It\u2019s widely accepted that America\u2019s first contact with \u201cmindfulness\u201d came in the form of a speech given by Indian guru Swami Vivekananda to the World Conference on Religions held in Chicago in 1893. Vivekananda was on a mission to bring the spiritual practices of his homeland to America\u2014and he succeeded. His speech sparked an interest in Eastern spirituality in the minds of Americans, and between the 1920s and the late 1950s, dozens of books and pamphlets were published on the lives and feats of Indian yogis and gurus. Some touched on the practice of meditation, some on the practice of asana (yoga postures), but it wasn\u2019t until Richard Hittleman\u2019s books in the late 1960s and his groundbreaking 1970 television show \u201cYoga for Health\u201d that yoga and mindfulness practices caught fire and swept across the U.S. The positive effect of yoga and meditation on the lives of millions of Americans was impossible to ignore. In the 1970s, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts, began a scientific study of these techniques, which he later integrated into a system he called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Now, MBSR\u2014or mindfulness practice, as it\u2019s also known\u2014is in use by addiction treatment centers, addiction therapists and addiction experts across the world. This article presents a simple introductory to seated meditation exercise. It\u2019s perfect for beginners, and requires no previous knowledge of yoga or meditation. This exercise takes 10 to 15 minutes, and can be used in a variety of contexts:\r\n\r\n \tIn the morning, to start your day\r\n\r\n\r\n \tAt midday, to center yourself\r\n\r\n\r\n \tIn the evening, to calm your mind before bed\r\n\r\n\r\n \tTo clear the mind before journaling for step work, if you\u2019re in a 12-step program\r\n\r\nSeated Meditation: Clearing the Mind\r\nHow to do it:\r\n\r\n \tGreat news! You don\u2019t have to sit cross-legged on the floor. You can if you want to, but what matters most is that you are totally, 100 percent at ease, with no physical discomfort.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tFind a chair that allows you to sit easily upright, with your spine as straight as you can get it. Not stiff, just upright. Your knees should be at about the same height as your hips, or better yet, a little lower. You should be sitting on your sit-bones, not leaning back on your buttocks.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tRoll your shoulders; loosen up your neck; do an easy stretch\u2014whatever feels right. When you\u2019re ready, place your palms, facing down, on your knees or thighs.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tClose your eyes, and begin to pay attention to your breathing. Take a few big, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose, expanding your chest as fully as you can, and exhale through your mouth. Each time you inhale, you\u2019ll gain length in your spine\u2014as you exhale, try to keep this length, while staying relaxed. Take four or five breaths like this: big inhalations through your nose, expanding your chest, big exhalations through your mouth.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tNow, change your breath. As you inhale, allow your lower abdomen to expand, and as you exhale, allow it to contract. Breathe like this until you get the hang of it\u2014it shouldn\u2019t take more than five or six breaths\u2014it will quickly feel natural. This is called belly breathing, and it\u2019s the style of breathing most commonly found in meditation.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tOnce you get used to breathing like this, start to count as you inhale and exhale. Inhale on a slow four-count, and exhale on a slow four-count. Do this until you are comfortable controlling your inhalations and exhalations. You may inhale and exhale on counts greater than four, but not less. Start with four; if that\u2019s difficult, make it your goal.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tNow that you\u2019re used to sitting still and controlling your breath, it\u2019s time to really start the exercise, which is called \u201cThe 10-Breath Practice.\u201d The goal is to keep your mind focused fully on your breathing for 10 breaths, and the way it\u2019s accomplished is by giving the mind something to focus on while you breathe. If your mind wanders, it does not matter\u2014all that matters is that you bring it back to the exercise. It does not matter how many times it wanders. Every time, just call it back, gently and peacefully. Ready? Here we go.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tAs you inhale and exhale evenly on a four-count\u2014four slow counts in, four slow counts out\u2014imagine the number \u201c1\u201d as a picture in your mind. Personalize your picture: it can be a simple number on a blackboard, like in grade school, it can be a bright, colorful, flashing, neon sign, it can be a cartoon, it can be drawn with a Sharpie on a piece of poster board, it can be crayon on construction paper, or it can be an elaborate painting hanging on a wall in a museum. The sky is the limit, and it\u2019s all up to you. All that matters is that you see the number \u201c1\u201d in your mind, some way, somehow.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tRepeat this process for the numbers \u201c2\u201d through \u201c10.\u201d Remember: If your mind wanders, it does not matter\u2014all that matters is that you bring it back to the exercise. It does not matter how many times it wanders. Every time, just call it back, gently and peacefully, to the number where you left off.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tWhen you finish your exhalation after the number \u201c10,\u201d take a moment to sit still. Slowly, at your own pace, open your eyes, and let your breathing return to whatever feels natural. Do a quick mental inventory: how does your mind feel? Do a quick physical inventory: how does your body feel? Do an easy stretch, like you did at the beginning of the exercise.\r\n\r\nBenefits of Mindfulness\r\nCongratulations! You\u2019ve just finished a practice that has been scientifically proven as an effective strategy in the treatment of the effects of stress, anxiety and depression. If it was challenging for you, don\u2019t worry\u2014the important thing is that you did it. Here\u2019s a secret: almost no one can actually focus only on his or her breathing for 10 breaths. In fact, there\u2019s an old saying: \u201cOne who can breathe 10 times without the mind wandering has achieved enlightenment.\u201d So, if your mind went away for a little while, don\u2019t sweat it. Use this exercise in your recovery, whenever you want to clear your mind, calm your emotions and center yourself. And remember: sometimes recovery is not just one day at a time, or even one step at a time\u2014sometimes it\u2019s as simple as taking one breath at a time.