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AWAKE from Anxiety





Meditation can have many beneficial effects and in particular it can help you stay calm and de-stress if you are anxious or stressed. Here is an example of a simple basic meditation practice:

Basic Meditation Practice

1. Allocate a space of anywhere from 1-20 minutes in a day when you are going to try out meditation (choose whatever you think is a realistic time period for you - if you have never meditated before, it may be easier to start with a relatively short time period). If possible find a quiet place where you will be better able to focus without distractions.

2. Sit or kneel with your back straight and relax your shoulders (if your health or physique prevents you adopting this posture then find an alternative posture that is comfortable for you) - for further informaton about meditation posture go to: Meditation Posture.

3. Close your eyes if this helps you to focus.

4. Breathe slowly and seek if possible to breathe from your diaphragm (in which case your stomach will rise and fall as you breathe) rather than your upper chest area - you can place a hand on your stomach if you wish, to feel it rise and fall. Notice your stomach rising and falling, observe any sensations involved and the feeling of the air entering and exiting through your mouth or nose. This essentially is what the meditation involves - just observing your act of breathing and focusing on that.

6. At the end of each out-breath just wait for your lungs to empty, instead of deliberately taking an in-breath. You will find that your lungs empty and then start to fill again naturally as the in-breath starts without you forcing it.

7. If you find it hard to focus simply on your breathing in the above way, you may find an additional focus that helps is to count each breath. You can do this in whatever way helps you most to focus on the breathing/counting. For example, you could for your first breath breathe in saying '1' to yourself as you do so, then saying '1' again as you breathe out. For your second breath you would then say '2' to yourself as you breathe in and again '2' as you breathe out, and so on up to 10 then start again. Alternatively, you might just say the number on the 'in-breath' or just on the 'out-breath'.

8. Continue your breathing/counting meditation for whatever set period you have decided on - perhaps 10-20 minutes, although it could be 5 minutes if you think that is too much. Or even just 1 or 2 minutes, if you are just starting.

9. During the process focus your attention on your breathing (and on your counting if you are counting). Pay attention to the sensation of your stomach rising and falling and the feeling of the air entering and exiting through your mouth or nose. It is likely that you will find your mind wandering - if/when that happens just draw it back gently to focus on your counting and your breath - try not to criticise yourself if your mind wanders (it is natural), just refocus in a gentle non-judgemental way.

10. At the end of your allotted time period gently finish your meditation, opening your eyes and looking around you to reorientate yourself. If you can, carry any feelings of calm through into your next activity and the rest of the day.

Tip: Use a stopwatch or alarm/timer (e.g. on a smartphone) to time yourself when doing formal meditation for a set period. That way you can focus on the meditation and let the alarm tell you when the allotted period has ended.

Important Point: Whilst in meditating you are trying to focus on specific things such as your breathing or counting, the process is not about 'success' or 'failure'. If you find your mind wandering sometimes, that does not mean you have 'failed' (just try to refocus on your breathing when that happens and if possible smile at the naughtiness of your mind in wandering). Equally, in the unlikely event that you manage to meditate without your mind wandering at all, this does not mean that you have 'succeeded', just that for a period of time you followed the process that you were intending to follow. Meditation is not about 'success' or 'failure' - it is about trying a process.


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