Learn to Meditate in 5 Simple Steps

by WITHIN Cofounder Hannah Knapp

A meditation practice may sound like a good idea, but how do you actually do it? What are you supposed to do, the first time you meditate? How do you sit? What do you focus on? How do you know if you're doing it right?

These are the kinds of questions we get all the time in our studio. We've put together a step-by-step guide to help you try out mindfulness meditation, based on what we tell people in class. Here's what to do:

  1. Sit comfortably: Find a position where you feel upright, but relaxed. That could be in a chair, with both feet planted on the floor; or on the floor, with your back resting against a wall; or on a meditation cushion, sitting cross-legged. Any position where you feel really stable and alert is great.

  2. Close your eyes, or lower them: Blocking out visual stimulation helps you notice more about what's going on inside your head and your body.

  3. Notice your feet: Can you feel them touching the floor, or touching your legs? Notice that sensation.

  4. Notice your breath: Where can you feel it most easily - in your gut? in your chest? as it goes in and out of your nose or mouth?

  5. Follow your breath: Let your attention rest on the rhythm of your breath wherever you can sense it most easily. Just watch it going in and out, without trying to change it or control it. Anytime your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath.

Sit this way until you feel ready to stop - and then, take two more breaths, before you wiggle your fingers and toes and open your eyes.

When you meditate for the first time, you'll notice that your thoughts keep wandering. When new students bring this up in our classes, you can see  everyone in the room nodding - they're experiencing that, too. It's totally normal! You may assume you're doing it wrong, but in fact, you're just noticing your mind in a way that you haven't before.

Keep practicing, and you'll gradually catch your mind wandering, and bring it back to the present moment, more and more quickly. As you do, you'll spend more and more of your time in the present, rather than off in those pesky thoughts. And that's how you'll know you're building your meditation muscle.

At WITHIN, we love helping people new to meditation get started. Join us for a class this week and we'll give you the guidance and support you need to stop just thinking about meditating, and start doing it.