5 Easy Steps to Start a Mindfulness Practice

mindfulness practiceIn a recent post I mentioned the mental and physical benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice.  But if you don’t have experience with meditation or mindfulness, incorporating a practice into your daily life can seem daunting.

In his book, Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn makes recommendations on how to get started on establishing a mindfulness practice in your life.

  1. Start with your breathing.  Do an experiment for a few minutes on paying attention to your breathing.  Watch your mind.  Does it wander away and come back over the course of those few minutes?  Set aside 5-10 minutes a day to pay attention to your breathing.  You can do this sitting or lying down or in any comfortable position.
  2. Practice every day. You can continue to focus on your breathing or read books or listen to CD’s on the topic to get ideas for your mindfulness practice.  I will include a few resources at the bottom of this post.
  3. Bring awareness to routine activities, such as waking up, shopping, washing dishes or answering email.  Pick one routine a week and try to be fully engaged in it when you do it every time.
  4. Bring your awareness to your body.  You can bring your attention to your body through yoga exercises or through a body scan, in which you slowly scan your attention through all the regions of your body, noticing any tensions, pain or other sensations.
  5. Now that you’ve started a practice, make a decision about when, where and how long you want to practice on a regular basis.  Consider taking courses, reading or watching video’s about mindfulness to increase your knowledge and help you find ways to incorporate it into your life in a way that is helpful to you.

Mindfulness practice can have both mental and physical health benefits. Like many healthy habits, getting started can be the hardest part.

Resources:

Full Catastrohpe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hahn

The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hahn

Mindfulness is Plain English, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

A Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Workbook, Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein

Mindfulness for Beginners Audio CD, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Photo by Sergiu Alistar, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

One Reply to “5 Easy Steps to Start a Mindfulness Practice”

  1. This is a useful lead to getting started. I would add one comment which I think is vital to instituting a practice. When we set out – and particularly if we start to carve out a specific time to practice – we get interrupted by all sorts of demands; our own “I have got to do this instead……” – or others asking for our time. Until we establish a “discipline” – even if it’s five minutes outside the office at lunch time – we are going to find reasons not to do it “just yet”.
    When we start a practice, we have to get into the habit. Perhaps we also need to get out of other habits! Certainly we are going to have to “train” family and friends not to tread on our time to ourselves.
    The benefits in terms of stress reduction begin to come after quite a short time. The benefits in improved stress management take a bit longer and continue to accrue as time passes.
    All this sounds like putting obstacles in the way of a beginner. No, that’s not what I am saying.
    What I am saying is we will make mistakes; not do what we promised ourselves we would do; get distracted, have a “bad session” (although there is never a bad session); feel bored, impatient or whatever. But a golden rule is to be kind to yourself, not beat yourself up. In other words, treat yourself with the compassion with which you would treat a friend who was trying to do something. OK you’re only human, we all get it wrong and when we are doing any new thing we get it wrong more times than not. How would you treat your child if they were learning to ride a bike. Christine Neff suggests that we follow the breath with a small smile on our faces – a smile of acceptance and affection. Even managing to get three minutes sitting on the toilet is a start …….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *