We're going to invite you to give yourself 3 minutes of your time - which can actually be quite a substantial commitment. However, if you've come across this article, chances are that you're curious enough about mindfulness meditation to give yourself that time,..and at the end of the exercise, you may feel inclined to give yourself that time again.
The initial technique for developing mindfulness is simply to sit and follow your breath as it goes in and out. Invariably, your mind will wander from your breath in the present moment to thoughts of the past and future.
When you become aware that your mind has strayed from sitting and breathing, don’t take any forceful action. Just note where your mind has drifted (e.g. boredom, a future or past event, an incredible daydream) and gently bring it back. Simply let your wandering mind return home to the present moment. There’s no need to engage thoughts and emotions by trying to push them away or make them stay. Don’t get attached to them. Simply accept that a thought or emotion has emerged and let it pass. No matter how many times your mind drifts, allow your mind to return to observing your breath in the present moment.
The point of developing mindfulness goes beyond sitting and following your breath. Eventually, you hope to apply what you have learned in your first mindfulness practice to other areas of your life. You take your morning shower mindfully; play Angry Birds mindfully; listen in class mindfully; and study mindfully. You can consider anything you do meditation in action. It only requires that you follow the procedure for returning to the present that you learned in breath meditation. If you do this, you’ll find anything you do more satisfying and you'll perform more effectively and efficiently.
The only caveat is that although mindfulness is easy to understand intellectually, it is difficult to put into practice. It requires determination, commitment, and persistence. Our minds will always stray from where they should be, but we all have the capacity to bring them back. The basic guidelines have been provided above, the only two rules for mindful attention are (1) begin, and (2) continue.
We will be writing additional articles on the precise aspects of meditation here. When to do it, where to do it, what it is and what it isn't. But for now, just take 3 minutes. Set a timer, take a seat, soften/close your eyes, and follow the instructions above. Feel free to contact us with questions, and check back for more.