Applying the seven essential attitudes of mindfulness can help you cultivate awareness of the present moment and may help calm your anxious mind.
Mindfulness involves being in the present moment and being aware of where you are and what you’re doing.
The essence of mindfulness is awareness of your breath. Your mindset and attitude also play a role in cultivating a successful mindfulness practice.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, “Full Catastrophe Living,” seven attitudinal factors constitute the major pillars of mindfulness practice. The attitudes are:
- beginner’s mind
- letting go
Keep these seven pillars in mind as you embark on your mindfulness practice. These attitudes will help you direct your energy and attention, allowing you to get the most out of your mindful mediation.
According to Kabat-Zinn, the following seven factors are the “attitudes” that constitute mindfulness practice. Together they are the foundation that can help you build a strong meditation practice of your own.
As you start your mindfulness practice, you may begin to pay close attention to your thoughts.
Try not to get caught up in ideas, opinions, likes, and dislikes. As you notice your mind wander, try not to judge yourself for not paying attention, acknowledge your mind has wandered, and return your attention to your breath.
Understand and accept that things will emerge in their own time. Be patient with yourself and be open to each moment. Give yourself permission to take the time you need for mindfulness and see what unfolds in the present time instead of rushing to get somewhere else or better.
3. Beginners mind
Try to look at things with a clear and uncluttered mind. Too often, we let our past experiences, beliefs, and expectations keep us from seeing things in the present moment.
Consider opening yourself up to new possibilities, as if you’re seeing things for the first time or through the eyes of a child.
An integral part of mediation training is trusting yourself and your feelings. While you may make mistakes along the way, look inward for guidance, and trust your intuition. Be receptive to what you learn from others, but it’s also a good idea to learn to listen and trust yourself.
It’s likely that most of what you do in life, you do with a purpose or goal.
But, mindfulness meditation involves “non-doing” and focusing on seeing and accepting things as they are in the present moment. Embrace the moment you are in, hold onto your awareness, and try not to react or transition into goal-setting mode.
Acceptance involves allowing things to be as they are without trying to change them. When you accept your current situation without wishing it was different or trying to change it, you’re able to be more aware of what you are experiencing at that moment.
7. Letting go
In your meditation practice, you may notice that as you start to pay attention to your inner experiences, you may discover your mind may want to hold onto specific thoughts or experiences.
Try and let your thoughts or experiences be what they are. Try not to get caught up in judging each experience. Just let it be and let it go.
Practicing mindfulness is a form of meditation. Some mindfulness practices can take as little as 1 minute to complete.
Here are three simple mindfulness practices you can try from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices.”
The foundation of all mindfulness practice is to bring attention to your breath. Mindful breathing or “conscious breathing” involves paying attention to your breath as you breathe in and out. Hanh says to think of it like drinking a glass of cool water. As you breathe in, you’ll feel the air fill your lungs.
To begin conscious breathing:
- Pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
- As you inhale, you can say to yourself “in,” and as you exhale, you can say “out.”
- Breathe here for as long as you want.
- Consider adding setting an intention or using a mantra to help keep your mind from wandering.
You can practice sitting meditation in a cross-legged position, in a chair with feet flat on the floor, or in a full or half-lotus position on a meditation pillow.
To begin seated mediation:
- Close your eyes and follow your breath in and out.
- Observe what’s going on in your mind and body without judgment, then let it go.
- Try using a mantra, “I have arrived” while breathing in, and “I feel at home” while breathing out.
- Count “one” as you breathe in, and “two” as you breathe out.
- After 1 minute or longer, resume your normal activities.
Walking meditation is a way to enjoy movement while being fully aware of every step. You can do this practice anytime you walk.
To begin walking meditation:
- Pay attention to every step that you take.
- As you inhale and exhale, pay attention to each step you take and your breathing.
- Try to match your steps to your breath. You may take two steps for the in-breath and three steps for the out-breath. This may change as you continue to walk.
- As you walk, you can also use words that follow the rhythm of your breathing and walking. For example, Hanh suggests that if your breathing is three breaths for three steps, you may say something like, “The green planet.”
Mindfulness is the act of being in the present moment. To get the most out of your mindful mediation, it may be a good idea to follow Kabat-Zinn’s seven principles of mindfulness.
When you start your mindful practice, consider practicing with intention and cultivate the seven core attitudes, which are:
- beginners mind
- letting go
Hahn explains that practicing mindfulness can help us be present in all our waking moments. “We can practice taking out the garbage mindfully, eating mindfully, driving mindfully.”
Looking for more information about how to start a mindfulness practice of your own? Consider checking out the following resources: