Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Meditate: Eight Simple Steps

This is a guest post by Bernie Schreck from In the Footsteps of the Buddha

In this busy day and age, more and more people are turning to meditation and discovering the countless benefits it brings.

Meditation is a wonderful way to improve physical health, reduce stress, enhance your relationships, and bring more peace, happiness, and confidence into your life.

Above all else, meditation is the way to reconnect with your true self, the innermost essence of your mind.

Following is a simple guide – just the key points in eight simple steps – to help you get started with meditation.

PostureCreating the Supportive Conditions for Meditation

1. Body

The physical posture creates the supportive conditions that give rise to meditation.

The main point is to sit comfortably.  Feel free to sit on a cushion or on a chair. Sit with your back straight, yet relaxed. Once you are settled on your seat, take a moment to connect with yourself. Breathe naturally. Allow yourself to feel your body and the movement of the breath within it.

2. Eyes

Meditating with your eyes open is recommended.  The reason?  Keeping all your senses open creates less of a difference between meditation and your daily life.

If you are sensitive to disturbances from outside you can begin your meditation with your eyes closed, and open them when you feel settled. Let your eyes be relaxed, half-open, looking downward along the line of your nose. Allow your gaze to rest without focusing on anything in particular. Leave all your senses open and relaxed. Leave the seeing in the seeing, the hearing in the hearing, the feeling in the feeling, and so on.

3. The inner aspect of posture – establishing an attitude that helps you enter into meditation

Take a moment to remind yourself that the purpose of meditation is to bring you back to yourself – to reconnect with your true being which is goodness, wisdom, and compassion.

Meditation is not about getting, creating or attaining anything, but simply letting go of whatever prevents us from experiencing ourselves fully. It is about slipping out of the noose of our inner dialogue, habitual reactions, and all the ideas we have made up about ourselves.

If we think of our thoughts and emotions as the “real” us, they will control our life. Whereas, if we have confidence that our true nature is unstained by our confusion, we can look at ourselves and all our problems with more humor and spaciousness.

4. Motivation

Meditation is also about experiencing our oneness with the world. The biggest obstacle to this is our self-centeredness.

To help us let go of self-centeredness, we generate the wish that our practice not only brings us back to our own true nature and fundamental goodness, but also enables us to help others reconnect with theirs.  May it contribute to a deeper and more spiritual consciousness in the world, and bring lasting happiness and an end to all suffering.

The Actual Practice Abiding in Pure Awareness of Nowness

Meditation is simply a way of being. It is not something we need to do, but simply letting our mind be present in nowness and abide in an open and natural way of being.

However, most of the time we can’t do that right away. First, we need to find our mind. Then we use a method to help it settle.  Then whenever our mind feels open and relaxed, we let go of the method and abide in that natural state of mind.

5. Finding your mind

Begin your meditation by becoming aware of your mind and the flow of thoughts and emotions passing through it.

We are always aware: we see, we feel, we think, and so on. The difference in meditation is that we are not just aware of things, we also become aware that we are aware. We not only see, but we know we see. We not only hear, but we know we hear. We not only think, but we are aware of having thoughts.

6. Method: Watching the breath

We can use the breath as a support to enter into this deeper awareness.

Breathe naturally and simply be aware of the breath. “Know that you are breathing in when you are breathing in. Know that you are breathing out when you are breathing out.” Watching the breath is a skillful way to help the energy of our mind to settle.

7. Resting in a natural state of mind

Whenever your mind feels relaxed and open, you can let go of watching the breath and just abide in a natural pure awareness of nowness. Simply let yourself be present in the face of whatever thoughts, emotions, or perceptions arise. Whatever arises, let it come and go.

Whenever you notice you are distracted – “Oops, I was supposed to watching my breath” – come back to the breath or being present in nowness.

Don’t chastise yourself for becoming distracted. The secret of these “Oops” moments is that they’re actually are split-second experiences of pure awareness, which is your fundamental nature.

Alternate between focusing on the breath, when you feel distracted, and resting in pure awareness of nowness, when your mind is settled.

8. Dedication

At the end of the session, conclude your practice with a moment of dedication.

A wonderful way to dedicate your practice is to wish that your efforts may not just bring freedom and happiness to yourself, but to all sentient beings. May it bring an end to all the suffering in the world.

This seals your practice and ensures that the positive results it has brought will never be lost.

This brief advice on meditation is based on teachings from Sogyal Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche. Meditation is a huge topic and a lifelong endeavor. There is so much more that could be, and really should be, said to explain it properly. These points can only attempt to give a very essential presentation of some of the main points.  If you would like to learn more about meditation and the nature of mind, I recommend reading:

  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
  • The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness by Mingyur Rinpoche.

Or watching these brief videos on meditation:

I would love to hear if these tips help you and answer any questions you may have.


Bernie Schreck has studied and practiced in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for over twenty years and instructs introductory courses in Buddhism and meditation for Rigpa, the network of centers and groups under the guidance of his teacher Sogyal Rinpoche.

In his spare time, he shares reflections on Buddhist practice and way of life on his blog In the Footsteps of the Buddha.

Please let your friends know about this article by using the share buttons below.  Every share helps me reach out and inspire others.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra


The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh


Book Review: Be Love Now by Ram Dass


  1. Hi Bernie,

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful summary of how to meditate.

    I will remain mindful of my posture when meditating. Sometimes I neglect getting comfortable but as you note finding a comfy position creates the support that opens the way for meditation to occur.

