Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them to be good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience.
Below is a brief mindfulness exercise of five or six breaths. You can practice it many times throughout the day, anywhere, at any time. Making this exercise a habit, a part of your daily routine, means you are more likely to find it useful during periods of stress. Once you have learned to do it, try closing your eyes as you move through the steps. I encourage you to give it a try. Settle in and enjoy the process.
1. STEP OUT OF AUTOMATIC PILOT and become aware of yourself in the moment.
The first step is being aware, really aware, of what is going on with you right now. Be aware of what is going through your mind - what thoughts are around? As best you can, just note the thoughts as mental events. Note them, and then note the feelings that are around at the moment...in particular, turning toward any sense of discomfort or unpleasant feelings. Now, rather than try to push them away or shut them out, just acknowledge them, perhaps saying, "Ah, there you are, that's how it is right now." And similarly with sensations in the body... Are there sensations of tension, of holding, of resisting? Again, simply be aware of them, simply note them: "OK, that's how it is right now."
2. BECOME AWARE OF YOUR BREATHING for about a minute, or half a dozen breaths.
So, you've got a sense of what is going on right now. You've stepped out of automatic pilot.
The second step is to bring your awareness and focus to the movements of the breath. Now focus attention on the movements of your abdomen or other breath focus point such as the nostrils or roof of the mouth, the rise and fall of the breath...spending a minute or so to focus on the movement of the abdominal wall...moment by moment, breath by breath, so that you know when the breath is moving in, and you know when the breath is moving out. You're just binding your awareness to the pattern of movement in the breath - gathering yourself, using the anchor of the breath to really be present.
3. EXPAND YOUR AWARENESS TO YOUR WHOLE BODY and then to your environment.
And now, as a third step, allow your awareness to expand. As well as being aware of the breath, also include a sense of your body as a whole. Here you may gain a more spacious awareness...a sense of your entire body, including any tightness or sensations related to holding in the shoulders, neck, back, or face. In addition, expand your awareness to the space around you, noting colors, smells, and tactile sensations. Follow the breath as if your whole body is breathing. Continue breathing in this slightly softer and more spacious awareness. And then, when you are ready, just allow your eyes to open and mindfully continue with your daily activity.
You may also be interested in the website: calm.com, where you will find brief guided and non-guided meditations that can enhance your practice of quieting your mind.