Mindfulness Techniques for beginners

Table of Contents

Breath

  1. Mindfulness of Breathing: the basic
  2. Mindfulness of Breathing: the two qualities
  3. Mindfulness of Breathing: with the body
  4. Mindfulness of Breathing: calming the body
  5. Mindfulness of Breathing: with joy
  6. Mindfulness of Breathing: with the mind
  7. Mindfulness of Breathing: calming the mind
  8. Mindfulness of Breathing: different perspective
  9. Mindfulness of Breathing: the cause
  10. Mindfulness of Breathing: true nature

Basics

  1. Mindfulness of the Present Moment
  2. Mindfulness of Common Experiences
  3. The Dominant Experience
  4. Calming Urge

Body

  1. Mindfulness of Body: Parts
  2. Mindfulness of Body: Elements
  3. Mindfulness of Body: 100 years later
  4. Mindfulness of Body: 100 years ago
  5. Mindfulness of Body: Origin
  6. Mindfulness of Body: Dissolution
  7. Touching the World
  8. Mindfulness of Body: Elements and Breath
  9. Mindfulness of Body: True Nature
  10. Mindfulness of Posture: Sitting
  11. Mindfulness of Posture: Standing
  12. Mindfulness of Posture: Lying Down
  13. Mindfulness of Touching Sensation
  14. Mindfulness of Body Sensations

Basic Movement

  1. Mindfulness of Hand Movements
  2. Mindfulness of Foot Movements
  3. Mindfulness of Head Movements

Eye

  1. Mindfulness of Sight Change
  2. Mindfulness of Sight

Feeling

  1. Mindfulness of Feeling: Pleasantness
  2. Mindfulness of Feeling: Unpleasantness
  3. Mindfulness of Feeling: Neutral
  4. Unpleasantness: Origin

Mind

  1. Mindfulness of Mental State: Likes
  2. Mindfulness of Mental State: Dislikes
  3. Mindfulness of Mental State: Restless
  4. Mindfulness of Mental State: Sleepiness
  5. Mindfulness of Mental State: Delusion
  6. Mindfulness of Mental State: Developed
  7. Mindfulness of Mental State: Concentrated
  8. Mindfulness of Mental State: Liberated
  9. Mindfulness of Mental State: Highest

The True Nature

  1. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Material Form
  2. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Consciousness
  3. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Perception
  4. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Feeling
  5. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Mental Formation
  6. Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Dominant
  7. Mindfulness of the Five Parts
  8. Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Likes
  9. Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Dislikes
  10. Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Contradiction in Knowing
  11. Mindfulness of Actions
  12. Mindfulness of Fetter
  13. Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Mindfulness
  14. Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Investigation of True Nature
  15. Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Energy
  16. Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Equanimity

Seeing the True Nature

  1. Why it is a pen
  2. What truly it is
  3. Why like/dislike
  4. Pain in Pleasure (Unpleasantness in Pleasantness)
  5. Pleasure in Pain (Pleasantness in Unpleasantness)
  6. Why breathing?

Walking

  1. Mindful Walk: Following Your Breath
  2. Mindful Walk: movement awareness
  3. Mindful Nature Walk
  4. Power Walk
  5. Mindfulness of Walking: Activity
  6. Mindfulness of Walking: Three Movements
  7. Mindfulness of Walking: in or out
  8. Mindfulness of Walking: ground conditions

Other Activities

  1. Mindful Eating
  2. Drinking a Cup of Tea or Coffee
  3. Mindful Qigong: Short
  4. Mindful Qigong: Sitting
  5. Mindfulness of Driving

Miscellaneous

  1. Mindfulness of Past Actions: Mental Chatter
  2. Mindfulness of Past Actions

Breath

1.     Mindfulness of Breathing: the basic

  • Clearly aware of the physical sensations of your breath from the beginning to the end of your in-breath. And do the same to your out-breath. The awareness should be uninterrupted continuous for the duration.
  • At the same time, know that it is an in-breath when it occurs and know it is an out-breath when it occurs. Note that beginners often find that it is easier to silently acknowledge the knowing with phrases like: “I know (I’m) breathing in. I know (I’m) breathing out” or “This is an in-breath”, “this is an out-breath”. This is merely to acknowledge your awareness but not to force or influence your breath.
  • Doing nothing. You don’t need to do anything. No need to stop thoughts or empty your mind. No need to try no to think about. No need to do anything.
  • Before starting the practice, straight your intention “I will be mindful of my breaths”.

