Fern leaf

There is probably no better way to learn to live more mindfully than through meditation. A good place to start is with observing your breath. Sit up as straight as you comfortably can and close your eyes, or look at one spot on the floor about three feet in front of you. Find a place in your body where you can distinctly feel yourself breathing. This might be in your diaphragm area, your chest, or your nostrils.

Now, just pay attention to your breath naturally coming in and out of your body. There is no need to try to breathe deeply; some of your breaths will be short and light, others will be longer and deep. Try this for 5 or 10 minutes.

Your mind will wander. If you are like most people, you will get upset with yourself for this, or feel that you aren’t doing it “right.” This happens, however, to everyone. In fact, the moment you realize that your mind has strayed from your breath is perhaps your moment of greatest mindfulness. When you notice it, just gently bring your attention back to your breath.

You will probably find counting your breaths to be helpful with concentration. As you breathe in, silently say “one” to yourself. On the outbreath, “two.” Do this up to ten then count backwards to one. Continue this throughout your meditation period.

If you would like to learn more about practicing mindfulness and live in or near Washtenaw County, visit the Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness website for a listing of local classes and events. The Ann Arbor Open Meditation group offers drop-in meditation sessions on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. They are located at the Lotus Center at 2711 Carpenter Rd. in Ann Arbor. Washtenaw Community College and the Ann Arbor Rec and Ed program also offer meditation classes.

If you live elsewhere and cannot find a local group, do an internet search for online support.