This mindfulness practice allows us to relate to instead of from our thoughts—we’re building awareness of how we think. When we engage in this practice, maybe starting out for five minutes a day, we can begin to notice the storylines we create in our minds around expectations or pressures, or maybe just how much noise circulates in any given moment.
We can train our brain to notice our mental habits—some good, some bad—and in noticing these habits, we have more freedom to choose how we act.
A Basic Meditation to Train Awareness
1. Begin by getting comfortable in a seated position, one where you’re sitting up straight but you’re not sitting up rigidly straight. It’s a position of ease. You can close your eyes or lower your gaze toward the floor.
2. Take a few deep breaths. As you’re doing this, get a sense of your body sitting here and also a sense of where you’re starting this moment from physically, emotionally, and mentally. At this time of the day, how is the body physically? Is there any tension or tightness anywhere? What emotions are present? Is there a neutral feeling or a sense of anxiousness or calm? Also, is the mind busy or calm? Begin to recognize this body naturally breathing.
3. As you breathe in, bring a beginner’s mind to this inhalation, noticing it as if for the first time. Breathing out, bringing that same attitude toward the exhalation. Just resting awareness on the breath.
4. Begin to get a sense of this body sitting here—instead of just noticing the positioning of the body, feel into the entirety of the body in this moment. This body is full of sensations from warmth to coolness, achiness, pressure, holding, pulsing, itchiness…perhaps some areas don’t have any feeling at all. Just spend the next minute feeling the sensations. Whatever is being experienced, just allow it and let it be, being curious about what’s here.
5. If at any point the mind wanders, just see where it wandered to. Touch that thought for a moment, as if it was your own reflection in the water, and gently go back to the sensations in the body.
6) Expand awareness from the body to sounds. Because of this mind and these ears, we have the gift of audibility, this gift of hearing. Not everyone has this gift, but here we have it now. Take a moment to notice the rising and falling of sounds—like in my voice—and whenever the mind wanders, see, touch, and gently go back to sounds.
Bring awareness to thoughts themselves. Even the thought, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” is a thought.
7. Just like with sounds, we can also notice our thoughts, as if we were sitting in a dark movie theatre, noticing the dialogue and the images come and go on the screen. So beginning now to bring awareness to thoughts themselves. Even the thought, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” is a thought. Noticing an opening up, being aware.
8. Breathe in, and breathe out, and as we gently come back to the breath, notice how the whole body expands on an inhalation, contracts on an exhalation. We can genuinely thank ourselves for taking this time out of our day just to engage in our own practice for our health and well-being.