Wake Up! How To Achieve Mindfulness [tips]

how to achieve mindfulness
Written by Donna Rockwell

In the first installment of her Wake Up! series, mindfulness expert and TV personality Dr. Donna Rockwell explains how and why a mindfulness practice will improve your life — and how to begin.

aNewDomain — From corporations to hospital wards, classrooms to sports teams, even to the halls of British Parliament, mindfulness is an eye-opening exercise. Practice mindfulness and you’ll have a better handle on things — and a feeling of greater personal agency in your life. Want to learn how to achieve mindfulness? Follow the easy steps below.

What is mindfulness?

First, what is mindfulness? And how does focusing on your breath help cure what ails you, quell anxiety and soothe your depressing moments?

It slows things down and makes everything easier to handle.

As our world vibrates with the stresses of everyday life, we unfortunately pulsate right along with it. Caught up, we get unwittingly hijacked by fear and various negative habits of mind and thought. We end up on a rushed kind of autopilot, behaving in ways that do not serve us well. W

When you mindfully slow down and focus on your breathing, you learn how to live more deeply in the present moment. You get better at reigning in your mind’s tendency toward wildness and confusion. Mindfulness helps settle the mind in profoundly useful life changing ways.

Check out my video, below. In it,  I talk about the who, what, when, where and why of mindfulness with TV news personality Katie Couric and bestselling author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg on The Katie Show.  

How to achieve mindfulness

Mindfulness, like anything, is something you get better and better at with practice.

By learning to simply sit still in the present moment and taking the time to just pause here and there throughout the day, you gradually become more centered and aware. In reflecting on how grateful you are for what you are and have right now, resiliently accepting your present experiences and focusing on your most wonderful, meaningful memories, you gradually gain an inner sense of calm and focus that allows you to get through 

In being aware of your own breath coming in and ever-so gently going out — by riding the breath and using it as an anchor — you become an anchor unto yourself. 

Most importantly, by being awake to the present moment, which is after all the only moment there really is, you learn how to alleviate anxiety, fear and anger. You find a source of energy, satisfaction and joy that has been with you all along.

By gradually coming to see these truths through the course of mindfulness practice, you may discover that your true essence lies deeper than your discursive thoughts and distracting mental habits. You find resilience. And strength.

Thse are the promises — and the magic — of mindfulness. 

Here’s a quick, on the go mindfulness practice to try …

The next time you find yourself on mass transit or in a waiting room — or maybe you’re sitting in a conference room before a meeting, waiting for an important conversation with a doctor, or just waking up on what you think will be a stressful day — try the following meditation exercise. It’s great for regrounding.

Sit quietly — with eyes closed, if possible.

Place one hand over your heart, the other on your belly.

Bring attention to the breath as it naturally comes in.

Bring attention to the breath as it goes out and dissolves into space.

Feel the hand on your heart rise and fall gently with the flow of your breath.

Feel the hand on your belly also rise and fall gently with the flow of your breath.

Be present to the synchronicity between chest and belly rising and falling and the slow, rhythmic inflow and outflow of the breath.

Sit like this for a few moments, or longer if you can.

Now open your eyes, feel grateful, and proceed with the day, refreshed.

Note: Consult a mental health professional or medical doctor before undertaking meditation or other mindfulness exercise to make sure you will not be negatively impacted by the practice. Work with a trained mindfulness professional on more strenuous mindfulness techniques.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dr. Donna Rockwell.

Follow Dr. Donna Rockwell @DrDonnaRockwell and email her with ideas for her Wake Up! series at  mindfulnessineverydaylife@gmail.com.

Cover image: by Dedda71 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons