If I had to share just ONE valuable tip that had the power to dramatically change your life for the better, my advice would be this: learn how to meditate.
Meditation is one of the most powerful success tools available to you. Even a simple five-minute basic mindfulness meditation practice can boost your mental clarity, focus, and intuition, making it easier for you to remain calm in challenging situations and make better decisions in the present moment.
In this guide, you will learn about the benefits of meditation and how to cultivate a powerful success mindset that will make it easier to achieve your goals in life.
You’ll also discover a simple four-step meditation practice and other exercises that even beginners can use to practice mindfulness and live more fully in the present moment, so you can experience more joy and contentment in everyday life.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of training your mind to be more calm, clear, focused, and positive, so you can see yourself and the world around you with greater clarity and take mindful action that helps you get the results you want in life.
There are many ways to learn how to meditate. The simplest of all meditation techniques is to practice mindfulness training or focus on your breathing and release all thoughts as you notice them arise.
You could do a body scan meditation or focus on a mantra, repeating an empowering word or phrase over and over. You could also work with one of the many meditation apps out there, or meditation teachers who take you on a guided meditation that deepens your intuition.
If you’re not keen on sitting meditation, you could practice a “walking meditation” that cultivates greater awareness of the present moment and gives you a deeper sense of peaceful harmony and connection with the world around you. Or you could use loving-kindness meditation (also known as metta meditation) to cultivate a more positive mindset by focusing on growing your compassion for all living things.
Any of these practices improve your mental health by helping to liberate your mind from the endless “monkey mind” chatter of thoughts that cause you to believe negative or limiting ideas that simply aren’t true, such as “people suck” or “I’m a failure.”
When you realize the illusory nature of such thoughts and learn how to release them, it becomes so much easier for you to embrace new thoughts that empower you to take more positive actions that deliver the outcomes you desire.
The Benefits of Meditation
Do you ever find yourself so irritated by something in your everyday life that it gets in the way of your performance?
Are you ever so stressed out that you can’t sleep at night and have difficulty concentrating during the day?
Do you struggle with solving problems or making big decisions because you can’t figure out what to do next?
Practicing mindfulness meditation helps you overcome all of these challenges and so much more. Both seated and walking meditation have been scientifically proven to boost relaxation, reduce stress, and improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Meditation neutralizes negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, or bitterness, and allows you to think more clearly and consider all sides of a situation with an open mind so you can make better decisions in the present moment.
When you practice meditation regularly, it also reduces mental distraction and increases focus so you can be more productive while experiencing less stress and anxiety. It also helps you relax and sleep better at night, so you are able to feel more energized during the day. It can even reset your hormones, promote faster healing, and boost your immune system.
Some of the spiritual benefits of meditation include a deeper connection to yourself and the world around you. It can increase your longevity, help you discover your higher purpose, and increase the joy and fulfillment you experience in every moment.
Reasons to Meditate
Both sitting meditation and more active forms, such as walking meditation, improve your mental health and give you greater awareness of your thoughts and their impact on the present moment.
Here are just a few more reasons to incorporate mindfulness meditation practices into your weekly routine:
- Understand & release pain: If you struggle with feelings of anger, grief, bitterness, or despair, meditation can help you get to the root of your pain and release its hold over you.
- Lower stress: Meditation practices reduce anxiety and make it easier for you to remain calm in the present moment and make decisions that better serve you.
- Connect better: Meditation helps increase your sense of connection with others and the world around you. This naturally boosts your empathy and makes it easier for you to relate to others.
- Improve focus: Daily mindfulness meditation strengthens your ability to dismiss distracting thoughts and keep your attention on the task at hand, so you can get more done in less time.
- Reduce brain chatter: Your brain is a thought-generating machine! But not all of the thoughts it generates are true. Many arise just because they can, not because they reflect reality. Mindfulness meditation makes it easier for you to focus on the thoughts that will help you get the results you want in life.
- Mental health: Meditation allows you to cultivate greater equanimity and positivity, which improves your overall mental health and allows you to cultivate a more optimistic mindset and hopeful outlook on life.
Types of Meditation
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. If you’re new to learning how to meditate, I encourage you to explore several options until you find the mindfulness meditation practices that are right for you.
Here are a few basic meditations you could explore:
- Basic Mindfulness Meditation: The practice of sitting and being more mindful of your thoughts.
- Breath Meditation: Similar to basic mindfulness meditation but uses the breath as the focal point for awareness.
- Transcendental Meditation: A formal meditation practice that involves silently repeating a mantra as a way to transcend thoughts and achieve a higher state of consciousness.
- Guided Meditations: Takes the participant through a guided meditation visualization that can unlock deep truths. Guided meditations strengthen your intuition and allow for greater clarity and insight.
- Walking Meditation: Active people may appreciate walking meditation, which involves consciously focusing on every step you take and cultivating deep awareness on your feet connecting with the ground and the energy of the world beneath us.
- Vipassana Meditation (Sayagyi U Ba Khin Tradition): This formal meditation practice cultivates a mindset of non-reaction by teaching you how to refocus your attention on the objective sensations of your body in the present moment.
- Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation): This instant mood-booster improves your sense of compassion by cultivating a mindset of loving-kindness toward all living things, including yourself.
- Chakra Meditation: Tunes you into the different energy centers of your body to release trapped energy and increase flow between the chakras, boosting mental awareness and emotional balance.
- Yoga Meditation: A movement-based mindfulness meditation that incorporates breathing and awareness to cultivate greater peace, balance, and presence in the present moment.
- Body scan meditation: This form of mindfulness meditation grounds you in the present moment and deepens your sense of connection to your own body by doing a mental body scan and simply observing what sensations arise.
When it comes to meditation, everyone is different. You may find that a blend of different meditation practices works best to give you the mental, physical, and emotional well-being you seek.
Does Meditation Work?
I have met many people who have a resistance to practicing mindfulness training or forming any sort of meditation habit. They think meditation sounds “weird” or they say they’re too busy to learn how. Some even believe that some forms such as guided meditation go against their religion.
The truth is, that some form of meditation exists in every religion. Daily prayer, chanting, and reciting a rosary are all forms of basic mindfulness meditation. Meditation has just as much impact on your mental and physical health as it does on your spiritual wellbeing.
Beyond that, scientific studies prove without a doubt that meditation can have a positive impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Body scans show that Buddhist monks who have meditated for years are able to consciously lower their heart rate and blood pressure and maintain their equanimity no matter what kind of stress they encounter in the present moment.
On a personal note, I can say that some of my greatest successes came to me thanks to my meditation habit, including the title of Chicken Soup for the Soul, which has grown to become a brand worth several hundred million dollars.
If you’re interested in cultivating your own meditation habit, I encourage you to check out the different meditations I share in my Awakening Power audio program. You can also keep reading to learn one technique you can put into practice right away.
What Happens During Meditation?
When you meditate, you focus your attention on one thing so that everything else begins to drop away. Your mental chatter quiets, you become more grounded in the present moment, and you’re able to access your subconscious mind.
If your mind wanders when you meditate, that’s okay! It’s part of the process. The point of mindfulness meditation, whether it’s seated or walking meditation, isn’t to stop thinking but to become more aware of your thoughts and their illusory nature so they loosen their hold on you.
So as you try to focus your mind on your breathing, or on a mantra, or do a body scan meditation to observe the sensations within your body, there will inevitably be times when you get distracted and your mind wanders. That’s fine. It’s supposed to happen. Simply notice that you got caught up in your thoughts and then release them and turn your attention back to whatever you want to focus on.
And remember: meditation is an ongoing practice, not a means to an end. The point is simply to show up every day and do the work and reap the benefits of cultivating greater awareness of your thoughts and their impact on you.
How to Meditate: A 4-Step Guide
I have spent decades cultivating my mindfulness meditation practice and have explored at least 20 different forms of meditation, including 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreats.
Each of the meditation techniques yields different results. Some are calming and centering while others energize the body. Some cultivate a neutral mindset or allow for greater insight and wisdom to emerge.
Today I’d like to teach you a simple form of meditation that combines all these elements into one. I call it Betty Bethard’s 4-Step Meditation and I have taught it regularly in my trainings and workshops ever since I learned it from my meditation teacher Betty many years ago.
I find this technique to be one of the most simple ways to meditate. It is also profoundly effective.
Here are the four steps it involves – I’ll walk you through each one so you understand how it works then guide you through the meditation itself.
1. Prepare Your Space
To get the most benefits, it helps to meditate while in a positive mental and physical space. Here’s how to prepare your body, mind, and environment for the best results:
Physical Preparation: Avoid meditating on a full stomach, when overly tired, or while wearing restrictive clothing. Do not meditate while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Use your own judgment when using prescribed medication. Take a few moments to collect yourself than a few deep breaths to start.
Mental Preparation: Get yourself into a positive or open-minded headspace by listening to inspirational music or reading or discussing topics that uplift and expand your mind. You may also want to do some yoga or go for a walk in nature to put yourself in a positive and peaceful mood.
Environmental Preparation: Find a quiet time when you will not be disturbed by the telephone, doorbell, or other interruptions. When you have moved into the inner stillness, all your senses are heightened, and a sudden noise can be a shock to your system.
You may also want to create a peaceful and lovely meditation space within your home filled with images and objects that inspire you.
Many people prefer to meditate while sitting cross-legged on a meditation cushion on the floor. You may also want to sit on a meditation bench or in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Keep your body erect and your hands resting on your knees or on your lap. Imagine a string tied to the top of your head pulling straight up toward the ceiling to ensure your spine is straight.
Take a few deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Then breathe only through your nose and let your breathing become steady, rhythmic, and relaxed. Now you’re ready to begin the meditation.
2. Mindful Repetition
Repetition is simply the practice of focusing your mind on a single point. It clears away the mental cobwebs and stills your active conscious mind and is an essential part of any meditation practice.
You can do repetition with your eyes open or closed, whichever proves better for you. If you use the eyes open method, you can choose to fix your gaze on a single object, such as a tiny light or candle in a darkened room, a picture, a religious symbol, a mandala, or the word Love. Or you can keep your gaze slightly unfocused and look past the tip of your nose.
If you prefer to keep your eyes closed, you may find it helpful to visualize a word, face, object or symbol in your mind’s eye. This could be a religious symbol, a mandala, a flower, or a peaceful scene in nature, such as a still lake. Or you may wish to focus on a word, a seed thought, or a phrase that has special meaning to you, such as “I am Love” or “I am One with All Things.”
Whatever focal point you choose, let it represent one of your highest spiritual ideals as opposed to something materialistic.
When you first start practicing repetition, your mind will likely want to stray. Bring it gently back to the focal point of your concentration. As it strays again, bring it back again. Almost everyone finds their mind too active to settle down to a single point at first. But as you continue to practice, you will find your ability to discipline your mind to one point growing stronger.
3. Receive Your Thoughts
As you continue to practice repetition, you will find yourself shifting gently to receptivity. At this point, you may want to turn your palms upward in your lap to receive the energy and input of the Universe.
Keep your body erect and relaxed as you open yourself to a deeper awareness of yourself and the world around you. Do not exert any conscious effort to think about anything – instead, set your mind free and take a few moments to see what arises from the various consciousness centers of your being.
Thoughts and mental images may appear in your consciousness. You may “see” images and scenes or “hear” mental messages. Remain relaxed and passive yet alert as you examine any thoughts that arise and then release them into the universe.
I find it helpful to imagine that I am standing on the bank of a river and my thoughts are boats drifting past. Whenever I find myself getting pulled along by one of my thoughts, I simply “climb out of the boat” and move back onto the shore to watch it sail by me.
It takes a while to develop this sense of detachment to one’s own thoughts and view them from more of an observer’s perspective. But the rewards of peace, calm, and insight are well worth the effort.
4. Close with Peace
At the end of your meditation practice, I encourage you to imagine a luminous white light surrounding you, filling you, and protecting you from negativity. This step allows you to close down the centers of consciousness that you opened during the meditation and also helps to shield you from outside influences that can cause you stress or provoke a negative thought or reaction from you.
During this final step of your meditation practice, you may want to apply the mental energy and focus you have generated to visualize yourself achieving an important goal you have set for yourself.
You could simply visualize yourself whole and healthy, or you might visualize yourself having achieved a specific goal for your life or career. Or you may want to repeat a positive affirmation that helps you see yourself as the kind of person who is capable of achieving your goals and dreams.
How Often Should You Meditate?
The key to cultivating a regular meditation practice is consistency. How long you meditate in a single sitting isn’t as important as how often you meditate. It’s better to meditate for five minutes every day than to meditate for an hour once every week or two.
That’s why I strongly encourage you to make it a habit to meditate every day for at least five minutes. By showing up for yourself every day in this way, you will cultivate greater mindfulness and awareness of your thoughts on an ongoing basis.
If you can, I encourage you to meditate at the same time every day – first thing in the morning, if possible, and again in the evening if you can. This helps you kick off your morning with greater clarity and focus and allows you to release any tension or stress you may accumulate during the day.
4-Step Meditation for Beginners
Now it’s your turn! Watch the video or follow the steps below to
1. Find Peace
Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably on your mat, chair, or meditation bench and remain uninterrupted for the duration of your daily practice. Close your eyes and focus on slowing down your breathing.
Take a few deep breaths then let your breathing flow naturally. Feel the air move in and out of you with each inhalation and exhalation.
Then imagine a pure white light appearing in your left foot and then traveling into your leg and up the left side of your body to the top of your head, then across to the right side of your body and down the other side.
