A Simple Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

By Mary Jaksch

Mindfulness meditation is a simple and effective way to meditate. Whether you want to become calmer, be more present, or simply become grounded, mindfulness meditation will help you.

How long should you meditate for?

If this is your first experience of meditation, just meditate for short periods of time, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. As you get more experienced, you can lengthen the time you spend meditating to 25 or 30 minutes.

Here are seven simple tips that will enhance your experience:

#1 Sit upright

Upright posture helps the mind to come to rest. You can either sit on the ground with a firm cushion to elevate your back side, or sit on a straight-backed chair. The main thing is to keep your spine upright but relaxed. It’s much easier to keep your mind focused if you’re upright.

#2 Pay tender regard to your body

It’s helpful to connect with your body in order to settle into meditation. Start at your feet and slowly scan the body with your mind. What do your feet feel like? What do you legs feel like? Let the soft light of your attention move slowly through your whole body.

#3 Be still

When you first start to meditate, you may feel fidgety and may want to adjust your posture constantly. It’s really important to be still physically during meditation. Every time you move, your mind responds with random thoughts. So stay steady and still.

#4 Be silent

Outer silence helps you to become silent within. In our Western culture, silence has become rare. In order to become still within, make sure that you are in a quiet environment. It’s only when you are still that we can become aware of your mind.

#5 Focus on your breath

Pay tender regard to your breath flowing in and out. Your breath is a doorway to stillness. Notice what your breath feels like in your nose, chest, and belly.

#6 Let go of inner chatter

Mindfulness meditation means becoming aware of the present moment, without judgment.Notice your thoughts coming and going. When you notice that you are caught up in an inner dialogue, gently let the story go.

# 7 Bring your attention back when it wanders.

Gently bring your mind back to your breath whenever it strays into the past or the future. Our mind tends to wander. That’s a natural condition. If you train yourself to gently return your soft attention to the breath, your mind will become steadier. And you will be able to immerse yourself in the present moment.

Meditation is a practice. It takes time to learn it.

When you first start out, mindfulness meditation will feel strange. And it may be quite a shock to become aware of how often the mind spends time in the past or future – instead of in the present moment.

Set yourself a regular schedule, but make sure this schedule is ‘too easy’, and ‘too short’. If you want to create a habit of daily meditation, you’re much more likely to be successful if you treat yourself with kindness and don’t demand the impossible.

When you learn to immerse yourself in the present moment – whatever it is like – you will experience a deep joy and peacefulness. As well, meditation has immense health benefits: it strengthens the immune system, lowers your blood pressure and pulse rate, and lifts your mood.

Meditation is a wonderful gift to yourself!

If you want to start meditating the easy way, CLICK HERE to get the Goodlife ZEN Meditation Guide.

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  1. Lucy says:

    This is a lovely and accessible guide to beginning meditation! Love the advice to create a schedule that is ‘too easy’, and ‘too short’. The only ‘tip’ I might add is to try and avoid judging your progress. It’s easy at first to think “I’m not doing it right because my mind won’t shut up” and then give up. I think when you let go of the concept of ‘achievement’ or ‘progress’, it becomes easier to just sit, just because.
    Lucy´s last blog post ..Do Goals Create A Painful Reality Gap

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by cldunmire and Justified Lions, Positive Thinking. Positive Thinking said: A Simple Guide to Mindfulness Meditation http://bit.ly/dE1ZlC […]

  3. Kay says:

    Perfect little meditation post with simple, concrete and effective techniques–perfect update to the Zen Retreat I did with you a year ago that really got me into daily meditation after years of dabbling. “Tender regard” and “soft attention” lead to such a difference in approach and make meditation into a healing practice. I feel myself slipping into a meditation just reading the post. Thank you.

  4. Taran says:

    Nice post… Thanks.

