Meditation Basics
Stress management


Dr Trisha Macnair

Meditation is easy to learn and can be an important factor in improving the health of your mind and body.

The first step to practising meditation is learning to breathe in a manner that facilitates a state of calmness and awareness.

The following simple exercise is recommended by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, as an effective method for achieving this state. Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed and practise the following exercise for several minutes each day:

  1. Assume a comfortable posture lying on your back or sitting.
  2. If you're sitting, keep the spine straight and let your shoulders drop.
  3. Close your eyes if it feels comfortable.
  4. Focus your attention on your belly, feeling it rise or expand gently on the in-breath and fall or recede on the out-breath.
  5. Concentrate on your breathing, 'being with' each in-breath.
  6. Every time you notice that your mind has wandered off the breath, notice what it was that took you away and then gently bring your attention back to your belly and the feeling of the breath coming in and out.
  7. If your mind wanders away from the breath, then your job is simply to bring it back to the breath every time, no matter what it has become preoccupied with.
  8. Practise this exercise for 15 minutes at a convenient time every day, whether you feel like it or not, for one week - and see how it feels to incorporate a disciplined meditation practice into your life. Be aware of how it feels to spend time each day just being with your breath, being 'in the moment' without having to do anything.