Mindfulness is a wonderful tool. It can help you feel calmer, more focused, more relaxed, happier, and just all-around healthier. As it turns out, it can also make you more blissful!
If you’ve never engaged in mindfulness before, this exercise is a great way to ease into it and familiarize yourself with the practice.
Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down—but not too comfy! You don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of your practice.
Settle in and close your eyes. Shut your mind down as you shut your eyes, and let go of any sense of rigid control over your thoughts.
Allow your thoughts to come and go, your mind drifting from one to the next. Don’t stop and focus on any of them, but don’t avoid or ignore any of them either. As they pass, do your best to consider them without any value judgment (e.g., “I shouldn’t feel this way”or “Wow, what a terrible thought to have!”).
Spend a few minutes simply allowing your thoughts to pass in and out of your mind. If you find your mind wandering off on a tangent, simply direct it gently back to its objective and nonjudgmental state.
If it helps, you can focus on your breathing. Feel each breath as it enters your lungs, fills your chest, and slowly escapes through your nose. Don’t try to control it, just observe it and pay attention to how it feels to breathe.
When you’re ready to end your practice, simply bring your awareness back to your surroundings and let go of any lingering thoughts. Allow your eyes to flutter open, and go on with your day as planned, but with one caveat—try to carry your relaxed and mindful state along with you. Congratulations, you practiced mindfulness! You’ll find that this practice is an excellent way to feel peaceful, relaxed, and even blissful. Do it regularly for best results.
Courtney E. Ackerman is a researcher and author. She has a master’s degree in positive organizational psychology and evaluation from Claremont Graduate University in California. When she’s not working, she’s usually spending time with her dogs, reading a book, visiting a nearby winery, or playing video games with her husband.
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“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
- MARCUS AURELIUS