Here you are, meditating, aware of your body as it is in this moment. You are placing your attention on your breath as it moves in and out. Your mind starts generating thoughts because that’s what minds do.

Sometimes the thoughts just come and go. It’s as if you are sitting beside a burbling stream. You are aware of its little noises and the flow of it, but it doesn’t bother you as you feel your breath inhale and exhale. BUT if you suddenly realize that you have jumped into the stream, that is, you have been swept away by your thinking, it isn’t a problem, but it does require action.

Label the moment “thinking.” Escort your mind gently, sweetly, tenderly back to your breath. No need to judge yourself. You aren’t doing anything wrong. In fact, you just woke up. Return your attention to your breath sensations.

Meditation is not sitting without thinking. Your mind isn’t blank. Meditation is the process of realizing you are lost in thought, giving yourself a fresh start, and returning your attention to your breath. If you have a day when your monkey mind is very active, that doesn’t make it a “bad” meditation. Busyness is just a description of how things went that day.

You sit, breathing, attending to your body, breath, and mind and even though nothing is happening, something happens. You learn to pay attention to this moment… And this one… And this one. You become mindful. Being here, with no judgments or impatience, you recognize your life’s luminosity.

In that tender escorting of your attention, you have practiced self-compassion, so it begins to be your first instinct. When Big Emotions roll in, you become better at recognizing the story you created that’s perpetuating them and returning to sanity. Rather than fussing or scolding yourself, you laugh at your funny little ways and move on.

Having improved at practicing self-compassion, it becomes easier to have compassion for the people around you. Having watched your thoughts and emotions arise and fall, you are less controlling of circumstances. This makes life better for you and others. Not only is your mind a friendlier place, but you are more pleasant to be around.

Practicing mindfulness makes you and your world happier.