Mindfulness Meditation Techniques

Focus

Ideally “watch” your breath by focusing on the nostrils or belly movement. You can also try counting each breath up to ten and then repeating from the beginning. Others find it help to use a mantra or focusing words attached to the in-and exhalation, such “peace in, peace out,” “be peace,” or any simple phrase that focuses you.

Refocusing

There are many options for refocusing when your mind wanders off, which it will do several times a minute in most cases. The most important part is to choose a refocusing technique that reminds you to be patient and nonjudgmental with yourself (e.g., not beat yourself up or put yourself down) when you find that your mind has wandered off.

Some of options for redirecting your focus:
  • “Ah, that too”: Ah, that too, is running through my mind.
  • Labeling: When you catch mind wandering, you can label each thought, e.g. “worry,” “planning,” “anger,” “feeling,” “thought.”
  • Clouds/Bubble Image: You can imagine the thought or feeling as a cloud or bubble that floats away.

Seating

It is generally considered best to sit upright yet relaxed posture on the edge of a hard chair or cushion. If this is too uncomfortable, you may also lie down or sit back in a chair.

Timer

It is often very helpful and motivating to set a timer to set boundaries on your practice.

You may use an egg timer, a timer on your mobile phone, buy a meditation timer

(www.zenclocks.com), or download one on your computer (Mac: meditation timer widget free;

PC: Buddha bell softpedia.com for purchase) or Palm/Treo (PocketDoan is free

www.palmgear.com; iphone: meditation apps).

Environment 

It may be easiest at the beginning to meditate in a quiet location, but it is not necessary. Distractions can be helpful in improving your focus.

Overcoming Barriers to Regular Practice

No Time 

If you are motivated, you can always find 2-5 minutes a day to practice. The easiest way to find the time is to “attach” mindfulness to another daily or regular activity. Then it will quickly become a habit.

I Can’t Focus

Be patient and kind to yourself! Over time, mindfulness helps you improve your focus. Each time you lose focus and then refocus, you are increasing your brain’s ability to maintain focus and regulate emotion.

Cultivating Acceptance

At its core, mindfulness practice is about cultivating acceptance of self, others, and life. Acceptance is cultivated by your attitude when refocusing your attention.

You will lose your attention frequently and often: what you do to refocus is key. You should work towards accepting with kindness and compassion whatever thought, feeling, or distraction has captured your mind’s attention while also accepting that your mind has wandered without berating yourself for having lost focus.

The more you can learn to accept whatever the mind is doing as well as the fact that the mind has wandered, the greater your acceptance will be of self and other.


Additional Resources

www.marc.ucla.edu: Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA; Classes and Podcasts; ADHD

www.mbsr.mass.edu: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Research and Info; Chronic Pain

www.contemplativeprayer.org: Christian Based Contemplative Prayer Information

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