How to meditate: definition, benefits, techniques of meditation

Written by Kerstin Lakits, Feb 23, 2023

When was the last time that you took a moment to stop and just breathe? It’s easy to get sucked into the hectic rhythm of our daily lives, but not so easy to take a conscious break. Multitasking seems to be the pinnacle of productivity. Unfortunately, this oftentimes leaves us feeling exhausted or even burnt out. So, practicing slowing down, being mindful and relaxing seems vital to our well-being in this fast-paced world. Meditation is an amazing mindfulness practice that you can easily implement into your daily routine. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know to get started. Take a breath and let’s go!

What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that combines physical and mental techniques to bring yourself into the present moment, focus on physical sensations and thoughts, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and clear your mind.

The practice of meditation is thousands of years old and different forms of meditation have emerged from cultures all around the world. Practices can have a religious or spiritual background; however, there are also non-religious meditation practices. There is a form of meditation for everyone!

Benefits of meditation

A little can go a long way! Regular meditation practices, even short ones, have a myriad of health benefits. Here are a few science-based benefits:

  • Reduce stress: Meditation can reduce stress-related inflammation and other stress responses.
  • Manage anxiety: Meditating can be an effective coping skill for nervousness and help decrease anxiety levels.
  • Emotional health: Habitual meditation practices can improve self-image, lead to a more positive outlook on life and fewer negative thoughts.
  • Self-awareness: Contemplative meditation practices can help you understand yourself better.
  • Attention span: Meditation can lengthen your attention span and therefore, improve your ability to focus and concentrate.
  • Memory: Practicing meditation can sharpen your mind and improve your memory.
  • Kindness: Some forms of meditation can generate kind feelings towards yourself and others, which will improve relationships.
  • Addictions: Meditation can help break bad habits and fight addictions.
  • Sleep: Regular meditation can improve your quality of sleep and make it easier to fall asleep.
  • Pain relief: Meditation can help manage pain and distressing sensations.
  • Blood pressure: Meditation can reduce blood pressure by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

How to meditate

Everybody can learn to meditate! Here are the key elements to get started:

1. Time

Find some time in your day to meditate. Maybe you want to incorporate it into your morning routine. Maybe you want to meditate in the evening to wind down. Find the time that works best for you!

Decide how long you want to meditate and set a timer! You can start with shorter practices (e.g. 5 min) and increase them over time (up to 20-30 min). You can also vary the length depending on how much time you have that day!

2. Find a comfortable position

Then find a quiet and safe place for your meditation. Do you prefer to meditate in your room, in your garden, in a park or somewhere else? Get comfortable on your bed, your couch, a chair or on your yoga mat. Find a comfortable position (laying on your bed, sitting upright on a chair, sitting cross-legged on the floor…) and notice how your body feels!

3. Breathe

Focus your attention on your breath. Is your breath shallow, deep, slow or fast? Try taking a conscious breath! Fill your lungs, hold for a second and then release your breath. Here are some breathing techniques:

  • Count your breath: four counts in – six counts out or four counts in, four counts hold, four counts out, four counts hold!
  • Draw waves with your breath: As you breathe in, imagine a wave building up. On the top the wave breaks, then you breathe out as the wave retreats.
  • Feel your breath: Put one hand on your chest, one hand on your belly. Breathe into your belly, feel the belly and then the chest rise. Breathe out, feel the chest fall first then the belly.

4. Wandering mind

The goal is not to silence your mind. You want to detach yourself from your thoughts and watch them as they float by. There is no need to react to them or follow a train of thought. You can try the following visualisations to avoid getting sucked into a train of thought:

  • Watch them as they float by like clouds in the sky.
  • Imagine it as a slideshow. A thought appears, you see it, then you “click” and the next one appears.
  • You are standing at the roadside watching cars (one car = one thought) as they drive by.

Don’t get frustrated if your mind keeps wandering off. That’s completely normal. Just notice it, take a breath and get back to your centre. (However, if you struggle with mind wandering in your daily life as well, check out our article with helpful tips!)

