Best Mindfulness Practices for Beginners

Here are three simple mindfulness meditations you can try at home, at work, or in your car.  Keep in mind that doing the same mindfulness practice every day is not as important as doing a mindfulness Sheffield every day.  Repetition is what helps us skillfully bring what we learn in these meditations into the moments of our lives. Try one, two, or all three. Just don’t try the walking meditation in your car.

  1. Mindful awareness of breathingis a basic practice. Reliable and informative, our breath is the perfect focus for practicing present moment awareness because it truly is something that we need do nothing about.  Our breath is always happening in the present moment – without our help – and we can choose to pay attention to it anytime, anywhere.  You can begin by practicing for approx. 5 minutes a day and increasing the duration over time.

Sit up straight so that your ribcage is lifted up off your abdomen.  You can sit comfortably on the floor with your back against the wall or in a chair.  Bring your awareness to your breath.  Let your attention follow your breath in and out of your body.  Notice if you feel it more strongly on the in breath or the out breath and whether you notice it more in certain parts of your body (e.g., nostrils, chest, abdomen).  At some point if (when) your attention drifts off to thought, emotion or some other sensation, gently bring it back to the breath.  Each time you notice that you’ve lost touch with your breath is a moment of mindful awareness that strengthens skillfulness.  Practice letting your experience be just as it is. 

  1. Observing present moment experienceis a helpful practice because in it, we become skilled at connecting to our experience, rather than to our mind’s judgments about our experience.

Begin by noticing your breath (you can follow the instructions above to get you started).  After a few minutes, open your awareness to sound.  Notice what you hear.  If you start naming the sounds, that’s OK.  The mind may do that.  Try to bring your awareness back to the experience of sound.  After a few minutes, and one by one, open your awareness to include your experience of sight, taste, thought, emotion, physical sensations then return to awareness of breath.  Again, your mind might name things or evaluate them (like this, don’t like that) or even try to distract you.  Stay with your present moment experience and just let it in.

A fun variation on this meditation is narrating present moment experience with a friend or family member

Sit across from each other and notice your breath.  Then take turns narrating what you notice right now in this moment, which is going to change from moment to moment.  For example, the first person might say “I notice a tingling in my hands.”  The second person would then speak to his or her present moment experience “I notice the light.”  “I notice my eye is blinking.” “I notice my stomach is growling.” And so on.  You can also do this exercise on your own, narrating your present moment experience out loud.

  1. Mindful moving, like walking, is helpful to get us out of our heads and into of our bodies.  Awareness of our physical being is important because our bodies are so much more than transportation for our brains, just as we are so much more than our thoughts and feelings.

In walking meditation, as in other meditations, you are not trying to get anywhere. You are just trying to be fully present wherever it is that you happen to be in this moment, and in this one. You can walk in your house or yard, on the street or in a park, even in a supermarket. The practice is simply to walk and as you do, to pay attention to your body as it moves and to meet whatever comes up (thought, emotion, sensation) with kindness rather than judgment. You can focus on sensation of your foot as it meets and leaves the ground; or on parts of the movement such as lifting and placing your foot or shifting your weight; or on the movement of your whole body.

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