How do we cultivate mindfulness?

We develop mindfulness through the practise of mindfulness meditation.

There are many ways of doing this and there are various guides and resources at the end of this page to help.

A useful introduction to meditation is a ‘mindfulness of sight exercise’. For this, let us use the sight of our right hand.

  • Start by adopting an alert, yet soft posture, such as sitting in a supportive upright chair. Take a moment to let go of any tension that you may become aware of in the body, as best you can.
  • Settle in to the body, perhaps becoming aware of those parts of the body in contact with the chair, and feeling the support that the chair offers you. See if you can surrender those supported areas to gravity and allow the chair to hold you.
  • After settling on the body for a few moments, bring your sight towards your hand:
    • Really tune in to the sites of the hand; such as colouration changes of the skin, folds & creases, shadows…
    • Notice any thoughts, judgements or emotions that arise in response to seeing the hand. Importantly, noticing these thoughts, judgements and emotions as thoughts, judgements and emotions.
    • You will likely discover, sooner rather than later, that the mind will wander off, or get hooked by a distraction, which could be a thought, a sound, a sensation elsewhere in the body.
    • This is totally normal and not a problem at all.
    • However, each and every time that your mind is no longer focused on the sight of your hand, just gently notice where the mind went. Perhaps making a mental note, such as ‘thinking’, ‘planning’, ‘worrying’. Then, gently escort the mind back to the sight of your hand once again.
    • It is very likely the mind will wander a great number of times, even in just a few minutes. This is also normal. As best you can, try and take each time the mind wanders as the first time.
    • We continually repeat this process:
      • Focus on the sights of the hand
      • The mind will wander, that is normal.
      • However, each time it wanders, note where it went and gently escort it back to the sights of the hand once again.
  • Continue with the practise for as long as you feel comfortable.
  • End the practise by once again coming back to the sensations in the body more widely, sitting in the chair. Then, open your sight up to the wider room, with a soft gaze.
  • Now, just acknowledge the value of your efforts and for taking your time to practise.
  • See if you can bring some of this more centred awareness to the next moments of your day.

The type of anchor that we use for the present moment is less important than the overall practise itself. You may find that certain anchors are more helpful at certain times compared to others. For instance, you may find mindful walking in the living room more achievable if you are agitated and mindfulness of the breath more appropriate if you are sitting on a bus.

Experiment with the practises and see what works for you!