Do this three times, seeing that sphere of pure white light going from the left foot, up the left side of your body, across the top of your head, and then down the right side of your body. Then let your mind rest for a moment and feel that sense of expansiveness within you.
2. Think Positively
Focus your mind on an uplifting word or phrase. This could be as simple as “re-lax,” or “so-ham,” which is a yoga mantra that translates to “I am that.” Or it could be something like “I am love,” or “I am in the universe and the universe is in me.”
Once you have chosen your phrase, allow the emotions you associate with that word or phrase to wash fully through you. Then repeat that word or phrase over and over to yourself, for about 3 to 4 minutes. If your mind wanders, simply release whatever thought you were thinking and then return your focus to repeating your chosen mantra.
3. Focus on the Quiet Space Within
Move from your mantra into a state of quiet, receptive observation. Notice how you feel in your mind, body, and spirit. Notice any thoughts or feelings that arise in your consciousness. There’s no need to react to anything. Simply observe what comes up for you and then release it.
Spend the last few minutes imagining yourself surrounded by a spotlight or sphere of white light. It’s like you’re inside a glowing bubble of light that’s all around you and filling you up with every heartbeat and every breath you take.
This light is an impenetrable shield that protects you from the negativity of other people and the world around you. You have compassion for others but they no longer have the power to inflict their pain and unhappiness on you. Allow this sphere of light to embrace you and shield you fully.
Finally, before you open your eyes, I encourage you to visualize one or two of the big life goals you want to achieve in the next year or so.
What will your life look like once that goal has been achieved?
How will you spend your day – and how will you feel in your body and soul?
Get really clear on this visualization and really sink down into it, grounding yourself in it. Then hold onto those feelings and your own intention to make that vision a reality as you proceed with the rest of your day.
If you went through this four-step meditation every day for 45 days, I guarantee you will see a huge difference in your mindset, your clarity, your ability to remain calm and positive – and your ability to show up in the world as the person you want to be!
Tips & Techniques to Meditate
Here are some simple ways to cultivate a regular meditation practice and make it a consistent and powerful success tool in your life:
- When you practice basic breath meditation, expand your awareness to include external factors such as sounds or physical sensations such as heat or coolness on your skin. Notice these things without becoming attached to them.
- Create a routine. Meditation is more effective when it happens at around the same time every day.
- Start small and go from there. Make your meditation practice something that’s easily doable and you will be far more likely to DO it and create a habit of consistency that will lead to powerful lasting results. I recommend you set yourself a goal of 5 minutes of breath-focused every day for the next few weeks and then see where you’d like to go from there.
- Join others to practice meditation. If you’re someone who benefits from learning in a group and having other people hold you accountable, join a local or online meditation group. It’s a great way to meet new people who are also focused on their self-improvement.
- Make it enjoyable. So be sure to explore different types of meditation until you find one that works for you. You may also want to listen to uplifting music, surround yourself with beautiful objects, or use essential oils to brighten your mood. You’re more likely to meditate every day if it’s something that brings you joy.
- Be kind to yourself. There will be days when you are distracted and clarity and peace of mind don’t come easily for you. There will be times when you question whether your efforts are worth it. Know that this too is part of the practice. Simply acknowledge that your feelings and experience are real – and keep showing up to do the work. Patience and consistency are the keys to long-term success.
- Consider using one of the many meditation apps out there to make your practice easy and available at a moment’s notice.
Learning How to Meditate Effectively Takes Practice
Just focus on improving one session at a time. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
Whatever meditation practice you decide to explore further – whether it happens to be movement, focus, or breathing meditation – remember there’s no such thing as “do it wrong.” Whatever you are experiencing is fine.
Don’t expect to have a totally clear mind or to achieve enlightenment overnight. Meditation is a daily discipline but the people who practice for years are the ones who experience the most profound and life-changing benefits from it.
When you’re just starting, a few minutes a day is plenty. Over time, as you notice the positive impact it has on your life, you will find that you naturally want to meditate longer and go even deeper into the experience. It’s a natural progression. Eventually, your meditation practice will become one of the most cherished parts of your day.
Begin Your Meditation Journey Now
To help you take the next steps on your journey to greater clarity, insight, and peace of mind, I have created a free downloadable meditation guide with meditation exercises you can use to cultivate a daily meditation practice that allows you to liberate yourself from distraction and tap more deeply into your intuition.
Learning how to meditate is a lifelong journey that will transform your mindset, your experience, and your sense of connection and belonging to the world around you. I hope you enjoy the ride!