Anchor Yourself in Conscious Breathing. A deceptively simple yet old and deep practice of mindfulness meditation is to follow your breath as it comes in and out of your body. The point is not to manipulate or exert control over your breathing, but to gently pay attention to it just as it is.

Sit in a comfortable position (try to keep yourself from slouching), and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes if that makes you less likely to be distracted by external stimuli. As you settle down, find your breath, and without trying to control it, follow its natural rhythm as it goes in and out of your body.

You may find at first that your mind wanders and you cannot remain focused on your breathing. When that happens, smile gently at yourself and bring your attention back to your breathing. It is important not to fight or berate yourself when your mind wanders, nor to feel you have failed if you do not meditate for a long period of time. The practice of mindfulness is not about perfection; which is one of the reasons it is called a practice. Every time you bring your attention to the present moment and back to your breath, is a wonderful moment of mindfulness.

After practicing like this for a little while, you will get more adept at following your breath and at settling down and relaxing. Start out practicing for brief periods of time, just two or three minutes. You might do it at lunchtime in the office, while waiting at a traffic light, or when waiting to check out at the grocery store.

Build Mindful Breathing Into Your Daily Schedule. For example, the next time you sit down to have that cup of coffee or tea at the local coffeehouse, take a few deep breaths and practice sipping mindfully, watching your breath between each sip, and letting your body relax as you enjoy the present moment. You can also effectively practice mindful breathing as you lie down in your bed before you go to sleep. Put your hand face down lightly on top of your diaphragm and follow its gentle rising and falling as you breathe. You might quietly say to yourself "Breathing in, I know I'm breathing in," "Breathing out, I know I'm breathing out," or simply "In" and "Out."

Conscious breathing is the basis for all other mindfulness practices. You may practice mindfulness as you walk, or perhaps as you go up and down stairs, watching your breathing with each step. Or, you may practice mindful breathing as you do the dishes. Eating also provides a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. In fact, mindful eating, taking the time to savor each bite, to truly experience the moment, might even be a natural way to manage your weight! Whichever way you choose, remember that the focus should be on staying calm and focusing on your breathing. The key is to allow those moments to serve as a wonderful respite, and to bring you more in harmony with the here and now, with the present moment.