Mindfulness is cultivated by assuming the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience. To do this requires that you become aware of the constant stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experience and learn to step back from it.
When we begin practicing paying attention to the activity of our own mind, it is common to discover that we are constantly generating judgments about our experience.
Jon Kabat Zinn
Breath is the bridge that connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold again.
In our community, where people are practicing the mindfulness of doing laundry, washing dishes, eating, walking and so forth, everybody learns to use breath as a tool for restoring mindfulness.
Thich Nhat Hahn
In our daily life, our steps are burdened with anxieties and fears. Life itself seems to be a continuous chain of insecure feelings, and so our steps lose their natural easiness. [However] Our earth is truly beautiful. There is so much graceful, natural scenery along paths and roads around the earth! Do you know how many forest paths there are, paved with colorful leaves, offering cool and shade? They are all available to us, yet we cannot enjoy them because our hearts are not trouble-free, and our steps are not at ease.
When you practice walking meditation, you go for a stroll. You have no purpose or direction in space or time. The purpose of walking meditation is walking itself. Going is important, not arriving. Walking meditation is not a means to an end; it is an end. Each step is life; each step is peace and joy. That is why we don’t have to hurry. That is why we slow down. We seem to move forward, but we don’t go anywhere; we are not drawn by a goal. Thus we smile while we are walking.
Walking meditation is learning to walk again with ease.
Thich Nhat Hahn
Too many meditators get discouraged at the beginning because their minds won’t settle down. But just as you can’t wait until you’re strong before you start strength training, you can’t wait until your concentration is strong before you start sitting. Only by exercising what little concentration you have will you make it solid and steady.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Building your mental muscles
As you start the practice, you have a sense of your body and a sense of where you are, and then you begin to notice the breathing. The whole feeling of the breath is very important. The breath should not be forced, obviously; you are breathing naturally. The breath is going in and out, in and out. With each breath you become relaxed.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Traditionally in mindfulness meditation you use your breath initially as the object of concentration to collect and unify the mind. You typically stay with the experience of the breath as it touches the body in a single spot, such as the tip of the nose or the rise and fall of the chest, or the feeling of the breath in the whole body. When your mind starts wandering, the breath becomes your anchor to which you return in order to stabilize and focus your attention.