Simple Self-Care Tips: The 6 Steps to Mindful Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice that is transforming the way men and women perceive not only themselves, but the world. It’s a habit of the highly successful (and happy).

A tool for health and well-being that should be practiced daily. With countless studies to back this notion, we want to show you how to find peace and clarity.

Meditation is a simple practice available to all, which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness. Learning how to meditate is straightforward, and the benefits can come quickly. Here, we offer basic tips to get you started on a path toward greater equanimity, acceptance and joy. Take a deep breath, and get ready to relax.

This post is adapted from an original article from David Gelles at The New York Times

The Basics

Setting aside time for formal meditation is an important way to establish a routine and get comfortable with the practice. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

“Some people complain about taking time out of their day,” said Atman Smith, who teaches meditation to underserved communities in Baltimore. “Practice is important though. It’s a tool you can use to bring yourself back to the present in stressful situations.”

But we shouldn’t stop being mindful when we stop meditating. “The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to become mindful throughout all parts of our life, so that we’re awake, present and openhearted in everything we do,” said Tara Brach, a popular meditation teacher based near Washington, D.C. “Not just when we’re sitting on the cushion.”

Mindfulness meditation isn’t about letting your thoughts wander. But it isn’t about trying to empty your mind, either. Instead, the practice involves paying close attention to the present moment — especially our own thoughts, emotions and sensations — whatever it is that’s happening.

Learn how to pay close attention to the present moment with this meditation exercise.

STEP 1

Find a comfortable place to sit, and a posture that is both alert and relaxed at the same time. See if you can make the spine erect, without being too rigid.

STEP 2

Close your eyes (or leave them slightly open if you prefer), and take a few slow breaths. Take a few moments to loosen your body from your head to your toes, and take a few more deep breaths.

STEP 3

Stop to notice the sensations throughout your body — the warmth, the coolness or any discomfort. Be aware of them, but try not to fidget too much.

STEP 4

Pick one sensation — such as the feeling of your breath going in and out — and devote your attention to it. Just focus on that.

STEP 5

When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the breath. After a few moments, your mind may wander again. Once again, notice that and simply return your attention back to the present moment.

STEP 6

When you’re ready — after one minute, 10 minutes or 30 minutes — open your eyes. Though your formal meditation practice may have ended, your mindful awareness can continue throughout the day.