Here are several simple, practical steps for mindfulness meditation.
I think about the meditation in three steps: preparation, meditation, grounding.
- Find somewhere comfortable where you can meditate for awhile without being disturbed.
- Sit upright, in a comfortable posture. You want to be alert and relaxed.
- Set a timer for 5 - 20 minutes. Start with 5 - 10 minutes if you haven’t meditated before.
- Close your eyes when you’re ready.
- Engage in purpose setting. Ask yourself why you are meditating. Be clear what your purpose is behind your action.
- Engage in expectation setting. Ask yourself what you think will happen. Try to see things objectively.
- Prepare for adversity. You may feel uncomfortable sensations, think unpleasant thoughts, or become distracted. Reminder yourself to return to the breath when that happens.
- Commit to following through. You set a purpose and you’ve prepared for adversity, commit to finishing.
- Start with a broad focus, paying attention to sounds. Note that they are there.
- Narrow your focus to your body.
- Narrow your focus to the parts of your body involved in breathing.
- Move your attention to the point where your breath feels the strongest. Concentrate there for awhile. Try labeling each in breath “in” and each out breath “out.” Or try counting to 10, starting over if you become distracted. You don’t need to control the breath or anything, just let it go naturally.
- As you do this try to note sensations and thoughts as they are. You don’t need to add value judgements.
- If you become distracted, note that you became distracted and then return to the breath. Paraphrasing Marcus Aurelius, you became distracted that is all. You don’t have to tell yourself that it is bad that you became distracted.
- Relax your focus, let it wander to wherever feels natural.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- You may want to wiggle your toes or stretch your body in some way. Do that!
This is a sketch of a meditation practice. The practice gets deeper and there’s a lot more to say, but this is the outline of what I do. If you’re just starting you may want to start with guided meditations.