The best way to start a meditation practice is to begin with what’s called mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness perfectly exemplifies the essence of meditation, which is the cultivation of attention. In mindfulness meditation, the object of attention is the present moment. Cultivating attention to the present moment is one of the most, if not the most, accessible way to cultivate attention in life. Anyone can do it. A good definition of mindfulness meditation goes like this:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
Here’s a great practice to begin with when you’re first starting out with mindfulness meditation. It only takes five minutes or so and is very simple to do during any time of day.
Close your eyes and ask yourself the question, “Do I have a body?” Consider how it is that you know you have a body, even though you’re not looking at it with your eyes closed in this moment. What sensations are showing you your body in this present moment? Take a moment to notice these sensations without wanting them to be any different from what they are in this moment. What are the details of the sensations your body is showing you? Can you feel the movement of your inhalations and exhalations as you breathe? Do you feel the air flowing along your skin’s surface? Can you feel the blood pulsing throughout your body? Do you feel your nerves tingling somewhere in your body? Can you sense into the prana, or life force energy, flowing through your body?
All of these sensations within your body are happening in the present moment because your body is always in the present moment. Bringing your awareness to the sensations in your body makes you aware of the present moment. Being aware of these sensations without judgment and with purpose – this is mindfulness meditation and it’s the perfect way to begin a meditation practice.