Practicing mindfulness requires no special training, circumstance, or skill. Give it a shot yourself with this simple exercise by Marsha Lucas, PhD, a Washington, DC–based psychotherapist and author of Rewire Your Brain for Love. “Think of it as dedicating more mental resources to building mindfulness pathways in the brain,” says Lucas. “The goal is to go from dirt road to six-lane highway, so that mindfulness becomes your go-to route.” An hour is ideal, thirty minutes fantastic, but the best length of time for this practice is whatever time you spend.
1Sit comfortably, with your spine straight, and simply notice your breath. If that’s too much, just notice the fact that you’re sitting.
2Let your focus rest on the air flowing in and out of your nose. Feel the rise and fall of your belly.
3Expect your mind to wander. That’s OK! That’s what it’s designed to do. Gently bring your attention back to your breath.
4Tune in to your surroundings: Feel the breeze, the temperature of the air, the smells, the sounds.
5Expect your mind to wander off again. This is not a problem or a flaw, nor does it mean you can’t do this. When a thought about work pops up, acknowledge it, and let it go.
6Think of your attention as a puppy: It will naturally get curious and go sniffing around. Just pick it up and gently place it back in your lap again.
7Can’t sit? Try it in the shower. Pay attention to the warm water on your skin, the feel of your belly rising and falling.
8Opt for a morning practice. This will set your tone for the whole day.