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Teach Yourself to Meditate Mindfully

Read: Public health unit in Japan evaluates benefits of practicing 'mindfulness'
Army Col. Michael Brumage leads a mindfulness meditation session at Camp Zama in Zama, Japan. (U.S. Army photo by Jana York, Public Health Command Region Pacific)

This is the second article in a series on the practice of mindfulness. The series focuses on programs and therapies proven to help improve psychological health and overall well-being.

Mindfulness meditation is a popular form of meditation that helps treat various psychological health concerns – and it has clinical evidence to show that it works. Although there are many programs led by certified instructors to teach you mindfulness meditation, you can also try the practice on your own.

Follow these simple instructions for mindfulness meditation:

  1. Choose a time of day when you are the most awake and alert. Sit upright on the floor or a chair, keeping the spine straight and maintaining a relaxed but erect posture so you do not get drowsy. Depending on your comfort, you can keep your eyes open or closed during this practice.
  2. Now focus on your breathing, on the sensations it triggers throughout your body. Notice how your abdomen moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
  3. Pay attention to the feelings in the tip of your nose, noticing the different sensations that arise with each breath.
  4. When you notice that you have been distracted by unrelated thoughts or feelings that have arisen, simply return your focus to your breathing.
  5. Try this for five to 10 minutes at a sitting, once or twice a day. As you feel more comfortable, you can increase the length of your practice sessions.

Read the DCoE Blog post on mindfulness meditation to learn more about the practice. The Waisman Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison offers additional resources on mindfulness, to include resources for service members and veterans.

Instructions from “The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them,” by Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., and Sharon Begley, are reprinted with permission.


Comments (9)

  • Thomas Byrnes Jr., D.O. 19 Mar

    If 5 to 10 minutes is too long at the beginning of your exploration of this beneficial exercise, try a variation proposed by Andrew Weil, M.D. at a recent employee wellness presentation sponsored by Gulfstream in Savannah GA. Dr. Weil reported he picked up the exercise from Robert Fulford. D.O. in the 1990's. First, Start in a comfortable postition as described in the initial post above, touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth right behind your upper teeth. (Something to do with Chi circuts?), then breath in through your nose for a count of 4, hold the breath in for a count of 7 then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat four times. Do not do this more than twice daily. You should be able to detect internal personal benefits after two weeks practice. Enjoy!
  • DCoE Public Affairs 20 Mar

    Thank you for sharing that tip, Thomas!

  • Jill Bormann, PhD, RN, FAAN 30 Apr

    Those who have a hard time sitting to meditate or believe they cannot concentrate due to a distracted mind may find "mantram repetition" helpful. Silently repeating a mantram (sacred word or phrase) is a portable form of training attention that leads to relaxation. Mantram repetition, not the same as Transcendental Meditation (TM), can be practiced while walking, waiting in line, at a stop light, before sleep or anywhere. Mantram, a self-selected word or phrase, is to be repeated silently to replace unwanted thoughts.The key, however, is to practice during times when you are calm and relaxed to create a mind-body connection. Then, later, it can be used to replace unwanted thoughts or manage feelings during times of stress or in anticipation of a stressful event. The Mantram Repetition Program (MRP) has been empirically studied and found effective for reducing hyperarousal in veterans with posttraumatic stress.  It can also be taught to children. They can learn to use it for calming themselves when agitated or upset. Some teach it to children calling it a "special word".  More information can be found on the internet.
  • DCoE Public Affairs 07 May

    Thanks, Jill for sharing with us the benefits of a different type of meditation!
  • Kathleen Suneja 17 Sep

    Hi there! Great article you have, I would also want to share my thoughts that Meditation indeed has positive effects not only in the body but also in the mind, a total holistic wellness that brings us to know our inner-self better. It gives us a peace of mind that helps us have a much better perception about our lives.

    Our advocacy is to promote the positive effects of meditation, yoga and inner wellness.

    Help us, visit our website at http://www.iamthechangeiseek.org and also www.goodreads.com/kathleensuneja

    Thank you and have a great day!

  • Guy C. Lamunyon 08 Jan

    For beginners I suggest guided mindfulness exercises. These can be found on YOUTUBE, the Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention website, iTunes or from Jon Kabat Zinn website.
    Guy C. Lamunyon MSN, RN
    Lieutenant Colonel
    Army Psych Mental Health Nurse, Retired
    Combat Medic - 101st Vietnam
  • DCoE Public Affairs 19 Jan

    Thank you, Guy, for your contribution to the discussion! As you note, there are additional  mindfulness resources on the internet. As with all internet-based resources, we urge you to use good judgement to ensure that you are accessing reputable sources of information and not jeopardizing your safety by disclosing personal information.
  • Michael Stawnychy, MSN, CRNP 29 Oct

    I have found some very helpful free mp3 resources from MIT and UCLA (links below). These are guided meditations of various lengths that you can place on your phone or computer and listen to when practicing and when necessary. They don't have the (personally) sometimes distracting phrases, music, or chimes of other guided meditations. You can play a short 3 minute version before entering a potentially stressful situation, or a longer 12-14 minute version when trying to sleep. The key with these, and any mindfulness meditations, is to practice and train with them like you would for anything else that you want to master. Don't just try them when you are most stressed, anxious, or upset. This way they become second nature when you really need their soothing and grounding effects.

    Links should open in a new window:
    UCLA: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22
    MIT: https://medical.mit.edu/community/stress-reduction
  • DCoE Public Affairs 07 Nov

    Michael, thank you for sharing these guided meditation practices with our readers!

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