  5. Thanks Mary. Very timely. I love your articles! Reading is easy. Implementing is hard. In this regard, two subtle but powerful facts that I gathered from your article are as under;
    1. Set yourself a regular schedule, but make sure this schedule is ‘too easy’, and ‘too short’. If you want to create a habit of daily meditation, you’re much more likely to be successful if you treat yourself with kindness and don’t demand the impossible.
    2. Meditation strengthens the immune system, lowers your blood pressure and pulse rate, and lifts your mood.

    I would add Emotional Freedom Technique also to bring us into the present moment. It works for me like magic.

  6. Crazy Eddie says:

    Those are excellent introductory tips. Releasing the mind chatter is often the hardest part for beginners. What I like to tell people is before you try to silence the mind chatter to first become aware of it as an observer. Take a step back and notice the mind chatter and observe its nature. Getting into the space of being an observer of the chatter puts some distance between you and the chatter and this perspective then makes it easier to shut it off. It shouldn’t be a matter of forcefully stopping the chatter (which can be hard) but rather separating oneself from it and then tuning it out. It’s a subtle difference but helpful to some. Thanks for your article.

    WhiteFeatherNews.com

  7. Dave Pawson says:

    Looking to have them on one screens worth I softened them to read whilst studying them and meditating. This is the result. Thanks Mary.

    #1 Sit upright
    Upright posture helps the mind come to rest. Sit on the ground with a
    firm cushion or on a straight-backed chair. Keep your spine upright
    but relaxed.

    #2 Pay tender regard to your body.
    Connect with your body in order to settle into meditation. Scan the
    body with your mind. What do your feet feel like? Your legs? Your
    stomach and chest, gently relaxed. Your shoulders and neck, face and
    forehead, comfortably resting. Let the soft light of your
    attention move slowly through your whole body.

    #3 Be still and quiet.
    When you are still you become aware of your mind.

    #4 Be silent
    Outer silence helps you gain silence within.

    #5 Focus on your breath
    Pay tender regard to your breath flowing in and out as a doorway to
    stillness. Feel your breath move gently in your nose, chest and belly.

    #6 Let go of inner sounds.
    Be awarene of the moment, without judgment. Accept your thoughts then
    gently let them go. Accept the sights and sounds around you then
    remain still.

    #7 Gently retain your focus.
    Bring your mind back to your breath when it strays. If you return
    your soft attention to your breath, your mind will be steadier and you
    can immerse yourself in the present moment.

    Now pay tender regard to your body.

    #8 Retain this calm until you feel like returning. Accept that,
    appreciate the relaxed feeling and return to full acuity with peace.

  8. sandy says:

    my “meditation” is mountain hiking :)

    walking in the nature clears my mind and bring peace to me.

    but since I can’t go mountain hiking everyday, I love to try “real meditation” too~ for I easily get overwhelmed from my daily fast paced life.
    sandy´s last blog post ..start moving your stone

  9. Kat Eden says:

    Hi Mary,

    I have found meditation very tough to do over the years. I think this is the flipside of being a ‘go-go-go’ sort of person; I find it really hard to stop! The thing that has worked best for me and been the most powerful has been to meditate by finding something to focus on; this seems to slow my busy mind. I love to lay on my back in my courtyard and focus on the clouds changing shape. That can nearly put me to sleep in an instant, and I feel amazing when I go back to my writing.

    It’s so peaceful.

    Kat
    Kat Eden´s last blog post ..Get 39 Off My Lean Living Seminar – Plus 2 Weeks Personal Training FREE!

  10. Thank you Mary for your insight…

    I call it my Daily Calm Hour, and by prioritizing this in my life, and by making it a disciplined habit, I find that I am able to then approach each day with clarity, assuredness and peacefulness.
    Peter G. James Sinclair´s last blog post ..The 5 Essential Life Disciplines That Help You To Be Successful

  11. Gwen says:

    Hi Mary,
    Loved this post. Your previous posts on meditation were instrumental in getting me started on my path in meditation. Simple tips really helped.
    Hope that you are ok in your part of the world, after all the earthquakes.
    Thinking of you,
    Gwen

  12. Hey Mary! I may have asked you this before, but are you familiar with Jiddu Krishnamurti? He believed that meditation is more Being than Acting.

