If you’re wondering how to start mindfulness meditation in your daily life, then you’re at the right place. Our Mindfulness In 7 Steps is a quick and easy guide to learn and start your mindfulness practice within the shortest possible time.
It’s smart and effective, yet brief and simple. And it’s also one of the most accessed step-by-step beginner-level guide to mindfulness meditation in the world.
Once you master this into a habit, you could start mini-workshops to teach Mindfulness In 7 Steps technique to others. By the way, any new habit takes around 66 days to build, like a daily exercise habit.
Get a print version (PDF) of this 7-Step Mindfulness Guide for free. Find the download link inside the Final Words section.
Mindfulness: Definition, Meaning, And Being Mindful
• Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment with an attitude of openness, curiosity, non-judgment, and acceptance.
The most vital parts of that definition are curiosity and non-judgment. While you’re curiously aware of your passing thoughts, you must make sure you also examine them without any judgment.
• At its simplest, when thoughts and emotions arrive in your mind, but you let them pass without getting carried away, you’re in mindfulness.
Being mindful is being into a state of focused awareness of the present moment, dragging your mind away from the future and the past.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author the bestseller Full Catastrophe Living, the most famous Western researcher on mindfulness meditation, and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, explains it in following words:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, to the present moment, and without judgment.
Meditation is mental training to improve the ability to focus your attention and control your emotions. There are many ways to meditate. Mindfulness meditation is one of them.
One thing, all mindfulness is not meditation. Also, all meditation is not mindfulness.
Throughout the existence of humans, for thousands of years, people have used mindfulness techniques to build awareness into the present moment with calm acceptance — to deal with the stresses of life. The Buddhist teachers methodically codified it as a practice of meditation.
You can be mindful in many ways. You don’t always have to meditate to practice mindfulness. You can also engage in mindfulness without meditating — as mindful eating, mindful walking, and mindful listening.
We all slip into the set-patterns of mind and body, so much so that time after time we’re not present for our own lives. Ever so often, we are in one place, and our minds are at someplace else. An effective solution to this habit of uncontrolled “tuning-out” and “mind-wandering” is the practice of mindfulness.
It means you are paying attention to, and conscious of, what’s happening around you and inside you.
So, all of us can practice mindfulness and learn to become more present. All we have to do is pay close attention to the present moment and encourage ourselves to be with what exists in the now and here.
Mind-Wandering: Edginess In Modern-Day (Your Monkey Mind)
Have you ever realized that attempting to stay peaceful and relaxed just before an extremely challenging event has a typically opposite effect — it uploads an additional bulk of agitation into you?
Did it happen to you that trying to get rid of your irksome habit often appears so hard — like an unhappy habit of procrastination — that you almost mark it as impossible?
Does it get to you that a deeply satisfying state of happiness, a state of all-around wellbeing and true joy, often remains elusive, despite living a fortunate life?Does it get to you that a deeply satisfying state of happiness often remains elusive, despite having a fortunate life? Click To Tweet
These, and other such difficult situations we often find ourselves in today’s world, have been traced to a change that happened in the brains of our earliest ancestors — which they passed down to us. It was a tendency of the humans to go after pleasure and block out pain, that got biologically hardwired into the brain. We call this the Pain-Pleasure principle.
Evolutionary science hints this automatic behavior pattern got hardwired into our earliest predecessors as a survival mechanism. (By the way, we have a neuroplastic brain, which means our brain can literally reshape itself.)
If they didn’t run from pain, they wouldn’t have survived. And to run from possible pain, they were always looking out for dangers. That jungle-living ancestor’s mind was always on this mode:
What’s wrong here that can cause me pain?
Ever since, we are on a constant watch looking out for what could go wrong around us, even in modern-day. It is this that lies as the foundation of many of the psychological issues we routinely face in the modern world.
It’s this hypervigilance, and our harmful habit of self-criticism, we need to tone down first for thriving in today’s chaotic world.
If you’re looking for the 5 best offbeat, but specific books on mindfulness, check them here.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness will help you take away that edginess from your mind. Regular practice of mindfulness meditation reduces stress, anger outbursts, and overthinking (if you think too much all the time, learn here how to stop it).