    Have a wonderful day 🙂


    • Hi Ryan,

      I am glad you found the summary helpful.

      You are very right that posture creates the support for meditation. It is said that if you create auspicious conditions in your body and your mind the meditation and realization will naturally arise.



  2. Mimi Sternberg

    Hi Bernie, I really liked your description of the steps for meditation. They are simple, clear, adn inviting. I may send this to afew friends who are considering the dharma. Love, Mimi

  3. I like that you broke it down into pragmatic steps.

    > split-second experiences of pure awareness
    Beautiful insight!

    • Hi J.D., thanks I really tried to make as step by step as possible. May you have many of those split second Oops moments. Cheers Bernie

  4. Hi Bernie,
    I really enjoyed this post and I appreciate how you broke it all down into more managable steps. I’ve always been a little intimidated by meditation & have a hard time keeping myself focused for more than 30 seconds. I will certainely give this a try!!

  5. Hi Bernie-Thank you for these simple steps to meditation. I have been practicing on and off for many years and it was very helpful to read through your guide. There are times in my life when meditation has proven invaluable. I love how you suggest ending the meditation with a dedication-a reminder that we are all interconnected. I have found over the years that I need to dedicate a special spot for my meditation practice. I have used closets, bathrooms and space carved out of my bedroom. As long as I know this space is mine during the time I need it-the space will work. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  6. Hi Lori, you are most welcome! I can picture you meditating in your closet, bathroom. 🙂
    Any space will do as long as it works for you! That’s the main point. Cheer Bernie

  7. I used to get sooooooooo mad at those “oops” moments. I now know that’s where the good stuff happens, when I am aware and present of what my mind is doing. Love how you touched on all the externals here in order to get us to truly be able to venture inside. Well done. 🙂

    • Hi Emma,

      nice to hear you liked the post. I tend to feel easily discouraged when I am too distracted, so when my teachers pointed out that the more distraction the more opportunities and to look at distraction as “oops” moments it really helped me.



  8. Hi Bernie,
    I like this post because it is structured so well. I believe your description of 5. Finding your mind and 7. Resting in a natural state of mind are so well expressed, and will behelpful for those who are establishing a practice.

  9. Hi timethief, I was really touched by your appreciative words. Mahalo, as they say in Hawaii. Bernie

  10. Bernie,
    I began meditating a few months ago…and found a period recently where I started to let this slip. I’m back on board now, and as I read this – I feel more committed to this practice (one that always leaves me feeling in a deeper sense of personal peace).

    I love how this is broken down, which makes it all that much more understandable. The idea of a dedication at the end – this is new to me, and one I plan to put into practice immediately.

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful knowledge here…

    • Hi Lance,

      I am so glad that this article refreshed your commitment to meditation. Meditation can bring so many benefits to our life. Motivation and dedication are a very powerful framework that make meditation a spiritual practice. I wrote about that on my blog recently.



  11. High time I got back into my meditation practice – great post here – linking to it for my Friday post! Thank you so much for this!

    • Hi Farnoosh,

      I am really delighted you are inspired to get back into meditation. Good luck with this … and thanks in advance for linking to the post



  12. Just sitting, We are so pushed out of our own skins that just sitting and not doing stuff is hard. Perhaps we should mediate less and change our lifestyles and habits more? It is imporatant to quell the chaos of the mind, but more important I think not to let the chaos enter it to begin with. It is best to was a dish when your done with it than to throw it in the sink…. How full will your sink be in a day?

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for sharing your reflections on this. I agree with you that it is important to be mindful and aware in our lives. We need to do this as much as possible, ideally all day, and not just a few minutes on the cushion, so we don’t let chaos enter into our mind in the first place. If you can do that without sitting practice that’s great!

      In the tradition I study, it is looked at a little differently, so I thought I’d share this with you, just as another perspective to reflect upon. I am not trying to convince you or tell you how you should practice. Each of us needs to find our own way and what works for us.

      So here is another way to look at this: While my teachers also say that the main point is to fully integrate the practice into our entire lives, they emphasize that we need to have a formal practice. They say it is indispensable to develop our capacity for mindfulness and awareness and to clean up the mess that is already accumulated in our minds. In the same way that without cooking we cannot eat, without spending time to nurture and develop mindfulness and awareness on the cushion it will be very difficult to keep our minds clean during the day. I personally found that to be true in my case and came to the conclusion that for me the two, meditation and integration, need to go hand in hand.

      There is a danger of avoiding meditation just because it is hard. But also you have a point there. We need to be very skillful not to push ourselves beyond our capacity. We need to begin with where we are at. This means to understand and accept our present condition and abilities. Sometimes meditation needs be started very gently with short sessions and meditation exercises like I mentioned in one of the comments above.

      Hope this is adding some useful reflections to your thoughtful comments. Again, thanks for sharing.



  13. Hi Bernie,

    Thank you for this guide.

    Question: How long should we spend time meditating each day?

    • Hi Roy,

      You are most welcome!

      I think it is good to slowly build up the time you meditate. Start with five minutes, for example by doing the meditation exercise I suggested in my reply to one of the previous comments above.

      Then build up to 10 – 15 – 20 – 30 – 40 minutes or even longer.

      20 minutes once or twice a day is a good time for a casual daily practice, but even 5 minutes is great if that is all you can manage!

      You can take little stretch breaks every 5-10-15-20 minutes depending on how quickly get uncomfortable.

      Good luck!



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