Here were are again.

Starting over again in the present moment.

The present experience is always brand new.

Here we are again as beginners–all of us.

No matter how many years and hours of meditating you’ve done, each time you sit, it’s the first time.

For those who truly have never meditated before, you have a gift in many ways. You don’t know what you’re walking into, which is why some of our first meditations often feel the best.

But then the judgments and evaluations get smeared all over of our meditations, and we lose that freshness. So let me invite you back to that freshness and that free-ness of this brand new present experience as I talk through the basics of meditation.

How to Meditate Before You Sit Down

It’s hard to believe I’m saying this, but in 2010, I wrote this post about the purpose of meditation in a spiritual practice. If you’re absolutely brand new to the spiritual path, I encourage you to read it, and I encourage you to check out most of the starting out section. They’re important because they will help you to set appropriate intentions and to get the right mindset for developing your spiritual practice.

Meditation is a beautiful part of a spiritual practice, and millions of people have done it for thousands of years in many different spiritual traditions.

Something must be working right.

But in Western Society–a society absolutely lost in the constant grasping for goals and experiences–it’s easy to sit down expecting results.

Actually, it’s not even easy for most people to sit down.

So stopping is in and of itself a vital step. Stopping and slowing down before you meditate will help a lot in having a relaxing meditation, if that is what you want.

However, meditation can have a number of different benefits, and that doesn’t inherently include relaxation or achieving a completely quiet mind.

5 Types of Meditation

While there are many meditation techniques (full lotus, eyes closed; seated in a chair with a soft focus on a single object, and so forth), I’m talking about types of purposes and experiences in this section.

By surrendering to our current moment reality, we’ll find that meditation can serve a number of purposes including:

  • Relaxation and a quiet mind, heart, and body
  • Processing of recent events
  • Practicing coming back to awareness/being the witness
  • Deeper inner work, processing, and release of unresolved issues and attachments
  • Emotional integration
  • Oneness/loss of individuality, and many more

Interestingly enough, attaining enlightenment/spiritual ascension/kundalini awakening/spiritual awakening/spiritual freedom/spiritual liberation or some other transcendent idea are not on my list. That goal-orientation gets in the way of realizing you are spiritually free.

In meditation, you are here to sit and be present with you. And you will find out what is here now regardless of your ego’s goals, which are often a denial of the present moment.

Results May Vary From Meditation to Meditation

Be forewarned, that what you will find in you meditation will vary. What you will find will be what you brought to your meditation.

Surrender to what is coming up.

Consequently, everyone has different experiences. Different emotions, thoughts, and sensations come up during the course of meditation on different days and at different times.

Some people get really uncomfortable physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Other people may check out or fall asleep. From time to time, someone may go into a trance state.

Lots of people count the seconds until they can finally get this stupid thing over with and move on with their day.

Lots of things go on in this space, which, in and of itself, can be humbling. To suddenly see just how much noise, intensity, and potentially pain and suffering is going in you on when you are sitting can be humbling.

Which is why a little bit of courage and self-love is really important as you step into this space.

Spiritual Humility and Life Under God’s Grindstone

Struggling with Uncomfortable Emotions in Meditation

Since I began teaching in 2010, I’ve had more than a few people struggle with emotions coming up when they sit down.

This is part of the emotional body attempting to release and resolve emotional pain.

It’s natural.

It’s necessary.

Many people are so spun up, numbed out, over-stimulated, and in a constant state of fight-or-flight that they can’t feel themselves. When they finally stop moving, they can feel again.

Unfortunately, there are some very unhappy feelings coming up.

If someone has significant, severe, and/or complex trauma, you may want to find a therapist or counselor to support you during your meditation to help you process what is revealing itself.

This arising of issues may not be fun, but on the other side is a deeper sense of relaxation and peace in yourself. For some people after they release an issue, they have big shifts and can feel profound moments of serenity, love, or oneness.

Getting Ready to Sit and Meditate

I know, you’re like, “My God, he still hasn’t gotten to the meditation part yet.”

Well, I have, actually. This preparation work is all part of the meditation. Coming into the space is just as important as being in the space of meditation.

Partially, this is because you’re cultivating a more peaceful state of mind for your whole life.

Meditation is a practice for living a peaceful and compassionate life in your everyday world when things get hectic, cruel, upsetting, scary, overwhelming, and all the usual stuff that life does.

And it’s a really, really intense time. We need to lower the emotional temperature of modern society. People are freaking out.

I’m not telling you that life is going to be easy and that you will simply blissfully float about through your days because you are meditating. You’re a human being. You’re opening yourself to the fullness of your human expression, not controlling yourself to only feel one type of peacefulness.

Additionally, meditation is a foundation to investigate yourself.

Sitting down in meditation is one of the ways where we allow ourselves to calm down enough to think rationally.

Until you’re calm, you’re in some level of fight-or-flight, and that part of the brain does not think well if it can think much at all. It can’t do very much for spiritual inquiry.

