Mindfulness For Beginners: How To Get Started

mindfulness meditation for beginners

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to get started with mindfulness for beginners. 

There are so many amazing benefits of mindfulness meditation for beginners to look forward to. It will make you relaxed, happier, and less anxious.

Plus, as well as actual meditation, there are lots of mindfulness exercises you can do.

Ready to start? Great. Here are two simple mindfulness meditations for beginners.

2 Exercises In Mindfulness For Beginners

Beginners Mindfulness Script 1

  1. Before you start this technique, you will want to read my article on how to do meditation at home
  2. Once you’ve read that guide, follow the instructions below.
  3. Close your eyes. Make sure your eyes are very relaxed and that they are at rest. They should be gently closed.
  4. Breathe through your nose. You might like to take a few deep breaths just to relax. Then allow your breath to come naturally and to be gentle and smooth.
  5. Focus on your breath coming through your nose. Begin to observe the sensations of your breath moving through your nose. As a beginner, it might be a challenge at first. That’s fine. Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders. Just gently return your focus to the breath.
  6. Count to 108 breaths. 108 is a sacred number. We usually take this number of breaths when we meditate.
  7. You might feel rushed to get to the end. That’s normal. Remind yourself that your idea of rushing is just a thought, and any feelings are just feelings. Then continue to focus.
  8. When you’re just getting into it, you might struggle to get to 108 breaths. You might get distracted. That’s normal for a novice. Don’t be frustrated; be glad that you started. Next time you will make it to 108 breaths.

Beginners Mindfulness Script  2

Above I shared an easy technique for beginners. Now it’s time for the proper Buddhist technique. Beginners can do this too. Just go slowly. And if you would like to learn more, read my guide to Buddhist meditations.

Here’s the script.

  1. Sit comfortably with good posture. You can sit on a special cushion, on the floor, park bench, wherever you like. Just make sure you’re comfortable.
  2. Place your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Let your wrists drop so that your hands are placed gently on your lap.
  3. Drop your chin and let your gaze drift softly downwards.
  4. Your eyes: You can choose either to have your eyes partially open or completely closed. 
  5. Relax for a few minutes.
  6. Focus on your breathing. There are lots of different types of breathing meditations. The best is to simply focus on your breath moving through your nose. This will help you to relax.
  7. Focus your mind on your breathing. Pay particular attention to how your breath flows between your lips and through your nose.
  8. At times, you will notice that your mind wanders. This is inevitable. When this happens, simply relax and gently bring your focus back to your breathing. When thoughts arise, accept them. Do not try to obstruct them and do not judge them. Just observe them and let them come and go.
  9. When you feel that you need to move, or you get an itch, take a moment just to sit still. Then consciously decide to move. It’s important that you consciously decide to move as this will train your mind to be inwardly still. 
  10.  Ending: At the end of your practice, open your eyes and lift your gaze. Sit still and be consciously aware of the sounds around you. Notice any feelings in your body. Notice any thoughts. Take a moment and consciously decide to carry on with your day.

 If you want to take your practice further and develop the habit, Mindful recommends getting a buddy to practice with.

An Explanation Of Mindfulness For Beginners 

When you’re just getting started with mindfulness as a beginner you might wonder just what the heck the practice is all about.

It is basically living in the present moment.

When we talk about being mindful we mean living in the present moment non-judgmentally. It is about perceiving things as they are. That is the core principle for beginners to understand.

So let’s think about what it means.

Get out of your head

Most of the time, we are stuck in our heads, lost in thoughts. And we tend to think those thoughts are real. We don’t see things for what they are; we see our delusional perception of reality.

Being mindful means the opposite.

When we are being mindful, we are focusing on the thing that we are doing at any given time. For instance, when being mindful of the breath, we are focusing solely on the breath. And if we do think thoughts, we remind ourselves that it is just a thought and not reality. When you’re getting started, simply focus on the present moment.

It’s about awareness

GreaterGood explains that it is about “Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”

So what it means is this: focusing on the present moment and having a clear perception of reality.

There are many ways we can do this, including:

  • Exercises like yoga
  • Breathing techniques
  • Meditation
  • Conscious eating 

It means focusing on the present moment without judgment.

Essentially, this is done by paying attention to our senses instead of living in our heads. 

The term “mindfulness” comes from the Pali term Sati and the Sanskrit word Smrti. It means, “Bare attention”. And that is the heart of it: paying attention to the present moment.

