To meditate

Updated 15. Dec 2021

Set aside ten minutes to calm your mind and focus.

Give yourself some space

The mind is almost never at rest. For most people, thinking is our primary state of being. The problem is not the mind in itself, but the lack of awareness of being deeply consumed by thought. The goal is not detachment and distance, but to get a little breathing space to act mindfully instead of automatically.

Through meditation, we become more aware of how our mind is almost always in motion. Meditation is about getting to know your own mind and practising observation without judgement, without taking part in the thoughts that arise.

It's not about feeling a certain way, but about feeling what one feels, without opposing or judging it. 

How to meditate?

Meditation requires some discipline, the will to return to non-judgemental attention in the moment. When this attention slips, as it does, it proves just how fleeting one’s attention is, and the practise is to become aware of it happening without judging oneself in frustration. 

  1. Find a place you can sit undisturbed for 10-20 minutes. Set the alarm on your mobile phone so you do not have to check the time while meditating. 

  2. Sit comfortably in a chair. Keep your spine straight with your chin pointed down a little so your neck is long and relaxed. Place your feet on the floor, with your hands resting in your lap. Feel free to unbutton your trousers or skirt so you have plenty of room to breathe properly with your stomach.

  3. Take some deep breaths in and out through your nose and close your eyes. Be aware of the contact points between your feet and the floor, your bottom and the chair, your arms and your lap. Notice how it feels, your weight against the floor, the pressure from the chair. 

  4. Pay attention to your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? Is it perhaps in your nostrils, in your chest, or in your stomach? Let your body breathe without controlling the length or the depth. Just rest in the feeling of breathing. 

  5. When you discover that your mind has begun to wander, bring your attention back to your breath again. 

  6. When you focus on your breath, you will notice sensory experiences and feelings (sounds, smells, moods and thoughts). Notice these phenomena without judgement, without pushing them away or being drawn in by them. Practise noticing their presence and leaving them be. Then return to the feeling of breathing.

  7. If your thoughts fly elsewhere, notice this and draw your attention back to your breath again. This is repeated over and over again during the meditation. Getting lost in thought happens so quickly that often it is not even noticed.

  8. Continue with the practise, being constantly aware of your thoughts and feelings, without labelling them as good or bad, and keep your attention focused on your breath.

  9. When the alarm goes off, take a deep breath and draw your attention back into your body. Notice the feeling of your feet on the floor, your bottom on the chair, your arms in your lap and notice how your face feels. Open your eyes slowly. Continue to sit absolutely still and become aware of how long you can take in the world around you without immediately commenting and assessing what you see.  

Read and see more about meditation

Suggestions for guided meditation:

The Headspace channel on YouTube has many short videos with tips. For example, this one about how to face distracting thoughts and feelings. For example this about how to meet distracting thoughts and feelings.

Headspace also has a meditation app.