Meditation is synonymous with mindfulness, the state of being aware of the present moment without judgement or evaluation. Yet meditation remains misunderstood. People pose questions such as:

Do I have to practice spirituality to meditate?

I want to achieve a state of (x/y/z), what is the best meditation for this?

What type of meditation is the best for me?

In this post, I will show why these questions are misguided and through clarification, how you can have the best mindsets for effective meditation practice. I’ll also provide concrete meditation techniques for you to do. 

Meditation has transformed the lives of many, past and present. When done properly it enhances one of the most valuable resources we have—our attention.

Since our attention is the foundation for everything we do, meditation has utility for everybody, lifestyle designer or not, abroad or domestic. If you’re not meditating, this article can show you how. If you’re already meditating, this article can still show you a thing or two.

Benefits of meditation

In a world deprived of sustained focus and concentration, meditation trains our awareness faculties giving us greater control over where we place our attention.

This also means our self-awareness benefits. Meditation improves our intrapersonal intelligence: our awareness of our own thoughts, emotions and motivations.

With this comes one of the greatest benefits of meditation—the ability to create space between us and our thoughts and thus gain control over how we respond to them. 

There’s a saying among meditation practitioners that you are not your thoughts. To those who’ve never practiced mindfulness before this sounds strange but it’s true. Our thoughts are only one part of what arises in our mind. If we allow them to dictate how we feel and act, we’re reactionary slaves rather than grounded with control.

Then there are the alleviating effects of meditation. Meditation practice is linked with relaxation. Research supports meditation’s effects in reducing stress, anxiety and depression in individuals. Due to the increasing scientific consensus on the positive effects of mindfulness-based techniques on health and wellbeing, meditation is being adopted as a healthcare intervention worldwide. The National Health Service of the UK offers therapy programmes that use meditation.

There’s one more benefit to mention, one that supersedes all the others. One that rarely gets mentioned, perhaps because people don’t actually notice it:

Meditation is good in and of itself.

It’s simply this. Even if meditation didn’t improve attention and awareness, didn’t make us less reactive to our thoughts and didn’t aid mental health, it would still be worthwhile.

When you experience a state of true mindful awareness, pure engagement with the present moment, it’s an excellence that’s hard to describe. But you’ll know it’s an excellence worth incorporating into your life more often.

Meditation Benefits

Misconceptions about meditation

Since meditation has entered the mainstream in the 21st century, there are some misunderstandings among those not trained by disciplines that have used meditation practice for centuries such as many Eastern religions.

As meditation is a practice about clarification, let’s provide clarification to common questions about it so you can begin your meditation journey with the right mindsets.

Do I have to practice spirituality to meditate?

Meditation understandably has an association with spiritual practice since it was pioneered by religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. These religious traditions have shed light on how to integrate mindfulness and meditation into daily life.

However, meditation itself doesn’t have to be a spiritual or religious practice. At its core, it’s a system for cultivating mindfulness and this can be achieved whether you’re religious or not.

Some practitioners find the spiritual teachings accompanying certain strands of meditation practice useful. Others don’t. What matters is that the meditation works for you.

If you want to connect with others and/or receive teaching but don’t want your mindfulness training to be spiritually-oriented, research a course in advance to see whether it fits your inclinations. The meditation practices I show below focus on mindfulness rather than spirituality.

However, learning from both spiritual and non-spiritual meditation practices is valuable as that will broaden your conception of mindfulness.

I want to achieve a state of (x/y/z), what is the best meditation for this?

Some people want a specific meditation for a state of mind such as relaxation, happiness or focus.

But believing you need to do a certain practice in order to achieve a certain state is the biggest misconception surrounding meditation.

For one, there isn’t a single meditation accepted as the best worldwide. Likewise, there aren’t individual best mediations for any particular state.

But more importantly, using meditation as a tool to achieve outcome x/y/z undermines the meditation itself.

Remember, a state of pure awareness of the present is excellence.

Meditation is a pathway to such excellence. The way to reach it more often is to not strive for outcomes but to follow the process.

Meditation is paradoxical. When you strive to reach the state you so desire, it’ll stay out of reach. It’s only when you let go and follow the process that you’ll reach profound awareness.

The originators of meditation from ancient Eastern traditions understood this. Unfortunately, much of this wisdom hasn’t been adopted by modern meditation practitioners in the West.

Don’t make your mood, happiness and concentration contingent upon successful meditation, just meditate with good form everyday. Over time, you’ll find that all those things improve without you needing to focus on any one specific practice.

What type of meditation is the best for me?

As indicated above, there isn’t a universal champion practice in the meditation world.

Meditation is a vessel for entering and cultivating mindfulness. The majority of techniques are perfectly suitable for the majority of people to achieve this.

Some practitioners (especially beginners) get hung up on whether there’s a particular method that’ll transform their practice. If they struggle with consistency or have moments of awareness relapse, they give up all too easily and seek perfection via another method.

But they aren’t focusing on what’s important with meditation: a way to mindful living.

