The idea of cultivating an open, nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening right here, right now, is nothing special.

It is probably more natural than the distracted state we live most of our lives in. I’ve written about the mindfulness fad we are in the midst of in the past, but this shallow popularity does not detract from what a mindful lifestyle has to offer.

Since a majority of this month will explore informal mindfulness exercises and ways of being, today we will touch on what a formal mindfulness practice looks like.

The most important thing to remember is that you will become distracted. This isn’t bad, it isn’t a problem, it is the mind doing what the mind does.

When you notice you are distracted, you are mindful again.

Let that be the end of the end of it. There is no need for stories or assessments.

So, to start, just find a comfortable position to sit. If you are using a chair you want your feet flat on the floor, if you are on the floor try to establish a stable base so you don’t tip over. Let your spine be straight, but without losing the natural curve it has. Your hands can just rest comfortably, your eyes can close naturally.

Become aware of your body. Notice any places of tension or discomfort. Invite them to relax, to soften. Notice the expression on your face and let it rest. Check your jaw, your hands and your neck for tension. Let your shoulders drop away from your ears. Let the belly be soft.

Notice your breath. Not thinking about breathing, but simply experiencing it. Breathe deep into your body, letting the belly expand and contract, just watching as the breath comes and goes. Notice the difference in temperature between the in-breath and the outbreath. Observe the rise and fall of the body.

Let yourself be aware of what is going on in your body, noticing different sensations without labeling them as good or bad. Allow yourself to sit with whatever arises in the body, mind or emotions. Not getting caught up in stories about what is going on, but simply experiencing everything without judgment. You can always return to the breath.

There are many things arising in the present moment to notice. Sounds, sensations, thoughts, emotions, and, always, the breath. Be aware of how we can observe these things and allow them to be exactly as they are. The breath is always there as an anchor for the present, return to it whenever you find you’ve become distracted.

Do this for however long you have. I recommend people start with 5 minutes, adding time as they go. Twenty minutes a day can change your life.

For the next few days we will keep adding to the foundation of a mindful lifestyle, looking at things in a broader sense before narrowing it down and looking at specific, day-day-instances. If this interests you, the easiest way to follow along is to like Dying Daily Counseling and Meditation on Facebook, or by signing up for the mailing list on this blog. You can just add me on Facebook as well.

Thanks for reading, take care.