The 'three-minute breathing space' exercise is a common introduction to the discipline
Introductory courses will invite participants to sit comfortably on cushions or a chair, with an erect posture and eyes closed. A common exercise is the "three minute breathing space" which contains key elements of mindfulness meditation. The first minute is spent focusing on where you are sitting, the contact between your body and the seat and the sensation of your feet on the floor. In the second minute the idea is to bring your awareness to your breath as you let it in and out. The idea is to let your focus rest on one breath at a time to develop "moment to moment" awareness.
Inevitably, your mind will wander and the course leader will invite you to simply acknowledge where it went and gently bring your attention back to the breath without being critical that this has happened. Practitioners identify awareness of the mind wandering as a key insight, because it helps you realise that thoughts can be seen as phenomena that are separate from you.
The third minute involves expanding awareness from the breath and across the rest of your body, observing how it feels, but breathing, moment to moment.
A meditation class. The idea is to develop 'moment to moment awareness'.p Photograph: Dougal Waters/Getty Images