It also increases self-awareness, fulfillment and happiness. Among other benefits, studies have demonstrated decidedly that people who practice mindfulness have:
- improved their health and overall quality of life,
- reduced their depression and anxiety,
- increased their concentration, and
- achieved stronger ability to cope more effectively with day-to-day stresses.
There are scientific proofs to its effects. No less than 21 brain-scan studies over a decade have revealed that long years of mindfulness practice restructures parts of our brain — especially these three areas:
- medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)
- right anterior insula (RAI)
- anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)
Studies also showed while long-term stress shrinks our hippocampus (memory center of brain), mindfulness training increases grey-matter density in the same area.
Come to think of it, the positive mindset changes of mindfulness practice happen right at our brain level, which is remarkable.Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and openness, but without judgment. Click To Tweet
How To Practice Mindfulness In 7 Steps: Easy Guide For Beginners
- First, find a comfortable place where you can focus and will not be disturbed or interrupted.
- Decide how long you’re going to dedicate. Set a timer. You can meditate as short or as long as you like.
- Start with shorter periods, around 5-10 minutes. Tip: 10 min of 24-hours is just 0.7% of your day.
- Now, place yourself in a posture that is both relaxed and alert, with your back reasonably straight.
Step By Step: Mindfulness In 7 Steps To Start Practice
It may not come to you easy to follow the steps just as you’re instructed, but with a little patience and practice, you’d become good at it. Another thing: do not postpone it till tomorrow. Try it today, as soon as you finish reading the guide. What it would do is give you a headstart. It may be imperfect, but you’d be one day of practice ahead.
So, after you have gone through this guide, find a comfortable place where you can focus without interruptions, and follow these seven simple steps.
Here are the 7 steps to practice mindfulness meditation:
• Step 1: Take a deep breath and start to relax
Take a deep breath and relax, with your eyes open or closed.
Notice the sounds around you coming and going, and let them be whatever they are. This is the simple first step in your practice of mindfulness meditation. You don’t have to do anything else other than being aware of the sounds around you.
If your mind wanders away with one of those sounds, like the whirring of a distant motorboat that pulls your mind with it to the mid-sea, tell your mind you’ve noticed it. Then gently go back to being aware of all other sounds in your environment again.
All along, keep taking in and releasing slow, deep breaths.
• Step 2: Close your eyes and drop all your concerns
Close your eyes and drop all your concerns now, like setting down a heavy bag.
Take all your worries and thoughts and pack them into an imaginary bag. Then keep that bag at your side, telling yourself you’re not throwing them away, but keeping them down for a few minutes.
If you find you’re too attached to your worries, assure yourself you can pick up the bag again after your meditation session — if you want to.
This imaginary act will remove a big load off your mind, and let you feel lighter. It would let you realize you are allowing yourself this time to move away from worldly worries and concerns.
• Step 3: Bring the whole of the awareness into your breathing
Now focus more on your breath. Bring your whole awareness to the sensation of your breathing.
Sense the cool air coming in and the warm air going out, and listen intently the “whoosh” of your breath. Feel the chest rising and falling, and the belly expanding and contracting.
With each inspiration, tell your mind you’re breathing in swigs of calmness and relaxation. With each expiration, you’re breathing out the stresses and anxieties.
Don’t try to control your breath; let it be whatever it is, flowing in and out of its own.
• Step 4: Start counting the breaths
Start counting your breaths softly — count from one to ten, and then start over.
Start back from one if you notice you missed the sequence before reaching number ten, because your mind had wandered.
It’s normal for the mind to wander. And when it does, just return to counting the breaths again from the start. Be gentle on yourself, letting go of all self-criticism.
Mindfulness is not about succeeding or failing. It’s also not about achieving perfection. Rather, it is about sincere attempts to tame your monkey-mind into focusing on the process of breathing.
You can’t fail at mindfulness. Because every time you note your awareness drifting away from your breath, you become better at being mindful.
You can’t fail at mindfulness.
That’s all it is about — being mindful of where your mind goes and telling it you know where it is now. Finally, gently pulling it back to where you want it to be, that is, your breath.
