How to Practice Sitting Meditation
Are you ready to learn how to meditate?
Follow this step by step guide to add the gift of meditation to your life.
This basic meditation simply involves sitting down and focusing the attention on the present moment. Like a floating ship at sea, the breath becomes the anchor.
Sitting meditation is a foundational practice. Like the cornerstone brick in a building, “sitting” is the rock in a new mindfulness routine.
To “sit,” you only need three things: a firm chair, a timer, and a quiet place to meditate. (Yes, I know comfy chairs are tempting, but a firm chair will keep your posture in line.)
Don’t overthink the location-nothing is ever totally quiet. That said, pick a place that is conducive to calm. A prime spot could be a bedroom, attic, or even a peaceful space outside.
Start with a short time goal of 5 to 10 minutes. As you work your way up, a reasonable goal can be 25 to 30 minutes. Just try to make 40 minutes the maximum amount of time you sit.
Practice this meditation at least once every day. If you miss a session, don’t beat yourself up. Simply ease back into your routine the next day.
When you find yourself wanting to skip, acknowledge what’s happening without judgment. Notice how powerful this resistance can be.
It can be helpful to give voice to the resistance. Try saying aloud, “I don’t want to sit today because…” Recognize that there may be logic behind your reason. Then, sit anyway.
And remember to be gentle with yourself. Sometimes your mind will be calm, but most of the time it will wander. This is normal. That’s what minds do!
Are you ready to get going?
Step One-Sit in a firm chair
Sit upright in a firm chair. Take a moment to really straighten your back. Place your feet flat on the floor and relax your hands in your lap.
Take a deep breath, and on the exhalation, relax the muscles throughout your body. Close your eyes or loosely focus on the floor a few feet in front of you. Be in the moment. There is only now.
Step Two-Shift your awareness to the breath
Begin to focus on the physical sensations of the breath-anchoring your attention on the inhalation and exhalation. Take long, deep breaths. There is no race.
Notice the sensations. How does it feel when the air comes in and out through the nose? Is it warm or cool? How does it feel when your chest and belly rise and expand? Really connect with your breath.
Step Three-Begin to count each inhalation and exhalation
Start to count each breath. One inhalation and one exhalation is a cycle. Inhale, exhale…one. Inhale, exhale…two. Inhale, exhale…three.
You will notice your mind start to wander time and time again. That’s ok. Simply refocus your attention on the breath. It is your anchor. Observe like an onlooker. You don’t need to fix or change anything.
Step Four-Transition out of meditation
When your timer goes off, gently begin to transition from meditation. Take your time. Slowly and gently shift your attention back to wherever you are. With great kindness and compassion, commend yourself for taking this special time for YOU.
Congratulations! You did it! You have just completed your first sitting meditation. I’m proud of you.
Remember that mindfulness will get easier with practice. Like anything in life, becoming comfortable with meditation takes time and patience. Keep up the good work!
To your mindfulness,
PS. I’d love to hear about your thoughts about this meditation. How did it feel? What was your biggest challenge?