What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being fully present in the here and now, aware of what is going on in your head, your body, and your surroundings. It is seeing yourself seeing, feeling yourself feeling, and knowing what you are thinking at any given time. By practicing mindfulness, you can spend less time going through life fretting inside your own head and more time enjoying and appreciating the present moment and all the sensory delights of the world around you.
How to Get Started Practicing Mindfulness
The first (and pretty much only) thing you need to get started is a space to practice. Your space does not have to be large; it could be no more than a chair or a mat in one corner of your apartment. Also, your practice does not have to take up large amounts of time. Even five minutes each day will have a noticeable effect on your life. If you wish, feel free to add candles, incense, or other props to your sacred space, but keep in mind that these things are optional. The most important aspects of your space are that it is in a part of your home that you don’t use for anything else, and it is in a place where you will not be disturbed.
Once your space is set up you are ready to begin. Seat yourself comfortably either in a chair or on the floor, making sure your hips are higher than your knees (cushions or folded blankets are helpful for this). Sit with your back long from tail to crown, and place your hands symmetrically either on your knees or your lap.
Take a few deep, cleansing breaths to settle into your practice, and then allow your body to breath at its natural rhythm. Focus on your breath, how it feels as it enters your nose, your throat, your lungs. Notice the sensations as you exhale. When first starting out, you may notice that your mind tends to wander. That’s alright. Don’t be frustrated with yourself. When this happens, just notice the thoughts without judgement and let them go, returning your attention to the breath.
Do this until you feel complete, or until you have reached the duration you have set for yourself. With steady effort, you will become able to access these feelings of calm even in stressful situations, which will help you act rationally rather than react reflexively or emotionally.