All tried and trusted meditation techniques have principles that lead to mindful awareness. Pick one or two practices and commit to following them with proper form. If your attention relapses, you’ve begun your journey as a meditator—be disciplined and stick to the process and you’ll soon control your attention.

If you decide to receive in-person teaching, follow your teacher’s method exactly. Don’t mix and match meditation methods. Until you’re experienced and understand the principles behind the methods, mixing will risk lowering the effectiveness of meditation for you.

Meditation Vessel

Meditation practices

Now that we’ve covered a primer to meditating, here are two practices that you can do. Each of these practices takes around 15-20 minutes which is a good amount of time to properly incorporate meditation into your life.

The power of meditation comes from consistent practice. I recommend that you meditate everyday. You can either do one of these practices or both at separate times.

Sitting Meditation

1. Sit in Lotus position (each foot on the opposite thigh) or half Lotus position (one foot on the opposite thigh, the other foot tucked under the opposite knee). If you can’t do either pose, sit cross-legged and support your back such as with a wall or floor chair.

2. Adopt ‘Mountain posture’: sit up with your body erect and your back straight. Imagine you are being dangled by a cord going through the top of your head and down your spine that holds you up. At the same time, make sure your body is not tense and rigid. Your shoulders and arms should be relaxed with your hands resting on your knees.

3. Keep your gaze on the space directly in front of you.

4. While keeping your eyes open and your gaze in front of you, focus on your breathing. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Let your rate of breathing slow to a gentle pace. Notice the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breath.

5. At some point, your mind will begin to wander and various thoughts will arise. When they do, let them pass and return to the breath. Your attention will be challenged this way during the meditation process, particularly early on. When it is, refrain from becoming attached to any particular thought and return to focus your breathing. Make the attention on your breathing sacrosanct—your breathing is the present moment and that’s all that matters.

6. Continue this process for at least 15-20 minutes. You can continue for longer if you’d like.

7. If during a session you find focusing particularly challenging, lower your gaze slightly downwards. If you feel tired and sleepy during a session, raise your gaze upwards slightly.

Meditation Lotus

Body Scan Meditation

1. Stand upright with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. If you struggle to stand for many minutes at a time, you can sit on a chair with your back straight and feet touching the floor. While this type of meditation can be done in Lotus position or cross-legged, it benefits more from an open stance.

2. Adopt ‘Mountain posture’: keep your body erect and back straight without locking your knees. Imagine you are being dangled by a cord going through the top of your head and down your spine that holds you up. Keep your arms relaxed by your side and avoid making your body tense and rigid.

3. Keep your eyes closed during the meditation. Bring your attention to the sounds around you. Move your attention from sound to sound, becoming aware of the present moment.

4. Notice your breath. Pay attention to any sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale.

5. Now bring your attention to the soles of your feet. Notice any sensations in this area. Observe the sensations without any value judgement or description—there’s no right or wrong, they are what they are.

6. Move your attention up your body to the tops of your feet and calves. Again, observe any sensations in these areas without judgement, feel what you feel.

7. Gradually move your attention up your body, scanning each area one at a time in a way that allows you to observe each of them completely. Scan your body with your awareness this way until you reach the top of your head. If your mind wanders and thoughts arise, let them pass and return to the last point of the body you were scanning with your awareness.

8. Once you reach the top of your body, reverse the direction of your scanning. Observe any physical feelings and sensations in your head, then your neck, gradually moving downwards and scanning each area without rushing. Move your attention down your body this way until you reach the soles of your feet.

9. Remember to observe each area of your body without judgement. It doesn’t matter what sensation a part of your body gives off whether that’s itching, tingling, coldness, heat etc. They represent the reality of the present moment, accept them for what they are. Observe and move on.

10. Once you reach the bottom, place your attention again in the soles of your feet. While inhaling in a single breath, sweep your attention from the soles of your feet up through your body to the top of your head. Then exhale in a single breath and sweep down from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Continue for a while sweeping your attention through your body upwards on the inhale and downwards on the exhale.

11. After some moments of sweeping, bring your attention back to the sounds you can hear around you. At the same time, focus on feeling your body all at once. Expand your awareness beyond a single area and allow it to encompass your entire body.

12. After allowing yourself to rest in the state of full body awareness for a while, take a deep breath and exhale before opening your eyes to complete the meditation process.

Meditation Standing


We don’t often associate meditation with lifestyle design. But as a way of enhancing our attention and awareness, meditation forms the bedrock for many successful lifestyle designers worldwide.

Meditating confers many benefits: it develops our attention and self-awareness, makes us less reactive to impulsive thoughts and improves our mental health and wellbeing.

Most important of all is that meditation is good in and of itself. The state of pure awareness it leads to is profoundly worthwhile.

Modern practitioners who haven’t learned meditation from a traditional school can have misconceptions. You don’t have to be spiritual to do meditation. Nor is there a single best practice  out there. Follow a principle-based method and you’ll meditate just fine.

Lastly, meditation is a pathway to excellence. Don’t use it with the hope of achieving a certain state immediately. When you meditate consistently, you’ll find that your state will improve as a by-product of your practice.

Whatever your lifestyle, the present moment matters the most. As Alan Watts remarked: “Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”