• Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do.

  • Mindfulness is not something new. We already have the capacity to be present, so no big changes to who we are. We can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit our lives.

  • You don’t need to change. Mindfulness recognizes and builds on the best of who we are as human beings.

  • Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.

  • It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health.


How to start a simple meditation

  1. Take a seat. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid seat.
  2. Notice what your legs are doing. If you are on the floor, cross your legs comfortably in front of you.  If you are on a chair, put the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
  3. Straighten—but don’t stiffen— your upper body. The spine has natural curvature. Let it be there. Your head and shoulders can comfortably rest on top of your vertebrae.
  4. Keep upper arms parallel to your upper body.  Let your hands drop onto the tops of your legs. They will land in the right spot. You’re tuning the strings of your body—not too tight and not too loose.
  5. Drop your chin a little and look gently downward. You may let your eyelids lower or close, but it’s not necessary to close your eyes when meditating. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
  6. Be there for a few moments. Relax. Feel your breath – try saying “follow”—as it goes in and out. Your attention will leave wander to other places. When you notice this—return your attention to the breath. Don’t bother judging yourself or obsessing over the content of the thoughts. You go away, you come back.
  7. That’s it.  It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will improve.

Ways to practice mindfulness

Put on some fun, relaxing music. While standing, close your eyes and think of taking on the role of a noodle cooking in a pot. Start with your shoulders and then move to your arms and through out your body. Just focus on your body movement with a non judgmental stance. Try to keep at it for at least 3 minutes. When you have completed one round, allow yourself to be still for a few moments longer…notice how it feels. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Ever watch an infant sleeping? We forget that infants know how to be calm. Start with one or both hands on the upper area of your stomach so you can pay attention to the motions of your belly. As you inhale with your nose, allow your belly to expand as far as it will go. Exhale through your mouth, allowing your belly to pull back in. Continue this pattern at your own pace, giving at least 6-7 repetitions to find a rhythm and style that works for you.  Curiosity and non judgment are the key to success.  Consider puckering your mouth and really exaggerating your exhale, striving to make it somewhat longer than your inhale. This should help you to relax even more.  If paying attention to your breath is not working, consider counting. You can also add a word or special phrase.

Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.  Map out a pathway in front of you 6 to 8 feet long with no obstructions.  Walk back and forth in this path. Begin in super slow motion. You can increase your pace to a moderate one during the experience if necessary.  Just notice your walking or use words to describe your movements (i.e. “lifting, placing, shifting”). Keep your eyes downcast. The goal is to not look around, which might encourage your mind to wander. Focus on the act of walking and the associated body sensations. After a minute or so, turn your attention to your breath. Find the spot either just outside of your nostrils or notice the rise and fall of your belly. Continue to walk back and forth. It is in the nature of your mind to “think”. When it wanders, just notice that it is happening. Then simply return to your body and its practice of walking.

Apps to help with mindfulness practice

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is intended for parents and caregivers to use with their young children (ages 2-5) to help teach skills such as problem-solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.
What it Costs: Free (iOS and Android)
Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule.
What it Costs: Free (iOS and Android)
Meditation made simple. Guided meditations suitable for all levels.
What it Costs: Free (iOS and Android)
As parents, we want to raise our kids to be able to handle whatever comes their way. Stop, Breathe & Think Kids offers children a fun and easy way to identify and process their emotions. From counting breaths to friendly wishes or frog jumps, each activity brings fun rewards to keep them engaged.
What it Costs: Free (iOS)
Breathing Bubbles is an app that helps kids practice releasing worries and focusing on good feelings by allowing kids to select the emotion they are feeling and how strongly they are feeling it. Kids can choose to handle their emotions by releasing a worry or receiving a joy as Manny the Manatee walks them through deep breathing and visualization.
What it Costs: Free (iOS)
Smiling Mind is designed to help manage pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. This app is suited for kids ages 7-18.
What it Costs: Free (iOS)
HelloMind is an app which helps change negative thought patterns. Children can choose treatments based on whatever is bothering them. Examples include low self-esteem, needing courage, or being afraid to stick up for one’s self.
What it Costs: Free (iOS and Android)
Stephanie Phillips, LCMHC

Stephanie Phillips, LCMHCS, NCC, CCTP
Psychotherapist & Owner
The Mindly Group, PLLC