Note:

  • Sit in a way that your upper is straight up and balanced. Your lower body is to support the upper body. Alternatively you can stand or lie down.
  • Rest your eyes but remain open if you can.
  • Your breath is natural. No need to force or withhold breath or breathe in a different way.

2.     Mindfulness of Breathing: the two qualities

Aware of the two qualities of your breath: the direction of air movement (in or out) and the duration of your breath (short or long). It can be helpful to silently acknowledge your awareness, for example:

  • “I know (I’m) breathing in long” (or “This is a short in-breath”).
  • “I know (I’m) breathing out long” (or “This is a short out-breath”).

3.     Mindfulness of Breathing: with the body

Aware of the two objects: both your breath and the whole body sensations. It can be helpful to silently acknowledge your awareness, for example:

  • “I know (I’m) breathing in and experiencing the whole body” (or “Breathing-in and experiencing the whole body”).
  • “I know (I’m) breathing out and experiencing the whole body” (or “Breathing-out and experiencing the whole body”).

4.     Mindfulness of Breathing: calming the body

  • Breathing-in and calming the whole body.
  • Breathing-out and calming the whole body.

5.     Mindfulness of Breathing: with joy

  • Breathing-in and experiencing joy (or pleasantness).
  • Breathing-out and experiencing joy (or pleasantness).

6.     Mindfulness of Breathing: with the mind

  • Breathing-in and experiencing the mind.
  • Breathing-out and experiencing the mind.

7.     Mindfulness of Breathing: calming the mind

  • Breathing-in and calming the mind.
  • Breathing-out and calming the mind.

8.     Mindfulness of Breathing: different perspective

  • Breathing-in and receiving.
  • Breathing-out and giving.

 

Alternative: Be aware that be breathed rather than you’re breathing. (breathing is happening on its own)

9.     Mindfulness of Breathing: the cause

  • Breathing-in and touching the universe.
  • Breathing-out and touching the universe.

10.Mindfulness of Breathing: true nature

  • Breathing-in and what’s this?
  • Breathing-out and what’s this?

Basics

11.Mindfulness of the Present Moment

Be aware of whatever happening in the present moment including the breath.

 

Note: this is also known as a practice of doing nothing – just being in the present moment.

12.Mindfulness of Common Experiences

Be aware of common experiences such as feelings and mental states.

13.The Dominant Experience

Notice the dominant experience in the present moment.

14.Calming Urge

  • Breathing-in and experiencing an urge.
  • Breathing-out and calming the urge.

Body

15.Mindfulness of Body: Parts

Be aware of body parts such as head, eye, ear, nose, mouth, tongue, tooth, lip, neck, shoulder, arm (upper, forearm), wrist, palm, finger, chest, abdomen, spine, buttock, thy, knee, leg, shin, calf, ankle, foot, toe, sole, heart, liver, lung, kidney, stomach, diaphragm, intestine, skin, muscle, bone and so on.

16.Mindfulness of Body: Elements

Be aware of elements in the body such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and other elements.

17.Mindfulness of Body: 100 years later

Be aware that where will the body elements be 100 years later?

18.Mindfulness of Body: 100 years ago

Be aware that where were the body elements 100 years ago?

19.Mindfulness of Body: Origin

Be aware of the origin of the body elements, e.g. food, water and air.

20.Mindfulness of Body: Dissolution

Be aware of the dissolution of the body without the nutrients.

21.Touching the World

You can practice while your hand rests on your body.

 

Know that you’re touching the vegetables, tall trees, small trees and other plans, river, ocean, fish, birds, worms and other animals, clouds and other people.

22.Mindfulness of Body: Elements and Breath

Be aware of the body composition change in your in-breath and out-breath.

23.Mindfulness of Body: True Nature

Be aware of the true nature of the body.

24.Mindfulness of Posture: Sitting

Be aware that you are sitting. (aware of sitting experiences, for example, sensations from your neck, spine, arms, buttocks, legs and other part of your body.)

25.Mindfulness of Posture: Standing

Be aware that you are standing.

26.Mindfulness of Posture: Lying Down

Be aware that you are lying down.

27.Mindfulness of Touching Sensation

Practice this technique while holding or touching an object such as a pen.