In summary, along with the correct mindset for meditation, doing things to wind down, relax the body (exercise, yoga, etc.) so you can sit comfortably, drink water, and so forth can help your body transition into your meditation.

Creating the Space for Your Meditation

Especially if you’re brand new, finding a quiet space to meditate is really helpful. You will very likely have a lot of internal distractions to notice when you start.

When you find that quiet space is up to you. For example, if you are parent, you may have to meditate before the kids get up, after they go to sleep, or during a lunch-time break at work.

There is no correct time to meditate.

The here now is the only time to meditate.

For most, I recommend meditating in the morning for a half hour each day in a quiet part of your apartment or home. I don’t believe one night with a meditation group a week is enough with how stimulating of a culture we live in.

Meditation groups are wonderful, and they’re excellent for developing spiritual community in your life.

However, meditation should never be something that is somewhere else.

Having a meditation practice at home is incredibly important simply from the idea of knowing that that space is close at hand. In the best possible world, you have a meditation group and a personal practice at home.

How to Meditate

Once you’ve got your mental and physical spaces for meditation, you may want a focal point like an altar. Some people like to create these. It’s not necessary, but you can put pictures of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mother Mary, a modern spiritual teacher, and/or other saints on a table to create one.

Most importantly, it’s time to sit. The basics of meditation are essentially this:

  1. Sit with your back straight to allow easy breath and blood flow
  2. Close your eyes (although this isn’t necessary. Some people use a soft gaze focus)
  3. Breathe
  4. Adjust your body with micro-movements (You’re not supposed to be suffering, but fidgeting is a part of an unsettled body. Try small movements to help ensure some body comfort)
  5. Repeat step 3 for 15 minutes if you’re new. Thirty minutes is better.

Experimenting with Different Meditation Techniques

Now, there are numerous styles of meditation.

Chanting can be helpful to drown out the noise of the mind or to work on opening up your voice.

Silently repeating a simple mantra such as “I am that I am” can be another way to focus the mind.

Finding a guided meditation online to listen is useful support.

Visualizations can be yet another way to focus the mind.

There are many different ways to do breath work as part of meditation too. Some of that will be very energizing, and that won’t exactly make you feel quiet and relaxed. It serves other purposes.

If you want help figuring out meditation and the different types, you can reach out to me about a one-on-one session.

I encourage you to find a meditation technique that works for you.

In general, they are all helping to re-trained the mind, and I believe that there are all sorts of interesting studies out there about physiological and psychological benefits of meditation. However, I’m not really interested in setting that framework. I simply want to encourage you to do what all these different types of meditation techniques are doing: be present and pay attention.

As you get better, you will craft your own flavor of meditation, and I definitely recommend silent meditation.

Pay Attention, Pay Attention, Pay Attention

Being present in meditation–and ultimately this can cultivate the space for awakening–has a lot to do with just paying attention.

Your attention is like a flashlight. It directs the light of your awareness on what is going on in your life.

Awareness is the light that can illuminate anything.

Most people aren’t paying attention, and when their minds are busy chattering away in meditation, they get upset. They think they’re doing something wrong. You’re not. You’re simply noticing the big mess in your inner house. Look at all the stuff going on in here.

Part of paying attention is owning this self-created mental and emotional mess.

But let’s go one step at a time. Because it’s easy to get upset by the mess, and it’s also easy to get lost in the mess again. So your mind starts running around and around and around. 

It’s like, “How am I going to fix all of this?!”

Come back to the breath.

Focus again. 

Focus again in this moment. 

The great thing about the present moment is that it’s always here. You can always start again. And we are all always starting again.

Remember that you are renewed in each moment. That last experience is gone already.

We aren’t here to stop the mental chatter by imposing a new set of ideas and spiritual practices. We are here to notice and to pay attention. So we let go of our attention on the thoughts and come back to awareness that can watch everything.

Being Present but not Lost in the Moment

Leaving the Space of Meditation

Perhaps the least talked about part of how to meditate is how to leave it. A lot of traditions encourage you to bow. That’s usually directed to a teacher in a group setting or an altar if you have one. Sometimes it’s directed to the inner teacher. Some traditions will have you make a sound like “Om” to close the space.

Those are wonderful things to do, and I encourage you to find something appropriate for you.

Then step out of meditation mindfully.

Come out from that space slowly to help carry a little more of that peace into your daily life. See if you can be more mindful with the many different elements of your life.

We all know what happens when we go too fast. Accidents happen. People get hurt. We get hurt. I always know that I’m getting ungrounded when I start hitting my shins on the corners of my bed frame. Ouch!

So the meditation isn’t just something you do by yourself and then forget about for the rest of the day. It’s a space that you are learning to cultivate and carry with you throughout your life.

The more you practice coming back to awareness during your meditation, the more likely you are to remember to do that in busier or stressful parts of your life.

And meditation is accessible to everyone.

The awareness, present moment, and the breath is all freely available. They are all right here waiting for you in this moment.

Where else could they ever be?

The Process of Releasing Pain from Your Energy Body


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.

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