Mindfulness is a presence of mind that we bring alive one moment at a time, right here and now. It brings clarity to our lives because the moment you realize that you have been mindlessly lost in your thoughts, you are awake again and back at the center of your life.

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Look out through your eyes right now, noticing the words on this page, and recognize that you are "seeing."

Feel the contact of the book in your hands, noticing its texture, weight, and form, and know you are "touching."

Watching the thoughts floating in your misnd, wondering what will come next, know that you are "thinking."

This lucid presence of mind that simply, effortlessly, notices what is true for you in the moment is called mindfulness. This dynamic state of attention is a deep, direct awareness of the present moment. It is your natural capacity and most crucial tool for discovering and sustaining balance.

It allows you to recognize when you are out of balance and then to come back into balance, because it is the part of your mind that can notice what's happening. You've stopped falling off the tightrope -- or at least you are aware of falling and can figure out how to get back on.

The cultivation of this practice is a lifelong process, but we'd like to offer some helpful tips for beginners. Although the benefits of effective stress reduction can be tasted almost immediately, it is also possible to create a profound state of inner balance that does more than reduce the harmful effects of stress in the body and mind.

Practice will allow you begin to see clearly what is really going on inside you. These exercises will help you bring greater balance to your life by becoming more aware of your breathing, your body, and your thoughts.

These activities are a great way to put theory into practice during your day-to-day life.

Because of the spaciousness that mindfulness creates around any experience -- you aren't just noticing something, but you are aware that you are noticing it -- it creates balance in the mind without grasping things too tightly, pushing them away, or confusing them with what they aren't. When we are in this state of mind, we meet the moment completely, without being driven by our unconscious prejudices, assumptions, and conditioning.

In this way, every moment becomes a moment of freedom that liberates us from mindless habit. That's why it is the cornerstone for managing stress and creating balance in our lives.

Here are a few proven strategies that will help you develop and hone your skills.

Mindfulness meditation will build your confidence and compassion and strengthen you to be more wholeheartedly present with others you care for when they are suffering. From time to time, it can be helpful to plan a day-long retreat. Simplifying your outer life for a day can help you to discover and develop the richness of your inner life.

[Adapted from the book "Living in Balance" by Joel Levey
and Michelle Levey

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