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Mindfulness and Meditation 8 Weeks Challenge

Week 1 – Basics & Mindfulness of the Breath

By now, you should have already picked a time and a place. As this is very new to you, you should ease
into it. A lot of people start with guided meditations without doing this, they just jump in the middle of the
lake without really knowing how to swim. Like with anything we want to learn in life, it is important that we
start with the basics. At the beginning, even 1 minute might seem difficult, because it is 1 minute of
stillness...and we are not used to stillness in our fast moving world.

So this week, the challenge is to meditate for 5 minutes every day. Of course, if you want to push
yourself, feel free to extend this time, but my recommendation is to stick to these 5 minutes for this first
week – as long as you are doing it every day it will help to build the habit.

The tools you are going to use are just your breath and your mind.

So let’s begin :

Set-up a timer (clock, phone) to 5 minutes and make sure that you turn off all possible distractions.

If you decide to sit in a chair instead of crossed legged on the floor it is perfectly ok, but please make sure
both your feet touch the ground and you do not lay on the back of the chair.

If you decide to sit on the floor, I recommend using a pillow to support you, at least at the beginning.

Make sure your back it’s straight – head over heart, heart over pelvis. Imagine you have a hook at the top
of your head and someone is pulling you up on that hook. As the top of the head moves up, you will see
that you chin is going a little bit down. That is the position you want to keep during the entire time of your
meditation and ideally you don’t move too much. During the practice, it might happen that your back starts
curving or your head tilts – that is perfectly normal at the beginning, especially if your back muscles are
not “trained” to sit in this position. If you notice this happening, come back to the original position with as
few moves as possible.

You can meditate with your eyes opened or closed, but if you decide to keep them open, try to focus on
one point and not let visual distractions affect your focus.

Now that you are in the position, take 3 deep mindful breaths. Notice the air coming in through your nose,
pushing your abdomen up and then coming out. Notice where in your body do you feel the breath the
most. Select one point – it can be the nostrils, it can be the abdomen – and stick with it. That is your focal
point.

Once you have decided on this, go back to breathing normally and keep focusing on your breath. Notice
the air coming in – how does it feel in your point of focus ? Notice the short pause between the inhale and
the exhale. Notice what happens in your body as it goes out. Now continue doing that for the 5 minutes.

Your mind will start wondering. When you notice that, take it back to the focal point, without criticizing,
gentle and in peace. You can label it “thinking” and that is it. Imagine thoughts like clouds that come and
go on the blue sky – but the sky should not change because of the clouds, they are just passerby’s, while
the sky just exists there, blue and peaceful. You are the sky !

If it is difficult to re-focus, you can start counting your breaths until you are able to bring your mind back.

You will notice that at the beginning, especially if you are new to the mindfulness practice, your mind will
try to resist. In the 5 minutes you are in meditation, it might find 1000 things you need to urgently do
instead. It will start planning for dinner, or take you to an old conversation that you urgently need to re-
play, or you might start wondering if you turned off the light in the bedroom. Your nose will start
scratching, your back will start hurting. When these things happen, just notice them, accept them, and
then go back to the focus on the breathing.

This training of the mind will help you create the framework for all meditation practice in the future. It is
important to teach the mind how to do it, in order to be able to go to the next phases.