The practice of mindfulness helps people feel better because it interrupts thinking habits that make people feel worse. Thoughts and feelings are like water and waves. The waves of feeling are composed of the water of the thought. If you suffer from stress, anxiety, anger or depression then your thoughts are continually churning up painful waves of emotions. In order to change the quality of the waves, you need to change the content of the thoughts. If good thoughts are hard to come by, you can still calm your mind by thinking nothing at all. To think nothing, rest your attention on the present moment. There is a quality of peace available in that moment wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.
It is not easy to change the habits of your mind, but it can be done simply. The simple practice of mindfulness is taking a moment to see where you are. In that moment, don’t think about how you got there or where you are going, just check your surroundings. Breathe in deeply to see if there is any oxygen where you are. If you can breathe in some oxygen, then you have something nice in your life. You don’t need to hold on to that oxygen, because there is more, so you let it out. In that moment there is nothing but breathing in and breathing out. If you manage to take a mindful, thoughtless breath, with the intention of finding some peace in the moment, you will likely experience some peace in that moment.
If you are able to clear your thoughts for that moment, then, in the next moment, you can see what kind of thought comes to you. If it is a disturbing thought, you can take another breath and try again. The beauty of the present moment is it carries on forever. You are always experiencing something. There is always some place to rest your attention that can take you beyond your thoughts. As you practice finding some peace in the present moment again and again, you will gain enough strength to start thinking some nice thoughts. For every painful thought that occurs to you, you can counter it with a kind and compassionate thought until the painful thoughts give up. The present will carry on, offering opportunities to find peace in each moment.