Wondering how to start a mindfulness practice to enrich your and other people’s lives? Then you’re at the right place! Mindfulness In 7 Steps is arguably the easiest guide to learn mindfulness meditation and start your mindfulness practice within the shortest time.
It is smart and practical, as well as brief and easy. It is also one of the most accessed step-by-step beginner-level guides to mindfulness meditation on the internet.
Once you have learned it, and have practiced it every day for 3 to 4 weeks, you could start mini-workshops to teach Mindfulness In 7 Steps technique to others.
Get a print version (PDF) of this 7-Step Mindfulness Guide for free. Find the download link inside the Final Words section.
Summary: 7 Steps of Mindfulness
- Step 1: Take a deep breath and start to relax.
- Step 2: Close the eyes and drop all the concerns.
- Step 3: Bring your whole awareness into breathing.
- Step 4: Start counting the breaths slowly. And repeat.
- 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 more and more into a peaceful awareness.
What Is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is defined as a focused state of awareness 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 are curiously aware of your passing thoughts, you must make sure you also examine them without any judgment.
At the simplest, mindfulness means when we are focusing on a task and distracting thoughts and emotions come to the mind, but one lets them pass without getting carried away, they are in a state of mindfulness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of 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 the following words:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, to the present moment, and without judgment. – Jon Kabat-Zinn Click To Tweet
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, to the present moment, and without judgment.
How To Practice Mindfulness: A 7-Step Easy Guide For Beginners
Preparation: Before Mindfulness Practice
Reading through the whole post should not take more than 10 minutes. Once you are through, read the steps once again carefully.
>>> You may record the steps on your phone in your voice.
Listening in your own voice helps you concentrate better and understand clearly the entire process. Later, you will find it easy to explain to others.
- First, find a comfortable place where you can focus and will not get disturbed or interrupted. You may sit on a chair or a cushion on the floor or lie down on a yoga mat.
- 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 minutes 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 if sitting.
Step By Step: Mindfulness In 7 Steps
It may not come to you effortlessly at first. But let us assure you: with a little patience and practice, you will be good at following the steps just as instructed. Another thing: do not postpone it till tomorrow or even later today.
Try it now – as soon as you finish reading the guide. What it would do is give you a head-start. It may be a little shaky and imperfect, but you would be one practice ahead. So, soon 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. Take a few more deep breaths and close your eyes.
Now, you will notice as many sounds around you as you can, one by one. Pick out one sound, and let it come to you clearly, and then let it fade and go. By letting it go, you let them be whatever they are. If there is a dog barking nearby, listen to it for a while. Then let go of it. Let it be whatever it is, and find another sound, perhaps your heartbeats.
This is the first step in your practice of mindfulness meditation. It is simple. You do not have to do anything else other than being aware of the surrounding sounds.
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 have noticed it. Then ask it gently to go back to being aware of another sound.
All along, keep taking in and releasing slow and 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 concerns and pack them into an imaginary bag. Then keep that bag at your side, telling yourself you are not throwing them away but keeping them down for a few minutes.
If your worries sit on your shoulders so much of the time that they are a part of you, it may be difficult for you to off-load them. But 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 shoulders and mind, and make you feel lighter. It would let you realize you are allowing yourself this little time to move away from worldly worries.
Step 3: Bring your whole awareness into breathing
Now focus more on your breath. Bring your full awareness into the sensation of your breathing.
Sense the cool air coming in, and the warm air going out. Listen intently to the “whoosh” of your breath each time they come in and go out. Feel the chest rising and falling, and the belly expanding and contracting.
With each inspiration, tell your mind you are breathing in swigs of calmness and relaxation. With each expiration, tell yourself you are breathing out the stresses and anxieties.
Do not try to control your breath; let it be whatever it is, flowing in and out of its own. Your job at this step is to be aware of their movement through your nose.
Step 4: Start counting the breaths slowly. And repeat.
Start counting your breaths softly — count from 1 to 10, take a slight pause, and then start over.
Start back from 1 if you notice you missed the sequence before reaching 10 because your mind had wandered.
Expect the mind to wander; it is normal. When it does, just return to counting the breaths again from the start. Be gentle with yourself, letting go of all self-criticism.
Mindfulness is not about succeeding or failing. It is also not about achieving perfection. It is rather about a sincere attempt to tame your monkey-mind into focusing on the detailed 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.
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: your breath.
While on it, why do we focus on the breath? Because it is always with us, and we could practice being mindful of breath-awareness at any place we are.
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.
This is a step to note the details. Let your mind trace the path of the air from your nostrils to your windpipe. And from there on to the small air sacs in your lungs called alveoli.
