Consistency Counts

In some ways, meditation can be compared to sports.
If you train for a day and then slack off for a week, you won’t make much progress.

In fact, you may end up straining a muscle or hurting your back. This is why fitness gurus recommend consistency with your workouts. It allows your body to get in shape gradually… and then keep on improving.

When you practice meditation, you’re developing your mental and emotional muscles: concentration, mindfulness, and receptive awareness.

Consistency is the key here, too. You need to keep it up and keep it regular, no matter how you’re feeling from day to day.

Fortunately, your feelings can provide fodder for your meditation practice, as you expand your awareness from your breath to include the full range of your experience.  There’s no special way you need to be – just show up and be yourself!

As one old Chinese Zen master used to say, “Sun-faced Buddha, moon-faced Buddha.”

In other words,
Happy or sad, energetic or tired, just sit as the being you happen to be.


Photo credit: Kristin Kokkersvold

How to Relax

This guy is NOT relaxed

Just Relax….

One of the most common instructions when learning to meditate is to start by relaxing. Because knowing how to relax your mind and your body is necessary to get into a meditative state.

But what if the place you get stuck is the “just relax” part?

What if you’re more skilled at getting tense than getting relaxed?

No problem, Grasshopper. We can play to your strengths.

Begin by getting into a comfortable position – maybe sitting in a supportive chair, or lying down on the sofa or your bed.

Next, we’re going to get tense… REALLY TENSE!

Start by taking in a breath. Hold it, and then make tight fists with both hands. Now bring that fist energy up your arms by flexing your forearms, then your biceps and upper arms.

By this time, you may be clenching your fists so hard that they’re trembling a little.

Good. Very good.

Still holding your breath, let’s move to your face and head. Really “squench” up your face. Try to engage every single muscle of your face and around your ears. And then your neck.

Moving down your body, flex those pecs! Keep holding your fists, your breath, and everything else you’ve flexed so far.

Now your belly. Now your butt. Thighs, knees, calves, ankles…. and finally, your feet and toes.





Wow. Feel the difference?

This is what relaxing feels like. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves, our muscles, by going to the other extreme.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled meditation…..


Photo credit: Allan Foster

Meditation is a Natural Process

Meditation happens automatically when you have the right conditions and you allow the natural process to unfold.

You don’t have to force anything. Your body, in its wisdom, seizes the opportunity to heal and balance if you give it half a chance.

Your meditation practice can totally be that opportunity.

When you meditate, you have designated the time out and in effect, sent your nervous system a message,

“You are free. I won’t make you do anything else right now.”

The goal of all training is to be natural with yourself so that meditation doesn’t feel like a technique at all. Instead, it’s just a way of being with yourself.

There is something wonderful and almost miraculous in how meditation works.

Spontaneous Meditation

If you do the simplest technique, in the easiest manner, you tend to enter a state of profound physical relaxation and regeneration.

When you’re natural and unaffected with yourself, your experience changes continuously and your senses pulsate. You feel as though the knowledge of how to meditate is your own, that this wisdom comes from inside you.

Because it does.


Photo credit: Dhammika Heenpella

Getting Familiar with Your Breathing

The breath is a classic focus for meditation, for several reasons.

  • Breathing is sensuous, rhythmic, and always with us, as long as we are alive.
  • Breath is a gift to us from the larger universe; it comes inside our body, into our lungs, into our blood, then into every cell.
  • Breathing is an intimate exchange with the entire cosmos in which we live and move and have our being.

When you pay close attention to your breathing, you can perceive all this directly. Your breath is intrinsically full of grace.

There are hundreds of ways to pay attention to breath.

  • You can be aware of its rhythm, of how it expands and contracts, of how it weaves from outside your body to being drawn inside.
  • You can visualize the breath, being aware of the tip of your nose, the quiet sounds of your breathing, the soft feeling in your throat, the pause at the end of the inhalation, and so on.
  • You can focus through your sense of touch, movement, hearing, smell, or vision. You can use breath to withdraw from the world or to engage with it.

When you meditate with your breathing, allow your eyes to be open or closed.

Whatever happens spontaneously, you’ll learn to rest in the presence of breath, and your eyes will tend to close by themselves… but don’t force them shut.

If you take this gentle approach, even the simple act of closing the eyes can feel rich. Your thoughts will drift off and then return to your focus.

This is natural. Just keep coming back to your chosen pleasure. Keep in mind that you can sit anywhere and in any position that you find comfortable.

Over time you will develop more and more sensory awareness of what breath is. And as you do, it will become more and more engaging.

Drop the phrase “trying to concentrate on my breathing” from your vocabulary, and replace it with “I am developing an interest in breathing.”

Use your senses to welcome each inhalation. As you become more aware of your breath, extraordinary realms of sensation begin to open up.

You may even discover that you are an unlimited being.

Photo Credit: Dani_vr via Compfight