A timer helps to assure you that you have not meditated too long. If you do not have a timer, you will probably look at a clock or your watch every 30 seconds.
Breathing is a unique bodily function. It is automatic, we take over 10 million breaths per year without noticing, but we can also control breathing voluntarily. Think of breathing as to how we can communicate with our bodies. If we breathe slowly, our bodies relax. While you sit:
This is your only task in meditation — be aware of your breath. If your thoughts wander, just come back to breathing.
- bring your attention to your breathing
- notice everything about your breathing: the inhale, the exhale, and the tiny pause between them
- breathe naturally, just be aware of your breath
The goal of meditation is not to have no thoughts (that is impossible) but to not interact with the thoughts that occur. If, while you are meditating, you start wondering when was the last time you changed the oil in your car, that is perfectly normal — just come back to your breathing and try not to ‘chase’ the thought.
Some people find it helps to label the thoughts. When you notice yourself drifting, just place a neutral label on the thoughts — if you are thinking about everything you have to do at work, label the thoughts ‘work’ and return to breathing.