What is meditation?

Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

What is mindfullness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment, free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

What is the difference?

Meditation is the training ground for learning mindfulness. At first, we meditate to become familiar with the here and now for a limited period of time. Over time, however, regularly practicing mindfulness helps us develop the ability to be present throughout the day, every day.



Virtual Class Available - Tuesdays at 5:00 pm

Looking Within: Developing a daily "home" Mindfulness Mediation practice.  Ongoing Virtual Zoom Series. Designed as a “how to’ technique workshop approach – how to sit & practice meditation. Beginning with physical postures and working through to undoing deeper emotional habits.

 Join me - Larry Birkett - I’ve been practicing various formal mediation techniques in the Tibetan, Vipassana and Zen Buddhist traditions for 10+ years and have experience teaching yoga teachers, inmates in correctional facilities, and faculty/staff/students at MU for about 5 years.

*** You do not have to be Buddhist to practice Mindfulness Mediation - it's just happens to be where the roots of the practice are, but the techniques and benefits are available to people of any & all faith/spiritual traditions including no faith / spiritual traditions. ALL are welcome! ***

  • Types of Meditation
  • Benefits of Guided Meditation
  • Basic Tips for Guided Meditation
  • Meditation Guide

1. Focused attention: This form of meditation is fairly straightforward because it uses the object of our breath to focus attention, to anchor the mind and maintain awareness. Notice your mind starting to wander? Simply return to the breath.

2. Body scan: This technique is designed to sync body and mind by performing a mental scan, from the top of the head to the end of your toes. 

3. Visualization: This type of meditation invites you to picture something or someone in your mind — we are essentially replacing the breath with a mental image as the object of focus.

4. Loving Kindness: Focusing on the image of different people — it doesn’t matter if we know them or not, if we like them or not — is integral to this technique.

5. Resting Awareness: Rather than focusing on the breath or a visualization, this technique involves letting the mind truly rest; thoughts may enter, but instead of distracting you and pulling you away from the present moment, they simply drift away.

6. Reflection: This technique invites you to ask yourself a question: perhaps something such as, “What are you most grateful for?” Be aware of the feelings, not the thoughts, that arise when you focus on the question.

  • It can literally grow the gray matter in your brain -neuroplasticity 
  • The brain is reshaping itself, its chemical pathways and cells by adapting to our thought patterns, environments, and experiences 
  • The more we train for “positive thinking”, the likelier we are to think positively in the future and see things optimistically 
  • Lowers stress/cortisol levels/anxiety 
  • Can help you separate what already happened from what you’re adding to what happened, making negative situations more manageable  
  • It can reduce chronic pain 
  • It can improve sleep quality 
  • Commit to a regular practive, a few times a week if possible. Be clear about the time you will carve out and where you will sit. A popular time to meditate is first thing in the morning. Same time, same place will help you build your meditation practice.
  • Wear whatever you like. The important thing is that you are comfortable and relaxed. 
  • You can meditate inside or outside and can sit on the floor, a cushion, bench, chair, or anything else that works for you. Sitting toward the front of the chair will help with the correct posture: back straight, neck relaxed, chin slightly tucked in. Rest your hands loosely on your lap or knees.
  • Be clear on your motivation. The reasons to meditate are broad and subjective as well as different for everybody. But it’s helpful to start with a clear motivation — to know why you are wanting to meditate.
  • Take any position you'd like (sitting, laying), and close your eyes.
  • The goal of this exercise is todiscover our sense of humility and gratitude towards the Earth. Seeing where we are (WestTownSquare, in the middle of the city), it may seem hard to connect with nature and in a way, that's exactly why it's so important. In the city it can be so much harder to remember all the ways in which the earth supports us. 
  • First, we will close our eyes and center ourselves. Let's relax into our current position and focus on the breath. 
  • Take a few deep breaths, slowly inhaling and exhaling, noticing your lungs filling up with air and your stomach expanding with each inhale. Fully exhale, noticing your stomach shrinking and your lungs completely emptying. As you do this, take note of any anxiety or worry that is already slipping away, simply by this action.It invigorates your blood and helps you do the good work that you do. As you inhale again, consider how the air fuels your body, filling you with life. As you exhale, imagine your breath returning to the atmosphere and reconnecting you with it.  We'll focus on the breath for another minute. 
  • If you feel like your thoughts are wandering, gently label those thoughts as thoughtslet them go,refocusingon the breath. We aren't judging thosethoughts. Youcan do the same thing with external noise. We don't need perfect silence for this practice. We can simply acknowledge the sounds we might here and label them as thoughts, then gently revert to the breath. It's not easy at first but gets better with practice. 
  • Stay in this moment for a couple of breaths and notice how your body feels in your surroundings.
  • Now, consider the parts of your body that are in contact with the earth. Feel the pressure of the ground supporting you. It won't fail you. Here, you are secure. 
  • The Earth provides us with everything we need; from the fresh fruits and vegetables we consume, to the water that hydrates us, to theheatit retains from the sun to keep us warm. 
  • Something large and magnificent: 
    • Imaginestanding in front ofsome part of nature that is so much bigger than us.  It could be a waterfall, the Grand Canyon, a lake, a forest preserve or a single tree. 
    • It could be a place or thing that you have personally experienced or one that you've seen in pictures.  Now we're going to imagine it as vividly as possible. 
    • Let's start with sight.  Paint the details of what you see in your mind.  What colors stand out? What do you see when you look up above you? Down below you?  What wildlifecallthis place their home?  What movement do you notice,if any? Is there constant motion? Perfect stillness? 
    • What do you hear?  The wind? Wildlife chattering? Water rushing? 
    • Can you feel the warmth of the sun? Or are you in a cold place?  What does the wind or breeze feel like on your skin?  If you are barefoot, what does the ground feel like beneath your feet?
    • Is the air full of a fragrance?  Does it smell like soil or flowers or plants?  Or is the air crisp and clean smelling? 
  • Pausefor some breaths

  • Something small and magnificent: 
    • Now considera part of nature that is so much smaller than us.  It could be a small animal, a spider web,aplant. 
    • Again, it could be asomething that you have personally experienced or one that you've seen in pictures. Now we're going to imagine it as vividly as possible.
    • Paint the details of what you see in your mind. What colors stand out?What details can you pick out that you might not have noticed before?What movement do you notice,if any? Is there constant motion? Perfect stillness?
    • Does it make a sound?  Does the wind make a sound when it passes by it?
    • Do you feel coolness or warmth when you touch it? What textures are there? 
    • Does it have a fragrance? 
  • As you inhale again,bring your mind back tohow the airstillfuels your body, filling you with life.  As you exhale, imagine your breathstillreturning to the atmosphere andkeeping you connected with it.  After a few more breaths, feel free to open your eyes.
  • Questions/Ideasto pose (no pun intended) during yoga: 

  • The Earth provides us with everything we need; from the fresh fruits and vegetables we consume, to the water that hydrates us, to the warmth it retains from the sun to keep us warm. 
  • Do you feel how your feet are firmly planted into the earth? 
  • As you inhale, consider how the air fuels your body, filling you with life.  As you exhale, imagine yourbreath returning to the atmosphere and reconnecting you with it. 
  • When you feel a breeze come by, considerhowyou have been a part of its path.  It has come from far away and brushes you as it continues on. Just like you're a part of that breeze's story, you're part of the Earth's story. 


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