How to Meditate

Here’s some practical guidance to establish a daily sitting practise of meditation. By Norwich’s yoga teacher, Jackie Heffer-Cooke

How to meditate

First lesson in How to Meditate… Prepare Yourself

Before even attempting to do any practice it’s important to understand that your practice is not a performance. Each practice doesn’t need to be evaluated about whether it was a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation.

If there is any goal at all to the practice it’s simply to learn

For example, if someone is using their breath as an object of attention, the goal is not to stay on the breath for a long period of time, it’s to learn about what it’s like to settle attention on the breath. If the mind wanders a lot, then you learn how busy the mind is. If it wanders a lot on a particular topic, you learn to what degree that topic is on your mind. If it is on your mind a lot you learn that whatever it is, it needs attending to and you can later make the choice to focus on it.

Everyone’s mind wanders, even people who have been meditating for 50 years. It’s part of what the brain does. In fact, you could make the argument that the more it wanders the more you have an opportunity to train the mind to see “choice points” to gently bring it back. What you practice and repeat becomes a habit and so you’re strengthening the habit of choice.

Every day we set up our external world. We know how to make our bed, what we like to feed ourselves on and where to buy it, what job we want to aim towards and how we are going to spend our weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put so much conscious awareness into setting up our internal world.

How to establish Meditation practice

Meditation is concentration and focus, learning how to bring our awareness to that one thing: Breath, Ohm, Body, love – when it is no longer effort it is meditation

  1. Start a journal, make notes before and after meditation and learn to examine your body and mind like a science.
  2. Make a ritual – a time – regularity of practise is good, a place – a meditation space, a cushion, an aroma, a piece of music.
  3. Sit comfortably.

Step One – Meditate on the breath.

Hereafter there are lots of different ways to meditate and in YogaBuds we look at this every month, or you can always sign up for a YogaBuds Retreat or Meditation for Mums workshop. There are also lots of online resources.

First, with meditation on the breath, just develop your awareness of when your mind wanders, and practise bringing your awareness back to your breath. Counting your breath may help you do this, or repeating in your mind “breathing in pause, breathing out pause”. This first step is recognising how tricky it is to keep the mind centered, and the skill is to start learning to witness as soon as the mind wanders and concentrate on bringing it back to your breathing meditation. This is mindfulness. Awareness, and being present in the moment – rather than letting your mind constantly run into the past, or the future. Be here. Right here, right now. This is your experience, it’s the only one you can ever be in, so be fully aware of it and learn how to bring this mindfulness and meditation into your life to prevent your mind running away with you, flitting uncontrollably here and there tugging emotions with you wherever it goes.

Book onto a meditation class, a yoga class, or download a meditation by Jackie, to help your practise.