Be aware of various touch sensations including

  • soft, hard, rough or smooth, (texture)
  • heavy or light, (heaviness)
  • warm, hot or cold, (temperature)
  • dry or wet. (moisture)

28.Mindfulness of Body Sensations

Be aware of physical sensation in each part of your body at a time. Be aware of the sensations of the entire body at the end of the practice. The sensation may include  one or more of the followings: temperature; touching of fabric or other object on your skin; pressure on your feet or buttocks; muscle tightness; pain; itchiness; moving sensation (rise and fall of belly while breathing); air flowing sensations in your respiratory system; and pulses.

 

Note: This is not an imagination or visualization practice.

Basic Movement

29.Mindfulness of Hand Movements

You can use this technique to be aware of your hand movement.

 

Be aware of the forward movement when your hand moves forward direction.

Be aware of the backward movement when your hand moves backward direction.

Be aware of the left movement when your hand moves toward the left direction.

Be aware of the right movement when your hand moves toward the right direction.

Be aware of the up movement when your hand moves toward up direction.

Be aware of the down movement when your hand moves toward down direction.

Be aware of the circular movement when your hand moves in a circular motion.

30.Mindfulness of Foot Movements

You can use this technique to be aware of your left foot movement. You can also apply this technique to the other foot later.

 

Be aware of the forward movement when your foot moves forward direction.

Be aware of the backward movement when your foot moves backward direction.

Be aware of the left movement when your foot moves toward the left direction.

Be aware of the right movement when your foot  moves toward the right direction.

Be aware of the up movement when your foot moves toward up direction.

Be aware of the down movement when your foot moves toward down direction.

31.Mindfulness of Head Movements

You can use this technique to be aware of your head movement.

 

Be aware of the left-turning movement when your head turning toward left direction.

Be aware of the right-turning movement when your head turning toward right direction.

Be aware of the left tilting movement when your head tilts to the left direction.

Be aware of the right tilting movement when your head tilts to right direction.

Be aware of the up movement when your head looks up.

Be aware of the down movement when your head looks down.

Eye

32.Mindfulness of Sight Change

This can be practiced while walking or moving. Not recommended to use while driving if you’re a beginner.

  • Notice appearance of an object (in your sight while moving).
  • Notice disappearance of an object (in your sight while moving).
  • Notice an object is getting nearer to you. (for example, a tree)
  • Notice an object is getting farther away from you.

Note:

  • No need to identify the object but notice the changes in the scene.

 

Note: also apply this technique to be aware of the mental phenomena appearing/disappearing in the mind.

33.Mindfulness of Sight

  • Just be aware of the sight (visual phenomena) without interpretation.
  • Be ware that mind sees visual phenomena as object or qualities (e.g. shape, color).
  • Be aware that mind interprets some object or quality as pleasing or displeasing.
  • Be aware that mind desires (likes) or avoids (dislikes) the object or quality.

 

Note: further apply this technique to sound, body sensations, taste, smell and mental phenomena.

Feeling

34.Mindfulness of Feeling: Pleasantness

Be aware of pleasantness, which you are experiencing in the present moment.

35.Mindfulness of Feeling: Unpleasantness

Be aware of unpleasantness, which you are experiencing in the present moment.

For example, practice when you’re experiencing hunger.

36.Mindfulness of Feeling: Neutral

Be aware of neither feeling pleasantness nor unpleasantness.

37.Unpleasantness: Origin

Know why it is unpleasant.

Mind

38.Mindfulness of Mental State: Likes

Be aware of likes (e.g. craving, wanting or desire) if it is in your mind. Otherwise be

aware of the absence of it.

39.Mindfulness of Mental State: Dislikes

Be aware of a dislike (e.g. aversion, anger or hatred) if it is in your mind. Otherwise be

aware of the absence of it.

40.Mindfulness of Mental State: Restless

Be aware of restlessness if the mind is restless. Otherwise be aware that the mind is not restless.

41.Mindfulness of Mental State: Sleepiness

Be aware that the mind is sleepy if the mind is sleepy. Otherwise be aware that the mind is not sleepy.

42.Mindfulness of Mental State: Delusion

Be aware the contradiction in knowing if the contradiction in knowing is present in the mind. Otherwise, be aware that mind is not having the contradiction in knowing (believe to know something he/she doesn’t know).

43.Mindfulness of Mental State: Developed

Be aware that the mind is developed if the mind is not in the ordinary state (that is likes, dislikes, restless, sleepy, deluded) Otherwise be aware that the mind is developed.

44.Mindfulness of Mental State: Concentrated

Be aware that the mind is concentrated if the mind is concentrated. Otherwise be aware that the mind is not concentrated.

