Meditation….where to begin?

Meditation can be a confusing practice to start. What do we do? How does it feel? How do I know if I’m doing it right? These are all great questions, fortunately they all have straight forward answers.

Some people start meditation because they  struggle to sleep because of the relentless chatter of thoughts in their head? Some people come home from work unable to relax because of the stress of the day? Others simply want to develop the ability to be mindful, in the moment, and present.

Whatever your reasons for starting, the fundamentals of meditation will be the same.


The first time meditators sit down to practice it is strange. These days we’re surrounded by distractions, phones, TVs, radio and all manner of noises that bombard our senses. So it’s a strange feeling when we sit down in silence with just our thoughts, feelings and chatter.

This is the meditation bubble. The time you’ve decided to take for yourself. The quiet.

In this bubble, meditation gives us the ability to calm our minds, be present in our surroundings and build an awareness of our inner talk and thoughts. This awareness allows us to de-stress, recenter and find new, more constructive perspectives about ourselves, other people, and the world around us.

Most people, most of the time, never take the time to stop and observe. As a result everything is rushed, everything is frantic, and everything gets chaotic. Meditation slows this all down and gives you the ability to find calm, presence, and composure in the chaos.


Mindfulness meditation instructs us to focus on the breath. When we have a thought we just recognise it, and let it pass without grabbing hold of it and letting it lead us down the rabbit hole to other thoughts and distractions.

Over time you will see that your thoughts tend to have patterns, some negative, some positive. You will be able to observe your judgements, perceptions, opinions, and feelings. This awareness allows us to improve these things over time and leaves us with a calm stillness, and relaxed composure.

To begin meditation we:

  1. Sit, or lie comfortably

  2. Take five or six deep breaths in and out

  3. Close our eyes

  4. Focus on the feeling of the breath. For some people, this can be at the nose, the chest or the neck.

That is the foundation of meditation. That’s it.

However, when we first start it’s not that easy. To begin we all experience a bombardment of memories, feelings and ideas that drag our minds along with them in strong currents of thoughts. This is expected.

Meditation is not as easy as making the decision to sit in silence with your eyes closed. It is a practice that takes time. Unfortunately this is the reason why most people quit and believe it doesn’t work. Stick with it, you will get better.

The good news is that the practice of meditation simply requires you to sit and focus on your breath. If you become distracted, just begin again.

After some time you will experience periods of non-awareness where stress, anxiety and the mental chatter we’re so used to will melt away. To begin these glimpses of tranquillity will be short and broken by distraction, thoughts and feelings. However, with more time they will get longer, and longer.

There is no “right” or “wrong” with this. Everyone’s practice is different and everyone begins meditation for different reasons. Some of us have more time than others, while some may find it more difficult to quieten the mind. The important thing is that we all get a benefit from sitting, heightening our awareness and enjoying the rewards.

Remember, if you become distracted, you simply begin again.


The length of your meditation will depend on your circumstances. However beginners often start with as little as 5 minutes while experienced meditators can practice for upwards of an hour.

There is no right or wrong duration. Meditation is a practice that can mould to fit your circumstances. Some of us have demanding jobs, kids, and commitments. I would suggest to start with 10 minutes. After you start to regularly find the periods of non-awareness, you can always jump into 15 or 20 minute sessions.

It’s important to see meditation as a growing practice. Start small and become comfortable in the silence, over time your practice will naturally grow and the benefits will grow with it.

Blocking Point: Some people struggle to find the time to meditate. A good goal is to practice once daily, but if you miss a day, don’t worry, just start as soon as you can. 10 minutes can be easy to find if you look for time in the day where you’d otherwise be distracted, waiting or having downtime.


The bubble of meditation can be placed anywhere. The time and the place is entirely up to you. It could be at home, in the office, on the loo, on the train, in a plane. There is no right or wrong place.

Saying that, most people have a morning or evening practice.

Morning meditation allows us to prepare for the day ahead. It can centre us and give us the benefits of a calm and undisturbed mind to tackle the day ahead more clearly and composed.

Evening meditation allows us to reflect on the day. It helps us unwind after the stresses of life, and it puts us in the right state of mind to spend time with family, do what we need to do at the end of the day, and enjoy a good night’s sleep.


The simple answer is: however you feel comfortable. You can sit on a chair, on the bed, on the floor, cushion, stool or bus seat. Some people think that they have to adopt the cross legged monk pose to access the full power of meditation. This isn’t the case. Just sit however you feel comfortable (as long as you don’t fall asleep).

To begin, it does help to sit with your back straight and rest your hands on your legs or in your lap. This posture allows for good breathing technique and will stop you dozing off.

Blocking Point: Some people get very sleepy during meditation and often nod off while practising. To prevent this it is useful to have an active posture. This means that some of your muscles are engaged to keep you upright. Sitting forward in your chair, or on the floor means that you have a straight back and won’t fall asleep so readily.


While the practice of meditation is normally sat in the same spot for roughly 10 minutes, the benefits don’t stop after your 10 minutes is up.

Meditation helps us during our active meditation time, however it also helps us day to day between our meditation practice. As our mind clear, become less frantic, and our stress levels drop, you will begin to see the benefits of meditation spill into you day to day life.

While walking you might be more present and aware of the environment around you, the crunch of your shoes, or the feel of the breeze. With people you may experience that your listening skills have improved and you really focus on the person in front of you, enjoying the moment.

Meditation sweeps away a lot of the noise and chatter that remove us from being present and aware, and in its place we develop the ability to focus more intently on what’s in front of us.



    1. Set a 10 minute timer

    2. Sit comfortably with a straight back and your hands in your lap

    3. Close your eyes

    4. Focus on your breath, counting 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale

    5. Try and get to 10 and reset.

    6. If you get distracted, just begin again


    1. Set a 10 minute timer

    2. Sit comfortably with a straight back and your hands in your lap

    3. Close your eyes

    4. Pay attention to the pressure of your body pressing down on the chair and your hands in your lap

    5. Starting at the very top of your head imagine a scanning beam is slowly passing down your body.

    6. Slowly go from the top of your head, your ears, torso, arms, belly, legs, and feet.

    7. Pay attention to how each area of your body feels

    8. If you get distracted, just begin again


We all meditate for different reasons. However the benefits will apply to everyone who sits down to practice.

In the 1970’s, Herbert Benson of Harvard University Medical School conducted a series of experiments on people who practised transcendental meditation. What he found was a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the system in our body responsible for our fight or flight response.

This research was fascinating and kicked off a stream of academic study into the practice of meditation. Now we’ve observed that meditation can benefit the following:

  1. Lower blood pressure

  2. Lower heart rate

  3. Less anxiety

  4. Less stress

  5. Lower cortisol levels

  6. Greater feelings of well-being

  7. Better sleep

More recent research shows evidence that meditation even changes the structure of our brain. Sara Lazar of Harvard University Medical School, alongside other researchers found structural differences between the brains of meditators and non meditators. These changes were observed specifically in the thickening of the cerebral cortex associated with attention and emotional integration.

There is now more recent evidence that meditation preserves the atrophy of grey matter in the brain. Increased grey matter in the hippocampus has been observed which is known for learning and memory, the same was seen in areas of the brain responsible for self awareness, compassion, and introspection.


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