5. Thoughts and emotions

It’s nice to end your meditation by noticing how you feel. Has your mood changed? Which emotions are present? Are there any thoughts that stuck with you? How do you feel overall?

To end your meditation practice, you can take another deep conscious breath and smile as you come back.

Meditation techniques

There is an endless number of meditation techniques. Be curious and try different types of meditation. We want to show you four easy techniques that you can get started with:

1. Breathing meditation

Breathing meditation practices are very calming and relaxing. This type of practice is perfect for beginners because you do not need to know anything about meditating. Just find a safe space, get comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath. The rhythm of your breath will act as a natural metronome and give your mind something to focus on.

  • Start with a couple of deep breaths to settle in.
  • Slow down your breathing.
  • Count your breath: 1 = inhale, 2 = exhale, 3 = inhale, 4 = exhale and so on. Count to ten then start again.

There are tons of guided breathing meditations online, where an instructor will help you navigate your practice.

2. Body scan meditation

A body scan meditation is great if you feel stressed, anxious or tense. During this practice, you will be able to identify tense areas and gradually release tight muscles. There are different ways to do this. Find what feels good for you!

  • Top to bottom body scan: Start at the top of your head and focus on this area. Are you tensing your muscles? Do you feel sore? Just take note of what it feels like. Then move on to the next part. Imagine you are pointing a flashlight at different parts of your body.
  • Jacobson’s relaxation technique: You start with one muscle, for example your right thigh. First you actively tense it, hold for a few seconds, then you consciously relax that muscle. Do that with every area of your body.

3. Walking meditation

Walking meditations (also known as kinhin) are an amazing daily practice that you can do actively by deciding to go on a walking meditation or passively by being more mindful while you are on your way to university. You can do this outside, in a hallway or in a room. If you do a walking meditation outside, make sure that you still pay attention to your surroundings (e.g. cars, bikers, red lights, etc.).

  • Walk at a comfortable pace. Place your hands where it feels good. Pay attention to the physical sensation of walking.
  • If it makes it easier to focus, you can count your steps. (Until you reach 10, then start from the beginning.)
  • For a few minutes, pay attention to the sounds around you. What can you hear? What does it sound like?
  • Then shift your attention to smell. Notice if there are any smells. What can you smell?
  • Move on to your vision. Pay attention to the objects, colours, shapes, people, etc. around you. What do you see?
  • Open your awareness to your surroundings. Let the sensations come to you and just watch and take note.
  • To end your meditation, come back to the sensation of walking.

4. Loving kindness meditation

We could all need more kindness in our daily lives. Practicing loving kindness meditations is a beautiful act of self-care. You will generate more positive feelings and kindness towards yourself and others.

  • Find a comfortable position and settle down. Calm your nervous system and find your inner centre.
  • Think of a moment that made you happy. A memory that fills your heart with warmth and joy. Revel in this feeling. If you feel like smiling, let that smile arise!
  • Repeat three to four positive affirmations to yourself. For example: May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. May I receive appreciation. You can also come up with your own wishes.
  • Send these affirmations to a loved one and imagine that they are receiving them wherever they are.

Go deeper

As we mentioned, there are so many different types of meditation to explore. Therefore, we recommend diving deeper into the topic and trying different practices. Here are some resources for your meditation journey:



  • Headspace: This app has a library of countless guided meditations. Subscription: 5-12€ per month
  • 7mind: Beginners and experienced users can find courses and guided meditations. Basic subscription free; premium subscription 5€ per month
  • Calm: This app offers guided meditations, calming music and more. Price: ~35€
  • Aura: This customizable app offers different types of meditations. Free subscription.

Meditation is a beneficial daily habit to develop. You will soon see improvements in your general wellbeing and mental state. It’s easy to get started! You don’t need anything but yourself and a quiet spot. Use the information in this article as a starting point for your meditation journey and feel free to discover more and go into depth once you have some practices under your belt. Discover more mindfulness practices in this article!


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