Learning mindfulness meditation is really very simple. If you’ve tried it before and found it difficult or frustrating, you may have had the wrong idea about what it is.
The most important thing to know is what it is not. It is not about making something happen. It’s not about trying to relax, or feel good, or change anything about yourself in any way. It’s simply about allowing yourself to be quietly present with whatever you happen to be experiencing.
use an image throughout the site that can help you understand what the
experience of mindfulness is like. The image was developed by Dan
Siegel and he calls it the Wheel of Awareness.
In brief, the experience of mindfulness meditation can be compared to being calmly and quietly seated at the hub of a wheel while everything you experience (your thoughts, sensations, emotions, all that you see, hear, smell, and touch) is happening out on the rim of the wheel.
You’re aware of what’s happening on the rim, but it doesn’t disturb you. It doesn’t disturb you because you’re not judging it, and you’re not trying to make it other than what it is. We call this experience “remembering to be.”
you practice mindfulness, over time you’ll begin to notice that your
mind is constantly looking for stimulation “somewhere else” – that is,
somewhere other than where you are and what you’re experiencing in the
moment. You may find your mind dwelling on a conversation you recently
had, or going over and over a mistake you think you made. You may see
scenes from a movie or TV show you’ve watched, or your mind may start
planning or worrying about something you need to do next week.
And so what do you do with these thoughts?
Nothing. You don’t have to do anything at all. Just let them come and go without your interference – like clouds that come and go in the sky.
doing nothing seems too hard, there are a couple of “techniques” you
can use to help let the thoughts go and free you to focus on your
Simply count each time you
inhale and exhale. As you inhale, count “1”. When you exhale, count
“2”. Inhale “3”. Exhale “4”. Continue until you get to “10,” then
start again with “1”.
That’s it. If you lose count, don’t spend even a second being the least bit concerned about it – just go right back to “1.”
Breathing with Words:
“Hear” (or silently repeat) a word or pair of words as you inhale and exhale. For example, as you inhale silently say relax, and as you exhale, silently say peace.
If, after doing the technique for a while, your mind begins to feel focused, you can let go of the technique and return to simply ‘feeling” the breath flow in and out, just being with whatever you’re experiencing without judging or trying to change it.
point in your practice, as you learn to ignore the thoughts that come up
and “remember to be,” you may get a glimpse of what it’s like to have
no worries about the past or future, to be free of the gnawing sense
that you need to be different, or that you need something or someone
else to be different in order to feel happy. That glimpse can be so
powerful that you'll feel motivated to keep practicing.
If you’d like to be guided through a mindfulness meditation,
there are guided audio and videos available in our Store.
experience of going through your day seated in the hub of your wheel of
awareness, being mindfully present to whatever is happening in and
around you, is what we call living from the core. The “core” is just
another word for “hub” and it refers to an inner experience of calm,
contentment, and non-reactivity in the midst of outer activity. Your
mid-prefrontal cortex and heart brain are more active, enabling you to
think more clearly, feel more deeply, and have more access to the wisdom
and intuition your heart brain can offer.
Quite naturally, you begin to experience yourself and others with greater kindness and compassion. You feel more connected to the larger world of people and events, and your actions more naturally flow from a genuine feeling of goodwill and helpfulness.
Remember to breathe is our shorthand way of saying: Take a moment to pause in the midst of your day to connect to your core, and then allow its calm, clarity, and goodwill to express through you as you return to whatever you were doing.