Wait for a few seconds as the blood around your lungs absorbs the oxygen from the breath. And gives it back the carbon-dioxide. Then retrace the CO2 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 entire consciousness to the detailed process of breathing.
Step 6: Don’t drift off with the thoughts moving through your mind
Now, bring your attention to your thoughts. Note how these are moving through your mind, trying to pull your attention away from your breath. Take genuine notice of them.
This step is perhaps the most important one in your practice of 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 know my mind is not in the place where I want it to be, I ask it gently to get back to where it started.
Try not to get caught up or fascinated with them, so you do not start thinking yourself away. But also, don’t struggle to push those off your mind. 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 faraway 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 more and more into a peaceful awareness
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. Be aware of peaceful awareness itself.
Once you are there in the state of peaceful awareness, you may sit in that state for as long as you want. Let it be a decision of the moment.
Finally, you may bring the mindfulness meditation session to an end by opening your eyes, stretching out your hands, and getting up.
Infographic: Mindfulness In 7 Steps
10-Minute Guided Mindfulness Meditation
Mind-Wandering: Edginess of Your Monkey Mind
Now we have gone over the seven steps of the mindfulness practice, let us investigate its biggest problem: mind-wandering.
Mind-wandering is just the opposite of mindfulness. And it is the most common cause to disrupt our mindfulness sessions.
We all slip into the set-patterns of mind and body, so much so that most of the time we are not fully present in our own lives. Which means, we are doing one thing, and our minds are someplace else.
Why does it happen?
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 and stress into you?
Does it get to you that a deeply satisfying state of happiness, a state of fulsome wellbeing and genuine joy, often remains elusive despite living fortunate lives?
These, and other such difficult situations we often find ourselves in today’s world, are traced to a change that happened in the brains of our earliest ancestors — which they passed down to us. The humans tended to go after pleasure and block out pain, and that habit got biologically hard-wired into the brain.
Evolutionary science hints this automatic behavior pattern got hard-wired into our earliest predecessors as a survival mechanism. By the way, we have a neuroplastic brain, which means our brain can reshape itself.
We call this the Pain-Pleasure principle.
If they didn’t run from pain, they would not have survived. And to run from possible pain, they were always looking out for dangers.
That jungle-living ancestor’s mind was constantly on this mode:
Ever since, we are on a constant watch looking out for what could go wrong around us, even in the modern-day when most of those life-threats do not exist. 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.
A practical solution to this habit of uncontrolled “tuning-out” and “mind-wandering” is the intentional practice of mindfulness.
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 are in the habit of thinking all the time, learn here how to stop it.]
Mindfulness also increases self-awareness, fulfillment, and happiness. Among other benefits, studies undeniably show people who practice mindfulness:
- improved their health and overall quality of life
- reduced their depression and anxiety
- increased their concentration
- achieved a much stronger ability to cope effectively with day-to-day stresses
- boosted happiness and life-satisfaction levels, made their relationships more fulfilling and enriched, and built their immunity
- decreased anxiety, stress, and pain perception, and made them more compassionate and attentive.
- Some anecdotal evidence says it might increase lifespan.
There are scientific proofs of the effects of mindfulness practice. No less than 21 brain-scan studies over a decade reveal long years of mindfulness practice reshapes parts of our brain — especially these three areas:
- the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)
- right anterior insula (RAI)
- anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)
Studies show while long-term stress shrinks the hippocampus (the memory center of the brain), mindfulness training increases grey-matter density in the same area. So, mindfulness can increase our ability to remember things.
Come to think of it, the positive mindset changes of mindfulness practice happen right at our brain level, which is remarkable.
Being Mindful: Types of Mindfulness
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.
You can be mindful without meditating. Read on to know how.
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.
7 types of mindfulness:
- Mindful breathing
- Mindful walking
- Mindful eating
- Mindful observation
- Mindful awareness
- Mindful listening
- Mindful savoring
Being mindful 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.
We suggest you first spend some good time reading through this whole post to get a fair idea of the steps.
Now, please go back up and read through the steps again, and record them on your phone in your own voice. Let it play as you start your first session of 7-Step Mindfulness meditation.
Download the rich PDF from the link below to keep it handy and ready for quick reference at any time.
Now you have learned the 7 simple steps of mindfulness, it is time to invite peace into your daily chaotic life. You would do yourself a world of good with just 10 minutes of mindfulness in your 24-hours-day.
So start to practice today. Prepare yourself and set up 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.
Tap or click the cute Little Buddha pic below to find our resource page on mindfulness.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy – a 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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