Updated: Jan 31
Meditation doesn’t require a unique set of skills. It works so well because it enhances what we already have – connection, mindfulness, and compassion. (Sharon Salzberg)
The basic idea behind mindfulness meditation is simple - you sit in a comfortable position and focus on something like your breathing. When your mind wanders, you bring it back to its original task.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is not about achieving a state of bliss (although that can be a pleasant side effect) - it's about training yourself to recognise when you're distracted from what you're doing and, in time, not be so easily distracted. In other words, focus on one thing at a time.
Whether you're just beginning to get into meditation or are already a regular, here are some tips for ensuring you get started and stay on the path.
Be motivated, dedicated, and disciplined even if you don't enjoy it at first (just like eating vegetables or exercising).
Set realistic goals for yourself, and be kind to yourself even if you become uncomfortable, restless, impatient, or emotional.
Let go of yourself and be.
Don't treat it as escaping from reality but as a way to embrace it fully.
Prepare, so you are ready to meditate and don't make excuses not to.
Be consistent - it's better to do 10 minutes per day than one hour a week.
Like physical exercise, 20 minutes will be more beneficial than 10, so try to work your way up to this but start with what is practical for you. 5 minutes is better than nothing.
Keep it simple, to begin with, e.g., breath or relaxation meditation.
Practise the same meditation for at least a week before trying a different one. So you don't get overwhelmed with all the options out there.
Steps to Mindfulness Meditation
Although it may sound complicated, mindfulness meditation doesn’t take a lot of effort. Here's how to get started:
Set a time you can stick to every day when you won't be distracted (at least while beginning your practice – when you become more experienced, you can meditate anywhere anytime).
Create an inviting, dedicated space and decorate it with things that appeal to you and bring you a sense of calm and peace, e.g., candles, incense, flowers, pictures, or anything else that helps you feel relaxed and encourages the ritual. Have this set up ready to go at all times, so you don't have to spend time preparing (or procrastinating!).
Cross-legged on a cushion. If comfortable, you can sit in half or full lotus for a more stable base; with your pelvis/hips tilted forwards and higher than your knees; back upright with a neutral spine (not rigid or slouching - with relaxed shoulders); hands resting on your thighs or cupped in your lap; head floating on your neck with chin tucked in slightly.
Sitting on a chair - feet flat on the ground; sitting forward (not slouched against the back of the chair); back upright with a neutral spine (not rigid or slouching and shoulders relaxed); hands resting on your thighs or cupped in your lap; head floating on your neck with chin tucked in slightly.
Laying down - avoid it if you think it will put you to sleep (unless you are doing a relaxation meditation to get to sleep). However, if sitting is too painful or uncomfortable, this position would be most suitable. Lying on your back (symmetrical, i.e., legs uncrossed, etc.) with your arms beside your body and palms facing upwards (to keep your shoulders relaxed); with a pillow under your thighs or head if you need the extra support for your back or neck.
3. Choose your Anchor Point
This means to choose something to focus on, and each time your mind starts to wander (which it will), bring your focus back to this. You may need to do this ten times or 100 times – it doesn't matter. What matters is that you notice when your mind has wandered and gently bring it back each time. Here are some options:
Breath - breathe in and out through the nose; observe the movement of your breath in your body, e.g. the rise and fall of your belly or chest or the air entering and leaving your nostrils; if your mind is reallyhecticcounting your number of breaths or naming the breath, e.g. breathing in, breathing out.
Senses - notice the sounds around you both inside and outside (without judging, just noticing), smells, touch (your clothes, air, surface you are sitting on).
Body - scan your body, from head to your toes. Notice any tension tightness or sensations in any area of your body.
Object - focus on something like a candle.
Teacher - follow the voice in a guided meditation.
4. Relaxation (optional)
See if you can mentally and physically relax each part of your body each time you breathe out.
5. Rest in the stillness (optional)
Focus on the stillness or silence, e.g. the pause between each breath or thought.
6. Reconnect and reflect
Gently bring your awareness back into your body and the space around you - take some longer, slower breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, wriggle your toes and fingers, stretch if you need to.
Notice any sensations you may be feeling.
Reflect on any insights you may have received or your intention to continue your mindful awareness throughout the rest of your day or night.
Subscribe to the Meditation Sunshine Coast community to receive my Quick Guide to Mindfulness Meditation (bottom of all web pages)
Listen to my free meditations.
Read my 7 Obstacles to Meditation blog post.
Read my Mindfulness Tips for Beginners blog post.
Download my ebook - Cultivating a Calm Mind (see below)
Register for my Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners online program (guided - see event details below)
Enrol in my Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners online course (self-guided)