3 Step Mindfulness Made Easy
by Tobin Blake
Mindfulness is one of the most powerful, yet simple, spiritual practices I have ever used. It can be fully life changing, and I recommend it to everyone as an essential life tool, even those who are not particularly spiritual.
Mindfulness is a remarkable stress reliever. While it is often used for formal, seated meditation, you can apply it almost anywhere, in any situation, and find instant clarity and peace.
To be mindful merely means to pay attention to something, ideally some immediate sensation. While just about any sensation will do, the most common form of mindfulness is to focus on the breath—one of the primary gateways to presence.
You could also root your attention on a sound, the feeling of the seat beneath you where it touches your body, or even the visual field surrounding you.
The act of placing your attention on a sensation instantly draws you out of the thinking mind and into the direct experience of the sensation itself, and by extension into the present here and now.
In order to master mindfulness, it is helpful to experiment with it during more structured meditative practice at first. These do not have to be extended meditations. Spending even a few minutes on the following exercise twice a day will help retrain your mind to step out of thought and into presence.
3 Step Mindfulness Meditation
- Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, and close your eyes.
- Now, focus on feeling the sensation of your breath entering and exiting your body. You can follow the entire respiratory cycle in and out, or you may prefer to focus on the point you first feel each breath—the tip of your nose or upper lip, for instance. Another technique is to pay attention to the rise and the fall of your chest and stomach as you breathe. Either way the goal is to feel the process directly and become one with it rather than to think about it.
- Whenever you realize that you have gotten caught up in some web of thoughts, gently but firmly draw your focus back to the feeling of your breath.
Pay particular attention to the moments between breaths and thoughts. Sense the quiet stillness in those instants, sense yourself merging with them, and try to let them expand. It is these moments through which you will realize the state of being, aka presence, which is the primary objective of mindfulness.
Once you become familiar with the art of connecting with your breath during meditation, try applying mindfulness during everyday situations too, especially stressful moments, which is when you will find it most useful.
Let me know if, and how, mindfulness works for you, and what you find easy and challenging about the practice. Has it helped you deal with a particularly difficult situation?