> Mindfulness

Mindfulness: How to get started

Learn how to start building and improving how mindful you are.

How to be mindful

While an experienced mindfulness instructor can help you understand the intricacies of practising mindfulness, it’s possible to start developing your skills right now, all on your own. Basic mindfulness meditation involves intentionally placing your attention on your breathing, and observing each rise and fall of breath.

So, to begin with, sit in front of a clock or a watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Make it your mission to focus your entire attention on nothing but your breathing, for a full minute.

Can’t stop your mind wandering? Don’t panic – when you’re starting out it’s inevitable that your mind will stray off course, so that you might find yourself thinking, planning or worrying about things. When that happens, just acknowledge that your attention has wandered and then, without judging yourself, gently but firmly redirect your attention back to your breath.

The thing to remember is that while a wandering mind can be frustrating, in that moment that you become aware and acknowledge that your mind has wandered, you’re already practising mindfulness. Simply return your attention to observing your breath again and again and again, as many times as you need to.

Want to know more?

To learn more about mindfulness and how to develop and practise it:

  • READ: the Black Dog Institute’s Mindfulness in Everyday Life fact sheet, available at blackdoginstitute.org.au.
  • CHECK OUT: the variety of science-based mindfulness techniques available at the Greater Good in Action website (ggia.berkeley.edu).
  • LOOK: for a clinical psychologist who specialises in teaching mindfulness meditation.  Use the ‘Find a Psychologist’ service at www.findapsychologist.org.au in Australia.

Article first published 1 January 2017