How do I meditate? (with transcript)

Q&A: How do I meditate?

I’ve never meditated before. How do I meditate?

Master Culadasa gives basic meditation instructions for someone meditating the first time.


Culadasa: So you don't know how to meditate. Okay. We'd better help you out there a little bit. And we're gonna sit here and meditate for a while.

Meditation is a process of calming your mind and learning to be focused and learning to be very aware. So the calming shouldn't bleed into drowsiness and things like that. You should remain relaxed but very alert and very aware. And so, the way that we do this is to take an object to rest our attention on. Whenever our mind... you'll notice when you do that your mind is filled with all kinds of other thoughts and things like that.

And so, in order to calm your mind, whenever you realize that your attention has drifted away from the meditation object is just to gently bring it back to that object. What will happen sometimes is that you'll not only drift away from the meditation object, but you'll forget it entirely. And your mind might wander and think about this... and then that makes you think about that. So it might go on for a long period of time. But, it doesn't matter. What's important is sooner or later, you're going to have that moment when you realize that you're not doing what you intended to do.

That moment is special. Notice how much more aware and fully conscious you are when you come into the present and realize you're not doing what you intended to do. By comparison with just a few moments earlier, when you were lost in some thought and weren't really present and really aware. That's very special. So, just appreciate that moment and think about how you'd like to be in a completely present awareness all of the time. And then, bring your attention back to the meditation object. It doesn't matter how many times you have to do that. If you keep doing that, your mind will gradually began to slow down and become calm.

So that's basically how to do the practice. Now, the meditation object that you're going to use is the feelings that are produced by the breath as it moves in and out at the nose.

So if you just--right now--maybe you'll want to close your eyes. Right now, pay attention to the air as it moves in and out of your nose and you'll notice that you can feel that movement? That's what you're going to keep returning your attention to. Those sensations of the breath. The breath is always there and it always goes on.

Now at some point, you might feel uncomfortable sitting still for a long period of time. If that happens try to go as long as you can without moving. And if you're feeling uncomfortable in a way that it keeps drawing your attention away from the sensations of your breath, then you can switch and use that sensation as the meditation object instead. Then, if you feel like you need to move to relieve the discomfort, then go ahead but do it very mindfully. There you go. Fair enough.

So just the idea is to stay physically relaxed. If you notice any tension in your body, just let go and relax. Check into your body every now and then, and see if there's any tension developing. It's supposed to be very relaxed, but very alert and try to teach your mind to calm down by just keep coming back to the breat.

Don't try to stop the thoughts. Don't try to stop anything else. What you want to do is just try not to lose the awareness of the breath. That's just your anchor and just keep coming back.

Added at Sept. 26, 2020
Original file name howto.mp3

* Audio files are processed to reduce background noise, and provide (much) better compression. The original files are still accessible through the "original" links above.