Two Things You Need To Be Able To Do To Meditate

Two Things You Need To Be Able To Do To Meditate

There are really only two things you need to be able to do to meditate; become aware of yourself and stay there for a while.

This formula is not only a simple way to practice meditation — it's also a key to life: to be mindful where you are, wherever you are; to become more and more conscious from moment to moment; to be your true self, in every situation, in every circumstance.

Meditation is simple and practical. In a curious way, it is as ordinary as it gets. Many people who try it at first don't think they are doing it right; it's so simple and unextraordinary, they think meditation must be something more complex or esoteric than what they're doing. Because people often think they are doing their meditation wrong, many give up doing it at all.

Meditation is a Practice

It is a practice. Practice comes from the root word praxis, meaning "to do action." You have to do the action for meditation to work. Every time you sit to meditate you are building up a spiritual muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. It gains strength, agility, and capability over time. This energetic apparatus you build by meditating will absolutely change the way your life works.

Every time you meditate, you lay down another layer of consciousness, like rings in a tree trunk. Remember: the consciousness you make — conscious moment by conscious moment — is what you take with you when you die. It's part of your soul's accumulated knowledge, your soul's wisdom. It is the basis of what you are, and it becomes part of the continuum of your infinite self.

Remember: all you need to do is become aware of yourself and stay there for a while.


Everywhere we are is holy. Everything is holy. Yet, some places have more spiritual wattage than others. When many of us decide over many years that a place is sacred, it becomes imbued with more sacred energy. We see and feel that these places exude holiness. Imagine a cathedral, for instance, created for the specific purpose of worship. The architects and crafters who designed and built it knew what its purpose would be. Every nail was pounded and every tile was laid by a person who intended the church to be holy. Then add the intention and devotion of the priests at its head, and all the vestments, rituals, and symbols of the ceremonies. Finally, add the congregation with all of their sincere beliefs and prayers. Multiply that by all the years of worship in the cathedral, and you can see how intention creates sacred space.

When we meditate we consciously create a sacred space. We can make any space sacred simply by deciding that it is sacred. By bringing our full consciousness to that place, we are imbuing it with our soul, and it becomes energetically transformed.

If you already have a part of your home that feels especially peaceful to you, that's a natural place to meditate. Any place where it is calm and quiet is a good place to begin. I often meditate on my balcony that overlooks the city skyline, but I have also meditated in bed, on the couch, and even in the bathroom because that was the quietest room in the house at the time.

Imbuing a Space with Peace

The more you meditate in the same place, the more that place becomes imbued with peace. Just walking by it or even thinking of it will instill in you the quality of consciousness that you have invested there. By repetition, you build your own unique place of power and awareness — your own altar.

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Remember this as well: even though you can empower a place to give you a feeling of sacredness, don't forget that you are the generator of that feeling in the first place, and you can take that feeling with you wherever you go. You can create sacred space anywhere.


The first thing you need to do to meditate is to find a comfortable position to be in so that you can sit quietly for a while. It's challenging enough to deal with the mind's complaining without having to contend with the body's problems as well. If you are uncomfortable, you won't be able to sit still, and your meditation will become a meditation on discomfort and tension.

Sitting cross-legged is the most common posture for meditation, but it is not essential to the practice; it is simply a comfortable position for some. Meditation originated at a time when people most commonly sat on the ground, but there are other reasons to sit cross-legged. These may become important as your practice unfolds, but the main purpose of a cross-legged posture is that many people find it relaxing and natural.

Again, the important thing is to be comfortable. Any comfortable sitting position will do. You can sit in a chair, on the couch, or against the headboard of your bed. You can sit on a park bench, on a blanket in the garden, or on a tire hanging from a tree. Be comfortable. If your spine can be straight as well, that is even better.

If You Can't Sit Comfortably

Over the years, I have worked with many students who for one reason or another can't sit comfortably, so I have them lie down. Even though this changes the energetic dynamics a bit, it still works. The only problem is that we are conditioned to fall asleep when we lie down, so you have to work a little harder to stay alert. However, since being comfortable is so important, if it feels like you need to lie down at first in order to become still, then lie down. It really doesn't matter whether you sit or lie down -- anytime you do anything in full consciousness, you are meditating. Conscious walking, conscious washing the dishes, conscious singing of a lullaby — it's all meditation.

Still, I like sitting. It works well, it invites less distraction, and it increases the likelihood of touching your truest self. Don't forget to turn off the phone and do whatever else you need to do to prevent interruption. You want to create the optimum conditions for a deep and authentic experience.


Once you've found a way to sit, then begin to be aware of your breath. The breath is the bridge between the self and the soul; the more connected we are to our breath, the more connected we are to our soul. When we stop breathing, it means that in some way we are disconnecting from ourselves, from our feelings, from our life force.

Notice your breathing now. Are you restricting it in any way? Is it rolling naturally and fully? Does the chest feel tight? Does it feel open? The breath is a powerful barometer of our state of mind.

We may hold our breath when we're tense or when we're concentrating, nervous, or upset. If the breath is shallow, there is tension in the body. You might be surprised at how often the breath is tense — and worse, at how often you're barely breathing at all. When the breath is full and deep, it's a good indication that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced. Watch a baby breathe, and you'll see the belly expand as she inhales and recede as she exhales. She is completely relaxed.

Take a deep breath. Notice how easily your whole being comes into a calm balance — just by taking a breath.

The breath is like a wave: far out from the shore a wave begins to form ... inhale... from the depths, a powerful, surging expansion forms and gains momentum, expanding and expanding, then it crests and curls, and finally. .. exhale... crashes to shore, dissolving into bubbles and spray as it begins to recede for its long journey back out to the depths of the sea again ... inhale...

With the breath deep and full, your meditation becomes alive. It is in flux, like the sea. It is infinite and changing. When the breath flows, the mind opens, and we expand. The breath is the guide. The breath is constantly giving us feedback: time to move forward, time to stay still; time to listen, time to speak; time to be subtle, time to stand strong; time to hold fast, time to let go.

A breath is a complete cycle unto itself, self-perpetuating and constant. It is our life. It animates us. It is the first thing we do when we come into form; it is the last thing we do when we leave it. We don't have to try to breathe; it is automatic. It is a great mystery and a miracle. It is surrender.

Learning to listen to the sound and quality of the breath is the best teacher you will ever have. No one else can know for you where you are in your meditation. No one can guide you more surely or more intimately than the breath's subtle awareness.

Let the breath be your life's song. Learn the melody it is singing. Appreciate the harmony of it. Learn to understand and support the disharmony too. Your song is your own, and it is beautiful and unique.


As soon as you choose a place to meditate and turn off the phone, you are setting your intention. Meditation is a practice in focus, concentration, and staying firmly with yourself. This is a tremendous act of will because generally when we first sit down to meditate we create a hundred reasons to get out of it. We find ourselves wondering about all kinds of things: Did I put the dishes away? Did I return that call? That closet really needs a good cleaning out. The distractions can seem endless.

It takes discipline, or as one friend of mine says, blissipline, to stay focused on spirit. The mind wanders to mundane things. But the blessings and insights that we get from even a five-minute daily practice of meditation are invaluable. We expand in a subtle but powerful way. We access something bigger than ourselves, a pure consciousness that leaves a deep impression. Setting our intention and sticking with it is the key that opens this vast realm of possibility.

This inner world is your private temple, your direct connection with grace. People often find it difficult to describe this realm because it is beyond words — literally metaphysical, beyond physical experience. When you try to describe your experiences of meditation, they either sound overly glamorous or incredibly subtle, and either way they are often misunderstood. But it isn't necessary to put them into words. Let it be your own private knowing. You need no validation from the outside; you are the only one who needs to know what your meditation has shown you.

Setting your intention to meditate secures your practice. Once you have this foundation in place, it creates an energetic touchstone that calls you back again and again.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. ©2004, 2015.

Article Source:

Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach by Diana Lang. Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach
by Diana Lang.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.

About the Author

Diana Lang

Diana Lang is a spiritual teacher and counselor and the director/owner of LifeWorks - Center for Growth in Los Angeles,California. She has been teaching meditation and yoga since 1980 and conducts seminars in the United States and internationally on meditation, body awareness, stress reduction, and relationship development. She is a "teacher's teacher" of meditation and yoga, as well as a radio personality. Visit her website at

Watch a video About Meditation (with Diana Lang)

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