    Here’s something he said in one of his books, This Light in Oneself:

    “Meditation is not something that you do. Meditation is a movement into the whole question of our living: how we live, how we behave, whether we have fears, anxieties, sorrows; whether we are everlastingly pursuing pleasure; and whether we have built images about ourselves and about others. This is all part of our life, and in the understanding of that life and the various issues involved in life, and actually being free from them, we inquire into meditation.”

    Here’s a link to a short bio and list of quotes by Jiddu Krishnamurti:
    http://financialphilosopher.typepad.com/thefinancialphilosopher/jiddu-krishnamurti.html

    Cheers…

    Kent
    Kent @ The Financial Philosopher´s last blog post ..What is the Price of Pursuing Happiness

  13. Thanks Mary. This is a wonderful meditation guide, even for beginners. Simple, relaxing, restorative.
    Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog post ..10 Awesome Natural Remedies from the Doctor Oz Show

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  15. This is lovely Mary. The mind is a wanderer, for sure, but maybe part of the reason is I haven’t really been present, there hasn’t been a home for my mind to come home to. I do find that if I am still everything changes. Even if my mind is busy the door of home is open so to speak.

    Thanks again for a lovely post. You have such a clear way of expressing yourself. A bit like my wife. She’s very good at succinct.
    Christopher Foster´s last blog post ..Are we really alone

  16. Justlife says:

    Hi Mary, kudos for the simple and nice tips for meditation, at least it looks easy and achievable, not intimidating :) . I’m wondering whether meditation will help those who are suffering from depression. Anyway, will research more about it. Thanks~

  17. I have tried meditation too many times to count. The “being still” and “letting go of inner chatter” always trip me up. I’m good for a few minutes, and then my brain starts to rebel.

    I’m glad you remind me that all this takes time. I just can’t give up.

    Bob
    Satisfyingretirement´s last blog post ..Building a Satisfying Retirement- How to Make The Most of This New Phase of Your Life

  18. Satish Medos says:

    Hey Mary,
    I have already hashed out my plan to begin with meditation this week and this primer is quite helpful. Thanks a lot.
    Satish Medos´s last blog post ..Come on yeah let the good times roll -

  19. Excellent guide, Mary. I’ll definitely share this with others.

    One of the most common responses I receive when recommending meditation to family or friends is that they don’t have the time for it. What’s is so important for people to know is that you can meditate almost anywhere. I regularly meditate on the bus, or even sitting at my desk if my workday becomes stressful.

    Meditation can be practiced in many forms and it’s important that newcomers not be intimidated by the perception that meditation means sitting for hours on a mountaintop.

  20. […] of mind, but if you don’t have time to meditate find out what will work best for you to begin cultivating mindfulness and […]

  21. Marko says:

    Thanks for the great post. One question though from a meditation beginner: how do you know when to finish the meditation?

    • While there are benefits to sitting for specific and sometimes long periods, I don’t believe it is something you should concern yourself with as a newcomer to meditation. Rather than focus on a specific time and setting an alarm, I prefer to count breaths. It is much more pleasant to arrive at a certain breath count and end your practice than to be abruptly alerted by an alarm.

      My favorite method for deciding how long I should sit was suggested to me by Susan O’Connell from the San Francisco Zen Center. She recommends sitting until you have an urge to end your practice. When you get that urge, gently set it aside and continue to meditate. When the urge comes a second time, set it aside once again and continue to practice. On the third time, go ahead and end your practice.

      But again I would suggest that the length of your practice is not something you should be too concerned with as you begin to explore meditation. I believe that consistency is of much more value. Sitting for 5 to 10 minutes every day will prove much more beneficial than sitting for 2 hours once a week.

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