Being mindful takes work, more work than most people think.
I have a daily ritual that includes a mindfulness practice. I don't always follow the ritual, especially when I'm on the road working.
I've been in Texas the past several days and work has been pretty much all-consuming. So, my mindfulness practice - taking the time to sit for 20 minutes and focus on the breath - has lapsed.
I can tell.
A friend reached out to me the other day. She asked how is this breathing thing supposed to work. I sent her a link to mindful.org. It has a very simple "getting started" page. I think it's not a bad resource.
I've read several books on mindfulness in the past year. The one I liked best is Altered Traits. It's written by a science writer for the NYT and it approaches the topic with an eye towards science and the measurable benefits of mindfulness.
Here's my approach: It's simple really (and not). Focus on the cool air passing through the nose. Focus on that. Maybe start by counting the breaths. Maybe start with a mantra. But, focus on the cool sensation passing the nostrils. If your mind starts to wander, race, move ahead without you, just bring your focus back to that cool sensation. Don't get frustrated. Just acknowledge the thoughts and bring yourself back to the cool sensation of air passing into the nose.
See? It's easy. Yet, somehow, it's not at all.
Keep at it. I have a notion that the benefits accrue either way. I've found that the more often I take the time to sit, the stronger my concentration becomes. I also have a notion that I'm just scratching the surface of the benefits.
That said, I've missed a few days in a row and I'm in need of some mindfulness.