PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

A Mindfulness Practice to Try

Posted on Jul 7, 2014

Person doing yoga during sunrise

You may have heard of mindfulness but what is it exactly? Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment by focusing on your breath and on your senses of sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing. You observe your feelings and thoughts as if from a distance, without judging them.

There are many mindfulness techniques and exercises. One is as simple as conscious breathing – being fully aware of all your senses as you breathe in and breathe out.

Janetti Marotta, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who teaches mindfulness classes at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the author of the new book “50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem,” offers this simple meditation on the breath to get started.

Meditation on the Breath

By focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment experience of breathing, you’ll learn how to cultivate mindfulness qualities such as non-judgment, non-striving and patience. Try this practice for a few minutes.

  1. Sit in an upright, relaxed position, whether in a chair or cross-legged on a pillow, and gently close your eyes.
  1. Gently bring your attention to your breath. You may notice sensations related to breathing: your belly may inflate and deflate; your chest may rise and fall; or your whole body may subtly expand and contract.
  1. Observe the depth and duration of each breath; the space or pause between the in- breath and the out-breath; and how the out-breath is slightly longer than the in-breath. Pay attention to the qualities, feeling and rhythm of your breath.
  1. During this exercise, know that the mind naturally wanders. It’s easy to get distracted and lose touch with what you’re doing. When this happens, just make a mental note: Thinking. Then gently but firmly lead your mind back to your breath, feeling each unique and ever-present breath sensation.
  1. When you’re ready, open your eyes and end this meditation, but continue to stay mindful of your breath throughout your day.

Reprinted with permission: New Harbinger Publications, © 2013 by Janetti Marotta