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How, when and where to meditate

This resource includes some instructions on how best to meditate and some ideas on how you can skilfully relate to difficulties in meditation.

Meditation is a lifelong adventure with ups and downs, and in the long run it has the potential to bring you more peace and consciousness in your life.

Helpful tip!

Many people feel like giving up at first when they begin a meditation practice. Even if you have let go of meditation for a while or have felt like giving up with mindfulness at times, you can always begin again.

How to meditate - finding the right posture for you

How to meditate - finding the right posture for you

Normally at the beginning of a meditation it will be indicated which posture is best to use. You can best meditate in a posture that is relaxed and alert.

  • This could be sitting on a chair with your back straight (head in line with spine, hands lying on thighs or folded in lap).
  • Some meditations, such as a body scan, can also be done in a lying posture where you could use a mat or a blanket, and others might even been done standing or moving.
  • Your eyes can be closed or slightly open (with gaze on ground).

Take a posture that is helpful for YOU at each particular moment and find a time where you will not be disturbed by anyone (perhaps put your phone offline).

Helpful tip!

We recommend that you first take an 8-week mindfulness course or join a live meditation session (i.e. one of our retreat days or weekends) with an experienced teacher. You can find all our upcoming courses at the following link: www.brusselsmindfulness.be/agenda . This will give you knowledge on how to meditate and help you set up a regular meditation practice with the support of a group.

How to meditate - Make use of grounding “anchors”

Need to calm the mind? It is helpful to select one or several meditation anchors that allow you to stabilize and steady the mind at first.

Here are some examples of anchors:

  • the breath: concentrate on your breathing wherever you feel it most (could be in your nostrils, the rising/ falling of the chest/belly, or experience of entire body as you breathe).
  • other physical sensations: as they arise in various parts of the body (e.g. hands/feet or other areas).
  • combine breath with body sensations: for example in the hands or feet.
  • sounds: as they arise around or within you.
How to meditate - Make use of grounding “anchors”

You will soon notice that your attention is present with the experience of the anchor for a short time and then will wander away from it. This is natural and part of the process. When you notice this, you can take an internal note of where your mind went and then gently escort your attention back to your anchor.

Helpful tip!

It is important to be kind to yourself in this process and not to judge yourself when you are distracted. This remembering and coming back over and over will develop the muscle of mindfulness, and in time the mind will naturally settle and quiet down easier.

Listen to what you need

If for any reason concentrating on a particular anchor is difficult for you or if you feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions at some point during or after a meditation session:

  • Allow yourself to do whatever you need in that moment to stabilise yourself.
  • Perhaps you could choose to turn to an anchor that feels safer such as feeling the contact of your feet with the ground until you feel settled again.
  • You also may want to open your eyes slightly, if they were initially closed and simply tune in with the environment again.
  • If you feel meditation triggers difficult memories (e.g. traumatic flashbacks) or causes any other adverse or undesired effect, it is best to seek the advice of a senior teacher or a therapist familiar with mindfulness practice.  In such cases, just allow yourself to take a break from your practice and get appropriate counselling.
Listen to what you need

If you feel like it is enough, just stay a little longer.
- Mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn

Helpful tip!

Meditation is intended to support you in finding a little more inner calm and inner clarity - it is not intended to be overwhelming or exceeding what you can tolerate in any given moment.

When to meditate

Even if it's for a short period we recommend meditating each day. See if you can consider it as a gift to yourself, some precious me-time, rather than another item on your to-do list. This will help you to keep doing it and benefiting from it over time.

  • Morning is often preferred because it sets the tone for the day, and for some the mind may be calmer than it is later in the day. Other people prefer the evening as a calm ending of the day and transition into the night.
  • The best time is the time that you can realistically commit to on a regular basis. Some people choose to do two or more short sessions, perhaps one at the beginning and one at the end of the day.

Helpful tip!

It can be helpful to combine your meditation session with an already existing helpful routine that you might have, for example a morning stretching regime, your morning tea/coffee or a moment to sit outside. If you associate two activities in this way your brain will link them together and more easily remember doing it.

Trust yourself in taking good care of yourself, even if that means simply pausing your practice.

For how long should I meditate?

If you’re just beginning a meditation practice, you might want to experiment with the length of time that you meditate.

Here are some options for you:

  • An easy way to start is to choose just five minutes once or twice a day and increase the time by a few minutes a day until you reach a length of time that you can commit to on a daily basis (for instance 10 to 15 minutes).
  • If you feel quite comfortable sitting 10 minutes each day, try to notice the impulse to feel done and get up after the bell, and stay for a few more moments, feeling this impulse and becoming aware of emotions and thoughts.
  • From here you can then continue to gradually increase or try longer meditations. For many, a good length is 15-30 minutes.

If you sit each day, you’ll gradually experience noticeable benefits (e.g., less reactivity, more calm) and be more inclined to increase your sitting time.

 Where to meditate

Where to meditate

We invite you to creatively experiment with what works for you.

  • It can be helpful to find a relatively quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Some like to use the same place each time because the association of that place has the potential to help them settle into meditation more quickly. Some find it helpful to decorate this place in a nice way, with a candle or flowers or a nice blanket.
  • Other people meditate on public transportation, in their offices at lunchtime, and in public parks.

It might be that you have one spot at home where you like to meditate in a formal way and you use other places, like the office for more informal moments to practice mindfulness, where you simply tune into your body and take a few conscious breaths.

Helpful tip!

You can find A Guided Meditations page with audio clips of all lengths. This can be helpful when looking and experimenting with the duration that matches best for you at this time.

Challenges and getting support

A restless mind, sleepiness, physical restlessness, pain or tension, as well as difficult emotions can also arise during meditation and are very common.

  • It is helpful to learn to meditate in a group with an experienced teacher that will motivate and guide you along the way. Meditation is a lifelong adventure with ups and downs, and in the long run it can bring you more peace and consciousness in your life.
  • Consider joining a group to meditate with other people on a regular basis. This can also be a tremendous support for your meditation practice, can create a sense of belonging, and the shared wisdom of a group can be of great benefit.
Challenges and getting support

You cannot control what experiences arise in meditation,
but you can learn how to skilfully relate to them with mindfulness and kindness.

You are welcome to download and print this guide so that you have it handy for future reference.

Download guide