In Sanskrit, the word means to remember. And indeed, a large part of it is remembering to be mindful.

Interestingly, there are several different ways of defining mindfulness, and experts do not always agree.

What does “Mindfulness Meditation” Mean? 

Different experts define “mindfulness” differently:

  • Jack Kornfield calls it “Attention”
  • Mahasi Sayadaw calls it “Concentrated attention”
  • Herbet V. Gunther calls it “Inspection”
  • Erik Pema Kunsang and Buddhadasa Bikku call it “Recollection”

Many people wrongly believe that it is meditation. This is in fact a fallacy.


Difference between mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness and meditation are not the same things.

Meditation is a specific practice in which we focus on one part of the present moment for a set duration.

Mindfulness is the general quality of being mindful in life.

However, confusingly, there is also a specific meditation technique called mindfulness, which is based on Zen, Vipassana, and Tibetan meditation techniques.

Generally, today, when people say they are being mindful they mean they are generally being aware of the present moment. And when they say they are doing “mindfulness meditation”, they mean they are formally meditating.

The Two Types Of Mindfulness 

  • Dispositional (trait) mindfulness: A general conscious awareness and non-judgmental attitude. 
  • State mindfulness: An actual meditation technique 

Mindfulness has developed over recent years through luminaries like Jon Kabat-Zinn, who created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926– ), Herbert Benson (1935– ), Jon Kabat-Zinn (1944– ), Richard J. Davidson (1951– ), Jack Kornfield, and Sam Harris.

Thanks to experts like these, there are now many different ways to practise. 

Today it is used in therapy through methods such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [MBCBT]. And it is also used in schools, prisons, hospitals, businesses, and many other avenues.   

Buddhism 

Mindfulness comes from Buddhism.

In the Buddhist tradition, it is the first factor of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment and  “Right Mindfulness” is the seventh element on the Noble Eightfold Path. There are also different forms of mindfulness in Buddhism:

  • Anapanasati: mindfulness of breathing
  • Satipaṭṭhāna: mindfulness in everyday life
  • Samprajaña, apramāda: “clear comprehension” and “vigilance”, from Theravada Buddhism.

Practising these different types will help us to become enlightened.

Benefits 

It is important to note that although there are scientifically proven benefits, it is best to have no goal in mind when practising.

When you’re getting started with mindfulness, expect nothing. Benefits will happen, but the more you let go of expectations, the more you will get out of it.

That said, there are significant benefits. 

Mental Health

For starters, scientific research has found a direct relationship between mental health and Trait Mindfulness (the quality of being mindful, as opposed to State Mindfulness, which is a meditation technique).

Physical Health 

Mindfulness leads to stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system and regulation of the sympathetic nervous system, along with reduction of the stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenalin, reduced activity in the default mode network, improvements in the immune system, and reduced inflammation.

Therapy

Because of the many benefits, it is now widely used in psychotherapy and general health.

Some of the different forms of mindful therapy include:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (clinical behaviour analysis used in psychotherapy)
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (used mostly for depression)
  • Mindfulness-Based Pain Management (for living with chronic pain and illness)
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy: psychosocial treatment created by Marsha M. Linehan for treating Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Mode Deactivation Therapy: For teens with behavioural problems.
  • Morita Therapy: for accepting and letting go
  • Adaption Practice: For self-discipline
  • Hakomi Therapy: A somatic psychotherapy

 At School

As well as these therapy settings, there has also been significant development in the use of mindfulness in school, such as through the Mindful Kids Miami organization, The Inner Kids Program, MindUP, the Holistic Life Foundation, and the Mindful Life Project.

In Business

Meanwhile, big developments are helping in the use of meditation for businesses.

Google, Apple, General Mills, the U.S. Army and Procter & Gamble have all started introducing mindfulness programs in business settings, and so are government organisations.


Measuring how mindful you are

You might wonder how mindful you are. And indeed, there are different ways to measure how mindful you are: 

  • Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)
  • Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI)
  • Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS)
  • Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale (CAMS)
  • Mindfulness Questionnaire (MQ)

 


How To Continue Learning

If you tried the beginner’s scripts above, you’ve already started to relax, and you might wonder how to continue. Do you want to go further? If so, here are the best books for 2020.  

And for the premium experience, book an online meditation lesson with me today.


HELPFUL RESOURCES:  

Explanation of the practice by University of California, Berkley. 

Benefits of the method by the American Psychological Association.

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

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