1. Practice daily, even if for a short time
The poet Rumi asks: Do you make regular visits to yourself? Whether it’s 5-
minutes, 15-minutes, or 45-minutes, what most matters is the rhythm of a daily
practice. It’s helpful to have a preset time, rather than leaving it for when you’re
“in the mood”; and to practice in a place that is quiet, protected and conducive to
2. Attitude is everything
The biggest reason people quit meditation is because they judge themselves for
how they are practicing. Please don’t turn meditation into a “should,” another
domain of self-critique! Instead, choose to cultivate mindfulness because you care
about living true to your heart. At the start of each sitting, remind yourself of what
draws you to meditate. And then set your intention to be kind and accepting toward
however your meditation unfolds.
3. Pay attention to your posture
When many people think of meditating, they imagine a yogi sitting cross-legged on
the floor. In reality, you can meditate in any position that feels comfortable to you
(including standing and walking) as long as it promotes a sense of alertness,
openness, and ease. For sitting, you might choose to use a chair or kneeling
bench, or a cushion on the floor. Sit upright, in a way that allows you to feel alert
and relaxed. Let your hands rest comfortably on your knees or lap. Let your eyes
close, or if you prefer, leave the eyes open, the gaze soft and receptive.
Periodically come back to check your posture, as a way of staying connected to
4. Arrive in your body
Scanning your body with your awareness will help you shift out of thinking and
connect with vitality, openness and relaxation. You might begin by bringing a
smile to your lips, as this sends a message of ease to your entire nervous system.
And then, starting at the scalp, move your attention slowly downward, relaxing and
softening different parts of the body. As you relax, become aware, from the inside
out, of the sensations and energy moving through your body.
5. Select an Anchor for presence
Your anchor is a “home-base” that you can return to when you notice that you have
been distracted or lost in thought. This will help you quiet your mind and more
fully open to the present moment.
Useful anchors are:
• The breath. You might choose to pay attention to the sensations of the breath
as it enters and leaves your nostrils, or the rise and fall of your chest as you
are breathing. For some, it is helpful to attend to the experience of the whole
• The body. You might place your attention on the sensations in a particular
part of your body – perhaps your hands, feet, belly or lips. Choose an area
that feels neutral, not particularly pleasant or unpleasant. (You can combine
body with the breath.)
• Sounds – Listening to the sounds around you as they arise and fall away.
6. Keep coming back
While quieting the mind supports meditation, there is a misconception that the goal
of meditation is to get rid of thoughts. The mind secretes thoughts like the body
secretes enzymes! Please don’t be at war with thoughts. Instead of judging when
you find you’ve been distracted, bring an interest and friendliness to the shift from
thoughts to presence.
When you recognize that you have been lost in thought, gently “relax back” by
returning your attention to the sounds, sensations and feelings that are actually
happening in the present. Allow your anchor to be in the foreground, and become
aware of your changing moment-to-moment experience.
7. Deepen mindful presence with two key questions:
• What is happening inside me right now? This will help direct your attention
to your inner experience. You might experiment with naming or noting
strong waves of experience, — “fear” “sorrow” “tingling” “tightness”
“sounds” “worry thoughts” — as a way to awaken a clear presence.
• Can I be with this? This will help you relate to what arises with acceptance.
After naming an experience (such as fear or tension) you might explore
whispering the word yes, or it’s ok.
8. Remember Kindness
If you encounter difficult emotions such as fear, confusion, sadness or hurt, offer
yourself kindness. You might put a hand gently over your heart and send a
message of care to the vulnerable place inside you. Mindfulness and heartfulness
are inseparable: the more you bring these qualities to your inner life, the more they
will enrich your relationships and ripple out into our world.