps you’ll be less angry when you’re driving and someone cuts you off in traffic, or more patient at work, or better able to appreciate the people in your life. Or you may find it easier to do everyday chores without so much inner struggle, or get greater satisfaction from work you enjoy. If you’re in chronic pain or discomfort, you may find it easier to stay focused on the things you want to do and not have your activities impaired as much by your pain.
And there's more
Over time, this daily practice will reduce stress, improve relationships and help you cope with life's difficulties. There's much more to say about it, and there are ways to make it more effective and useful for specific issues and situations. You are welcome to join a class or schedule a personal consulting session to learn more.
You are also welcome to click on this link to review a free sample of my new ebook, Simply Mindful: A Daily Practice to Reclaim Your Life. The 145-page ebook in PDF format is available for $10 at the link below.