Practicing mindfulness is a gesture of kindness toward yourself, your family, and your community. Taking time for intentional rest, learning to build emotional agility, and connecting with your undefended heart — these are the skills that mindfulness practice teaches us.
To give you a gentle jump start, I’ve gathered advice from experts in the field of research-backed mindfulness. These simple tips will help you navigate every day-challenges, tame worry and anxiety, tune into your surroundings with greater awareness and compassion, and allow you to tap into a deep well of resilience — for yourself and for those around you.
1. Give yourself some breathing room.
Psychologist and long-time mindfulness specialist Zindel Segal teaches the three-minute breathing space meditation. You can use this meditation to develop your ability to ground yourself whenever difficult events or emotions arise. “This practice allows us to return to present-moment awareness, and to fully find ourselves at any moment, regardless of what we happen to be occupied with at the time,” says Segal. When we give ourselves room to be still and breathe, we can approach difficulty with more equanimity and compassion for ourselves and others.
2. Investigate your emotions.
“Emotions deserve and are worthy of our attention, respect and care,” says Jessica Morey, meditation teacher and executive director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. Getting familiar with how emotions feel in our body as well as our mind can help us respond to our emotions skillfully, rather than reacting mindlessly. When we allow our emotional lives to inform us, rather than control us, we give ourselves space to ask the very important question: “What is needed right now?”
3. Connect with compassion for yourself and others.
In response to painful experiences, most of us would probably like to respond with compassion, but we may not have the tools to put our intention into practice. And it isn’t easy. Mindfulness and meditation teacher Vinny Ferraro says the starting point is getting in touch with our empathy and shared humanity. “When we allow ourselves to actually touch with our hearts the pain of what’s difficult — the fear, the anger, the hurt — what arises is a natural tenderness. What we want to practice is allowing ourselves to get really close to that human experience, to tend to it.”