Mindfulness is a universal human behavior common to many different fields of experience. Within traditional meditation, mindfulness is often a component of a particular method rather than a method in itself. Significant attention has been paid by psychology and neuroscience to mindfulness in recent decades. Although this has promoted extensive research it has failed to offer a robust definition of mindfulness. For example in 2016 Nilsson and Kazemi identified 33 different understandings of mindfulness used within a relative narrow area of scientific research.
There are several approaches to mindfulness and insight meditation, some secular and some from spiritual traditions, if you’re looking for a specific approach you should consult a practitioner of that particular school. Unfortunately we can only outline the basic (and somewhat generalised) approach here. If you are trying to follow a self help guide our advice is to find the most reliable meditation methods and resources possible. However if any meditation induces a negative: physical, mental or emotional reaction stop and consult an experienced, reliable teacher. If you have any general questions visit our FAQ page. For details of other methods click here.
How to practice mindfulness
View – This meditation is designed to keep the mind in the present moment. It can be described as a calm awareness of one’s body, feelings and consciousness. It can have a wide range of names such, basic awareness, insight, bare attention. The mindfulness process makes us aware of, and ultimately can lead to a degree of control over our mind’s activity.
Practice – Sit in a comfortable position with the back as vertically straight as possible. Part close or completely close the eyes, whichever works best, the idea is not to focus on objects that come into your field of vision. Calmly observe every thought that comes to mind without following it. Each thought is treated with the same level of mild interest. Don’t take any thought seriously and don’t resist any thought. Just watch the natural rhythms of mind, the coming and going of concepts without any disturbance. It’s likely that you will want to embrace or reject a thought, you may even find the process itself fascinating, resist, just watch the concepts come and go.
As a beginner aim for at least fifteen minutes of this activity, experienced meditators should manage more.