I have spoken about mindfulness on Facebook and the website (www.headtoheartnetwork.com) now for months but it dawned on me recently that I was missing something fundamental in all of the posts and my own personal insights.

What I was missing what what mindfulness is in terms of a definition AND I also was failing to give any practical techniques.

Firstly, here is a definition of Mindfulness from American Clinician Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally”

In other words, bringing the practitioners attention to NOW, this moment, in a way that doesn’t layer over personal judgement and opinion. What is felt, heard, smelt etc. (sensed) is just allowed to occur. It is experiential and not mental. Mindfulness is very simply in its definition but don’t be taken by its simpleness, it is very complex and you can go very deep with it.

Now to the practical stuff. At this point I want to make this very clear, I am not a very ‘front of House’ person. Don’t let my jovial persona fool you, I am quite reserved and would rather sit at the back of a crowd and I certainly are not keen on waving my arms around in ‘jazz-hands’ style. Nope, I lack any show man confidence so don’t expect me to be on stage any time soon.

I am not one of the millennial generation who was brought up with media and technology in their life. I am a forty something male who is using social media to promote ‘stuff’ but one that doesn’t always get it. Video is especially an area that is alien to me.

Finally, what I would like to say is that what follows is by no means an exhaustive and complete set of instructions. The basics are there, but it is such a wide subject that you can very much find your own way and practice. However the core elements are there. Mindfulness is a technique that needs to be learned, developed, honed and practised. However like any journey it has to have a starting point and this is my version of a first step. Read, listen and most importantly, if you want to take that step, do it.

It may not trigger something in you straight away, and at the bottom I will place some links for other sites where you can get some mindfulness techniques. However it may spark something in you and from the position you will be able to seek further afield if you feel there is more to be learned and want to develop a deeper practice that brings about peace and calm.

Basics Mindfulness – MEDITATION PRACTICE (first steps)

Sitting on a straight-backed chair or on a cushion on the floor, allow your body to become still.
The back is straight without being stiff; the posture is relaxed, awake, and dignified.
Like a king or queen seated on a throne.
The hands rest gently on the knees, palms facing down.
Or in the lap, palms facing upward, hands cupped.
The eyes are half open or gently closed.
If open, the gaze rests gently on whatever is in front of you.
If closed they are gently shut. Not squeezed tight.
There is no need to think too much about what you’re seeing, be it objects or darkness.
Settle into the moment; this moment.
Begin watching the breath.

Become aware of the fact that you’re breathing.
Become aware of the movement of the breath as it flows into and out of the body.
Feel the breath as it flows in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Take two or three deep breaths through the nose and slowly release the breath out through the mouth.
Repeat as many times as you feel necessary to settle the body.
When the time is right, start breathing gently in and out through the nose.
Settle into inhalation and exhalation,sensing the feeling on your body and in your body.
Feel the breath as it comes into the body and as it leaves the body.
Simply allow the breath to come and go.
There is no right or wrong. There is simply breathing.
Remain aware of the breath flowing in and flowing out, not manipulating the breathing in any way. Simply be aware of it and noticing how it feels.

When your mind becomes distracted—and it will become distracted— simply return to the breath.
Your mind will start to wander and you will start to judge.
Allow that to happen, but when you are aware that it has wandered, bring it back to the breath.
Commentary will occur. Allow it.
Return to the breath.
Judgement will occur. Allow it.
Return to the breath

Allow yourself to be with the flow of breath.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Notice the feeling of the breath as the lungs fill with air on the in-breath and deflate as you breathe out, the chest expanding and collapsing.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Perhaps you may feel the breath in the abdomen, rising as you breathe in and flattening and sinking as you breathe out.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Allow your attention to gently ride on the sensation of each breath, not thinking about breathing.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Without the need for commentary. Simply watch your breathing.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Allow the breath to naturally breathe itself, not needing to change it in any way, giving full attention to each breath.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Observe the full cycle of each breath, locating the very beginning of the breath, as it enters the nose and following it as it fills the lungs and expands the chest and the abdomen.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Then comes to the gap where there is neither in-breath nor out-breath, before it turns around and makes its journey out of the body.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Simply remain present for the cycle of each breath, being there, letting your attention gently float on the awareness of your breath.
Breathing in; breathing out.

After a short time, you may notice that the mind wanders off to thoughts of the past, fantasies, memories, or regrets. Or it may move to anticipation of the future, planning, wishing, and judging. You may find yourself thinking about what you’ll do after this practice, what you have to do at work, things that you have to do.
As soon as you become aware that the attention has moved off the breath, guide it back to the next breath with a gentle and firm awareness.
Breathing in; breathing out.
There’s no need to give yourself a hard time. Simply come back to this breath.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Watch the breath and the arising thoughts without judgement, simply observe. Once again, bringing the attention to this breath, in this moment.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Breathing in with the in-breath, breathing out with the out-breath.
Feeling the movement in your body.
The breath anchoring the attention in this moment.

When the mind wanders, bring your attention back to the breath.
Know that you can always use the awareness of your breath to refocus your attention, return it to the present.
Whenever you notice that you have drifted from the present—when you become distracted, preoccupied, or restless, the attention on the breath is a powerful anchor to the present moment.
This moment.

Now, for the remaining time, let go of you attention to the breath.
Allow yourself to simply be here, simply be present.
Breathing in; breathing out.
Breath flowing.
Sensations in the body being felt.
Sounds heard.
Thoughts floating.
All of it coming and going…
All of it happening in this moment.
Drop into being-ness.
Drop into stillness
Present with it all.
As it all unfolds.
You complete and whole.
Just as you are.

Below is the  guided mediation if you wish to follow it: