Sitting meditation is just one way to practice mindfulness and acceptance of your internal experiences (e.g., thoughts, emotions, sensations). It is not an easy exercise, so if you are a beginner, you may want to start out with sitting for shorter periods of time (e.g., 2 to 3 minutes) and gradually increase the duration of your practice.
Sitting Meditation – When and Where
It is best to choose a consistent time and place for your sitting meditation practice. There is no particular time that is recommended — whatever time works for you will be fine. Ideally, you will practice at the same time of day, so think of times in your day when you have a consistent routine (e.g., upon waking, right before dinner).
The environment you choose should be quiet and peaceful. You should sit somewhere you are unlikely to be interrupted.
Getting Started with Sitting Meditation
As you prepare for your sitting practice, you first need to get your body in to position. Often, sitting meditation is done sitting on a mat on the floor with your legs crossed and your spine straight. If this position does not work for you, though, you can choose any other position that is comfortable and that you can hold for a while. You may choose to sit in a chair, but if you do this, be aware of slouching, and try to maintain an erect spine.
Practicing Sitting Meditation
While you are sitting, your job is to just be in the present moment and to notice when your mind has drifted somewhere else. Sitting meditation is not about trying to become relaxed. In fact, often this type of meditation is very anxiety-provoking! Your aim is to just allow whatever will happen to happen.
If you notice that your mind starts to drift to thinking about something in the past or the future, just gently acknowledge that your mind has drifted away from the present moment, and shift your attention back to your current practice.
Try to remind yourself that however you do the sitting meditation, you way is correct. Mindfulness meditation is more about having the intention of staying with the present moment than it is about actually achieving some state of perfect awareness.
After Your Sitting Meditation Practice
Once you have completed your sitting meditation practice for the day, just take a moment to reflect on what you noticed. Perhaps you noticed that you were feeling really stressed or angry or particularly calm today. Or maybe you noticed that your thoughts were all over the place today and that you were having trouble staying in the present moment. Remember to practice being accepting of however the practice went, because all of this is good information for you to know.
Hanh TN. The Miracle of Mindfulness. 1st ed. Beacon Press; 1999.
Hayes SC. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 1st ed. New Harbinger Publications, 2005.