45.Mindfulness of Mental State: Liberated

Be aware that the mind is liberated if the mind is liberated. Otherwise be aware that the mind is not liberated.

46.Mindfulness of Mental State: Highest

Be aware that the mind is the highest state if the mind is in the highest state. Otherwise be aware that the mind is not in the highest state.

The True Nature

47.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Material Form

Be aware of a material form (body).

48.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Consciousness

Be aware of consciousness.

49.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Perception

Be aware of a perception.

50.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Feeling

Be aware of a feeling.

51.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Mental Formation

Be aware of a mental formation.

52.Mindfulness of the Five Parts: Dominant

Be aware of the dominant experience among the five parts in the present moment. (The one that stands out.)

53.Mindfulness of the Five Parts

Be aware of material form, consciousness, perception, feeling or mental formation when they arise.

Be aware of passing of the material form, consciousness, perception, feeling or mental formation when they pass.

54.Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Likes

Be aware of presence of a hindrance likes (e.g. craving, wanting, desire ) if the likes is present in the mind

Otherwise, be aware of absence of the hindrance.

55.Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Dislikes

Be aware of presence of a hindrance dislikes (e.g. aversion or anger) if the dislikes is present in the mind

Otherwise, be aware of absence of the hindrance.

56.Mindfulness of Three Hindrances: Contradiction in Knowing

Be aware of presence of the hindrance contradiction in knowing if the contradiction in knowing is present in the mind. Otherwise, be aware of absence of the hindrance.

57.Mindfulness of Actions

Be aware that an action (of body or mind) brings a result.

Be aware whether the action brings pain or freedom.

58.Mindfulness of Fetter

Be aware of a fetter when it arises.

Be aware of the conditions that allowed the fetter to rise.

Be aware of the conditions that removes the fetter.

Be aware of the conditions that prevents the fetter from arising.

59.Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Mindfulness

Be aware of presence of mindfulness if the awakening factor is present in the mind.

60.Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Investigation of True Nature

Be aware of presence of investigation of true nature (or phenomena) if the awakening factor is present in the mind.

61.Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Energy

Be aware of presence of energy if awakening factor of energy is present in the mind.

62.Mindfulness of Four Awakening Factors: Equanimity

Be aware of presence of equanimity if awakening factor of equanimity is present in the mind.

Seeing the True Nature

63.Why it is a pen

Look at a pen. Know why you call it a pen.

64.What truly it is

Know what truly it is.

For example, practice while looking at a pen or other object.

65.Why like/dislike

Know why you like (or dislike) it.

For example, practice while looking at a pen or other object.

66.Pain in Pleasure (Unpleasantness in Pleasantness)

Be aware of unpleasantness in pleasantness.

 

(be aware of pain, a cause of the pleasure, and pain, a possible result of the pleasure.)

 

For example, practice while eating a meal.

67.Pleasure in Pain (Pleasantness in Unpleasantness)

See pleasantness in unpleasantness.

 

(be aware of pleasure, a cause of the pain, and pleasure, a possible result of the pain.)

 

For example, practice when you’re experiencing hunger.

68.Why breathing?

Know why you’re breathing.

 

Know what it is?

Walking

The body movement during the walk is easy – natural, balanced, relaxed, pleasant and effortless. Relax the entire body including the soles.

69.Mindful Walk: Following Your Breath

  • Forward the left foot while air-coming in (in-breath)
  • Forward the right foot while air going out (out-breath)
  • Brief pause and rest while air movement stops

Note:

  • A common mistake: force your breath to follow your foot movement.
  • The whole body relaxed

70.Mindful Walk: movement awareness

  • Clearly aware of the body movements including feet, ankle, legs, thigh, hip joints, and arms
  • Aware of the various muscles in the body areas (e.g. feet, legs, uppers body) being tenses and relaxed as you walk.

71.Mindful Nature Walk

  • Be aware of the sensation in your feet such as pressure and other sensations.
  • Further be aware of the texture of the ground based on the sensation in your feet such as soft/hard, smooth/rough, wet/dry.
  • Be aware of movement.
  • Be aware of sight change.
  • Be aware of mind change.
  • Be aware of your whole body sensations
  • Be aware of sounds.
  • Be aware of the what are mentioned above with your breath.
  • Combine one or more of the above techniques.

Note:

  • Your whole body relaxed.
  • Using the entire sole.
  • Further noticing that you’re touching the plants.

