Mindfulness In 7 Steps is a simple beginner’s guide to quickly learn and start to practice mindfulness meditation. Even if you have zero experience, this will help you learn and even launch your mindfulness practice. After self-practice for six weeks, we are quite sure you would be ready to start mini-workshops to teach others.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a type of meditation involving an intense awareness of the sensations and feelings in the present moment, exploring them with curiosity, but without judgment. It is a state of awareness, not a state of thoughtlessness. Mindfulness can be done in many ways, like mindful breathing, mindful walking, and mindful eating.
Being mindful means parking your mind in the present, away from both the future and the past.
- Step 1: Breathe in deeply, and relax as you breathe out.
- Step 2: Drop all your worries and concerns.
- Step 3: Bring more awareness into breathing.
- Step 4: Start counting the breaths slowly. And repeat.
- Step 5: Get deeply immersed in the breathing process.
- Step 6: Do not drift off with the thoughts moving through your mind.
- Step 7: Keep settling more and more into a peaceful awareness.
7-Step Beginner’s Guide To Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Download a Free PDF of this 7-Step Mindfulness Guide from the link inside the Final Words section. We also created a print-ready Infographic to help you.
The goals of mindfulness practice are to become more aware of one’s own mental processes, focus on the work attentively, become flexible, recognize the biases and judgments, and respond with compassion.
Mindfulness is settling the mind to an awareness of the flowing thoughts. Let us learn to do that with this step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Breathe in deeply, and relax as you breathe out
Take in a deep breath, hold it for a moment, and then breathe out. Close your eyes gently. Keep taking deep breaths and releasing them, and feel yourself getting relaxed more and more.
Now, notice as many sounds around you as you can, but one by one. Pick out one sound and become curious about it. Let it come to you clearly. Explore the sound for a while. And then let it go, as if the sound vanished from your attention.
It might be hard at first. It helps if you imagine it fading away and out, like someone carrying off a small bell into the distance. Tell yourself you are giving up your control over the source of the sound and letting it go. You are releasing it to leave you and go wherever it wants.
As you pull your attention away from the first sound, spend the next few seconds finding another sound. Then do the same with it.
If there is a dog barking nearby, listen to it for a while. Then let go of it. Let it be whatever it is. Next, find another sound: the rhythmic beating of your heart.
This is the first step in your mindfulness meditation. You could practice this step any time without going into full meditation. You do not have to do anything else than be aware and let go of the sounds around, one by one. It gets easier after a few dry runs.
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: Drop all your worries and concerns
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 more 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 it comes in and goes 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 control your breath; let it behave however it wants, flowing in and out of its own. Your job at this step is to be aware of the air movement between your nose and lungs.
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.
If you notice you missed the sequence before reaching 10 because your mind had wandered off, start back from 1.
Expect the mind to wander; it is normal. When it does, simply 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.
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. Try 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 off carbon dioxide (CO2). 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: Do not 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 ACT Made Simple, 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 far 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. As soon as you notice your mind has left the present moment, gently pull it back to your breath—again and again. The more you practice, the better you become at this.
• You cannot fail at mindfulness. Every time you find your awareness has drifted away from your breath, it only proves you are still mindful.
• Since you noticed it, you’re fully present and mindful of it. So, noticing your mind has wandered off is only a sign you have to bring it back, not a failure.
• Finding where your mind goes and telling it you know where it is now is being in mindfulness. You can never fail at it.
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 a 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.
Find out how can you relax yourself by ➜ Stimulating Your Vagus Nerve!
Take a look at this short video introducing a basic understanding of mindfulness, by Mellissa OBrien:
Infographic: Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness Steps
5 Tips For Beginners at Mindfulness
>>> Top Tip: Record the steps on your phone in your voice. <<<
- Read and Record: Reading the whole post should not take you more than 10 minutes. Once you are through, re-read the steps and record them in your voice. Listening in your own voice helps you concentrate and understand better the entire process. Later, you will find it easy to explain to others.
- Place and Posture: 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. Place yourself in a posture that is both relaxed and alert, with your back reasonably straight if sitting.
- Timing: 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.
- Regularity: It may not come to you effortlessly at first. Rest assured: with a little patience and practice, you will soon be good at following the steps. Another thing: do not postpone it till tomorrow or even later today. And do it regularly. Do you realize 10 minutes of 24-hours is only 0.7% of your day?
- Do It Today: Give it an honest attempt today. Better, try it as soon as you finish reading this. It would give you a head-start. Your first shot might 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 that has minimum distractions, and follow these seven simple steps.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness helps you take away that edginess from your mind. Regular practice of mindfulness meditation reduces stress, anger outbursts, and overthinking. Mindfulness also increases self-awareness, fulfillment, and happiness.
Studies show people who practice mindfulness for long have the following benefits:
- decreases anxiety, stress, and pain perception
- improves the overall quality of life and helps build a stronger ability to cope with day-to-day stresses
- improves physical health: lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, lowers the risk of heart disease, slows down aging (some anecdotal evidence says it might increase lifespan)
- improves mental health: depression, anxiety, PTSD, BPD, and substance abuse
- improves relationships: better communication, deeper connections, more fulfilling and enriched bonds
- improves mental abilities: concentration, abstract thinking, memory, and creativity
- boosts happiness, tranquility, forgiveness, compassion, and life satisfaction
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 long-term stress shrinks the hippocampus (the memory center of the brain). While mindfulness training increases gray matter density in the same area. So, mindfulness can help us remember things better. Come to think of it, the positive changes of mindfulness happen right at our brain level, which is remarkable.
Mindfulness also helps you with pulling in your attention from all over the place and turning it into a laser-sharp focus for as long as you want. With regular mindfulness practice, you can hold your attention steady on the task at hand, despite all the noise in your environment.
Also, after a distraction, concentrating back on whatever you were doing takes only a few seconds now. Mindfulness helps you in letting go of your multi-tasking (which is actually an unproductive habit).
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist who completed his Ph.D. at MIT in 1971, and later developed the mindfulness-based stress-reduction program (MBSR), defines mindfulness as “moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness.”
His research incorporates Buddhist and Zen techniques into Western medicine. Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Clinic. Watch him explain his work:
Download a rich PDF ebook of this guide (Right-click and Save link as..)
We suggest you read through this whole post first to get a fair idea of the steps. And then, please record them on your phone in your own voice, right away (you can do a better recording next time). Let it play as you start your first session of 7-Step Mindfulness meditation.
Now that you know the 7 steps of mindfulness meditation, begin today. It is time to invite peace into your daily life. Do yourself a no-cost, high-value favor with merely 10 minutes of mindfulness practice.
So start your self-practice today. Prepare yourself in the coming weeks to set up a place to hold mini-workshops and teach others this easy and effective method. You could buy one of these books.
Make your move now without postponing it till tomorrow. And if you are thinking about doing it some other time, remind yourself you already know how to do it, and you have your breath with you, so why not do it now?
Here is 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 and chief editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
• Our story: Happiness Project
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