By the way, why do we choose to focus on our breath? Because it’s always with us, and we could practice being mindful of breath-awareness at any place we’re in.
• Step 5: Get deeply immersed in the breathing process
Get more and more absorbed in your breathing. Start to notice the volume, speed, warmth and sound of the breath traveling in and out of your nostrils.
Let your mind trace the path of the air from your nostrils to your windpipe and bronchi, and from there on to your lung alveoli. Wait for a few seconds as your lungs absorb the oxygen from the breath. Then retrace the carbon-dioxide laden air from the lungs back out through the nose.
Once your mind settles down during the first few minutes, you will find it easier to focus your attention on the air as it travels deeper, into your lungs, and out again.
Open your whole consciousness to the simple process of breathing.
• Step 6: Don’t drift off with the thoughts moving through your mind
Now, bring your attention to the presence of the thoughts that are moving through your mind, trying to pull your attention away from your breath. Take notice of them.
This is the most important step of practicing mindfulness meditation.
Let yourself be aware of those thoughts and feelings, wishes and plans, images, and memories. Your streams of thoughts will keep alluring your mind away from your breath.
As Russ Harris, an internationally acclaimed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy trainer and author of the world’s best-selling ACT book, says, “First, mindfulness is a process of awareness, not thinking.”
Each time you notice your mind has wandered off, tell yourself:
I notice my thoughts, but I choose not to let my mind get carried away with them. When I’m aware my mind is not in the place I want it to be, I ask it gently to get back to where it started.
Don’t get caught up or fascinated in them to start thinking yourself away. But also, don’t struggle with them. The idea is to sit with your thoughts and let them be whatever they are.
Most of all, just notice their impermanence as they finally fade off. And yet have an attitude of acceptance toward those free-flowing thoughts.
Think of the thoughts arriving in your mind as fluffy bits of cloud. Let them flow across your mind’s sky. Don’t throw an imaginary rope around one and hang on it. Watch the clouds, let them drift away, but do not flow away with them.
Each time you catch yourself being dragged away by a thought, gently bring back your focus to your breath — again and again.
• Step 7: Keep settling into the breath with more focus
Feel a growing sense of peacefulness within as you keep settling into the breath with more focus.
Notice how it feels to get caught up in the passing contents of awareness—and how it feels to let them go by. Be aware of peaceful awareness itself.
Once you’re there in the state of peaceful awareness, you may decide to sit in that state for as long as you want.
Finally, you may bring the mindfulness meditation session to an end by opening your eyes, stretching out your hands, and getting up.
Summary: 7 Steps of Mindfulness Meditation
- Step 1: Take a deep breath and start to relax.
- Step 2: Close the eyes and drop all the concerns.
- Step 3: Bring the whole of the awareness into your breathing.
- Step 4: Start counting the breaths.
- Step 5: Get deeply immersed in the breathing process.
- Step 6: Don’t drift off with the thoughts moving through your mind.
- Step 7: Keep settling into the breath with more focus.
We suggest you first spend some good time reading through this whole post to get a fair idea of the steps. Only then download and print the PDF to keep it handy and ready for quick reference any time.
• Download here a print-and-keep PDF document of this whole guide for free to store and share (no email required).
Now you’ve learnt these seven simple steps, it’s time to invite mindfulness into your daily life. You’ll do yourself a world of good with just 10 minutes out of your 24-hours.
Mindfulness boosts your happiness levels, betters your social relationships, and even builds your immunity.
Mindfulness practice decreases your anxiety, stress and pain-perception. It makes you more compassionate and attentive. Some say it will also increase your lifespan.
One little advice: keep your phone, especially social media, on silent mode while you practice mindfulness.
We suggest you keep away from social media as much as you can through your day, as according to a research your Facebook friends can make you unhappy.
So, start the practice today. Prepare yourself and setup a place to teach others in your community the same easy and effective method, for example, by holding mini-workshops.
Make the move now. Whenever you think about doing it some other time, remember you now know how to be more mindful, you have your breath with you, and you could do it right now.
Click the cute Little Buddha pic below to access our resource page on mindfulness.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy – medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.
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