72.Power Walk

Walk easy (natural, balanced, relaxed, pleasant and effortless. Relax the entire body including the soles)

Each movement that you make is intentional (not automatic).

Be aware of body tensions/relaxations, movement and breath.

In addition, be aware of qi (기 氣the energy) flow in the body (especially in 단전 dantian).

 

Nature is the preferred place to practice this technique.

 

See also: Mindful Nature Walk

73.Mindfulness of Walking: Activity

Be aware that you’re walking.

74.Mindfulness of Walking: Three Movements

Be aware of the lifting when you are lifting a foot from the floor (or ground).

Be aware of the forward movement when your foot is moving forward.

Be aware of the touching when your foot is touching the floor (or ground).

75.Mindfulness of Walking: in or out

Each time your foot touches ground or floor, you know whether your breath is in-breath or out-breath on that moment.

76.Mindfulness of Walking: ground conditions

Be aware of condition of the ground (or floor) based on the touching sensation of your foot (not based on eye sight), for example,

  • soft or hard;
  • even or uneven;
  • wet or dry;
  • flat or hill (uphill or downhill); and
  • sticky or not sticky.

Other Activities

77.Mindful Eating

Be aware of basic eating experiences, e.g.:

  • hunger sensation (including unpleasant feeling, wanting, ,perception, who is the one experiencing), the 3 stages of eating (lift, chewing, swallowing) bodily reactions, mental reactions, sweetness, saltiness, other tastes, the texture change, temperature change, smell, the sound of chewing, mouth (sensations in tongue, teeth),
  • pleasantness, urge/desire, what triggers the desire, calming the desire,
  • what you’re eating, ingredients, (touching) people who contributed in making this food (in producing and bringing this food to you), (touching) other factors that made this food (allowed the food into an existence), touching the world (the people and the factors), food becoming part of your body, and
  • a good fortune of having food and good fortune of having a good digestive system.

78.Drinking a Cup of Tea or Coffee

Be aware of drinking experiences, such as:

  • the 3 stages of drinking (lifting, sipping swallowing), the muscles movements associated with sipping and swallowing  (tongue, pharynx & esophagus), physical reactions, mental reactions, sweetness, other tastes, temperature, smell, sound, mouth (sensations in mouth),
  • pleasantness, urge/desire, what triggers the desire, calming the desire,
  • what you are drinking, ingredients, (touching) people who contributed in making this drink (in producing and bringing this drink to you), (touching) other factors that made this drink (allowed the drink into an existence), touching the world (the people and the factors),  and
  • a good fortune of having no pain in the digestive systems.

79.Mindful Qigong: Short

  • Clearly noticing each movement while moving.
  • Noticing the blood flowing sensations and breath while resting.
  • The four movements are: two hands holding up, looking back, touching the feet, falling

80.Mindful Qigong: Sitting

  • Clearly notice each movement while moving.
  • Noticing the blood flowing sensations and breath while resting.
  • The four movements are: collecting, start, pushing, sword.

81.Mindfulness of Driving

Sight change:

Notice appearance of an object (in your sight while moving).

Notice disappearance of an object.

Notice an object is getting nearer to you. (for example, a traffic sign, another car)

Notice an object is getting farther away from you.

Speed change:

Be aware when you increase speed of your car, for example, your car starts to move or accelerating.

Be aware of when you decrease speed of your car. For example, your car is about to stop at a traffic light.

Direction change:

Be aware of turning when your car is turning. For example, you make a left or right turn at an intersection.

Be aware of changing when your car is changing a lane. For example, your car is changing to the left-lane from the right-lane.

Others:

Be aware of your breath.

Optional:

Be aware of the sounds

 

Practice one method at a time or practice all of the above methods at the same time.

 

Note: no need to identify objects in the sight change.

 

Caution: Avoid using the above technique when there is any chance this practice could affect safety of yourself or others. This is not a driving instruction. The technique is only for experienced safe drivers only.

Miscellaneous

82.Mindfulness of Past Actions: Mental Chatter

Be aware of having the fruits of your past actions when you are having mental chatter.

83.Mindfulness of Past Actions

Be aware that you are having the fruits of your past actions.

 

For example, see: Mindfulness of Past Actions: Mental chatter

 

 

Read the Part 2

 

Written by Sung Yang in 2010.  (updated in 2017)

The above are some examples of the most basic mindfulness techniques, which are intended to use with guidance from a teacher. Contact Sung if you’d like to learn more or need personalized techniques for optimal learning and more effective practice. 

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