7 Tips To Experience Deep Meditation

When it’s time for your sitting session, you can simply sit down and start. That’s what I was doing in the first few years of my practice. Or you can take a couple of minutes to center and “prepare” yourself – and your meditation session will be more pleasant and quiet.

I took me a long time to learn these hacks, and I wish I had known them before. That’s why I decided to write about them, so you can shortcut your learning curve, and experience deep meditation sessions more often.

The first three hacks are part of the preparation process and can take from two 20 minutes – it’s entirely up to you. You don’t need to go through all these elements, but I found that each of them is helpful.

The fourth and fifth hack are attitudes that you can develop during practice that will aid your concentration. And the last two ones is about what you do after your practice.

At the bottom of this page you will find a button to download the free PDF with these 7 hacks.

BEFORE

(1) Calm Your Body And Breath

Our mind, body and breath are interconnected. So relaxing the body and calming the breath will naturally calm the mind as well. The parasympathetic nervous system gets activated, and as a result the stress response will be down-regulated. That is why, in the system of Yoga practice, one works with postures (asanas) and breathing regulation (pranayama).

Short version

Once you sit on your cushion/chair, take three to five full breaths – breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Make them as long, even, and deep as possible.

  • Breathing in, center yourself in the present moment
  • Breathing out, consciously relax all the muscles in your body, letting go of all tension

Pay special attention to relaxing the jaw, throat, tongue, and forehead.

Long version: 

Take 5-10 minutes to do the following 9 Yoga Asanas, so you can relax and lighten up the body.

Then, for five minutes, do the following breathing exercise:

  • Breathe in for 4 seconds, through the nose
  • Breathe out for 8 seconds, through the nose

 

Instead of 4-8 seconds, you can go for 3-6, or 5-10, 6-12, etc. The important thing is that we are aiming for the exhalation to be longer than the inhalation (ideally double). That may be hard in the beginning, so you grow into it as you go.

Breathing should be soft, even, and as soundless as possible. Do not force yourself – it should be comfortable. So adjust your count according to your capacity.

For a more in-depth resource on relaxation of body and breath as a support for meditation, see this article.

(2) Gladden The Mind

Our brain is deeply wired to avoid pain, and seek pleasure. So if you can generate some stable feelings of safety and contentment, right before your meditation, you are sending a message to your brain that all is well, and it need not be restless.

When our mind is joyful and content, it is naturally more quiet, introverted, and together. So after relaxing your body and mind, I advise you to gladden the mind by doing one of these:

  • Remember something that you are grateful for
  • Remember the joy of meditation (if you have already experienced that)
  • Tell yourself that all is safe and well in this moment
  • Feel good that you are taking time to heal, grow, and master your mind
  • If you believe in God, doing a short prayer before meditation can help set a mood of attention, sacredness and centeredness

Also, if you have practiced loving-kindness meditation before, you know you have the capacity to kindle feelings of love and compassion in your heart, and that doing that brings in joy. So you can remember these feelings, or generate them inside yourself, for a couple of minutes before meditation.

To explore more this fact, I recommend listening to episode 149 of Buddhist Geeks, on “neurodharma”.

Also, for increasing the feeling of safety, allocate a safe and quiet place for your meditation and remove anything that may interrupt your practice such as your mobile, pets, etc. Inform those that may need your attention to be respectful of the space and the time you are allocating for your practice and not to create any abrupt noise or move in and out of the room. If you cannot find such a place, alternatively you can use earplugs or headphones to cover your ears.

(3) Affirm Your Intention

Taking a few moments to just focus your intention before practice can do wonders for your meditation.

You can do this by saying to yourself, with intention and presence, something like this:

For the next X minutes I will only focus on my meditation. There is nothing else for me to do and nothing else for me to think about during this time. Mind, please don’t disturb me. I will start concentrating now.

Determination and will power are very important. As Swami Rama says, “I can do it. I will do it. I am going to do it.” This is an essential key to deepen your meditation.

If you feel you don’t have good determination or will power, don’t worry. By practicing setting up your intention in this way, you slowly start developing these muscles.

DURING

(4) Don’t Suffer The Distractions

During your meditation practice, it is important never to criticize yourself, or feel bad about getting distracted with thoughts. These types of thoughts are harmful and not in line with the spirit of good meditation.

Learn to be gentle with yourself during your practice. For decades you have trained your mind to be distracted; so it will take some time to train it to be focused. Be patient and kind with yourself.

(5) Delight in Concentration


There will be moments when your mind is more focused on the meditation object. When this happens, it’s important to delight in it. Enjoy how quiet, stable and unified the mind gets.

Mind’s most fundamental habit is to seek pleasure/well-being and shun pain/suffering. By teaching the mind to appreciate the joy of concentration, it starts working more towards increasing that, by facilitating more focus.

According to the Buddha, joy (piti) and happiness (sukha) are two of the five factors of meditative absorption (jhanna). The more you learn to open up and enjoy your meditation, the less reasons there are for the mind to get restless thinking of other things.

This practice is very useful when your concentration is still wavering. Once concentration gets solid and stable, however, there is no need to disturb the mind with these thoughts and intentions – just stay there.

AFTER

(6) Gentle Transition

When the bell rings, get out of your meditation gently, not hurriedly. Keep the mind in the same state, gently move your fingers and neck, and then open your eyes. This transition helps you bring more of the “meditation feeling” into your daily life.

(7) Keep a Journal

I highly encourage you to then take some notes about how your practice went. This helps you solidify the meditation habit. It also develops a greater understanding of the workings of the mind, and the mechanics of meditation.

A simple entry could answer these three questions:

  • How long did I sit?
  • How do I feel now?
  • How was my mind during meditation?

For the third question, you can note things like how many times you got distracted, what types of thoughts or feelings were you experiencing, and for how long you could keep focused.

CONCLUSION

By integrating these 7 elements in your routine, your meditation can be deeper, more enjoyable and more transformative. Here’s a summary:

  • Before meditation
    • Relax your body and breath, to calm down and center yourself;
    • Gladden the mind with gratitude or other positive feelings;
    • Have strong intention in your mind
  • During meditation
    • Don’t feel bad about getting distracted
    • Find delight in the moments of concentration
  • After meditation
    • Move out of meditation gently
    • Take notes in your journal

In my beginners/intermediate meditation course I integrate these seven tips and other valuable principles. If you feel you still don’t know what you are doing in terms of meditation, or need help building a practice that is consistent and deep, check it out.

I would love to hear how these hacks affect your practice and daily life. Please leave a comment sharing your experience.

Here is the PDF & worksheets I promised you:

[If you are already part of my mailing list, don’t worry, only one instance of your email will be kept. No duplicate messages will ever be sent.

Meditate on!

  • pablo4twenty

    great tips Giovanni!

  • Do you know of any other tips? I’d be keen to hear!

    • Hi Giovanni. Excellent post. Some users of Breathe Sync use it as both a preparation for meditation and as preparation for focused work. Have you tried it? Michael

    • Haven’t tried. If you want to send me a promocode, I’ll try.

    • Bogdan

      For me, it is helpful to breath not only with lungs but with all my body. It helps to feel my spine long and I imagine that it touches the sky and the lower part of my body grounded, deeply rooted into the earth. This gives me a sense of stability and then, and in this stability I relax my entire body.
      Thank you for your interest in posting good things! 🙂

  • Anna

    I always enjoy your writing. Thank you for this summary. Maybe this is similar, I sometimes focus on the sensations of my body beginning to relax and it’s fascinating what I notice from time to time. Energy vibrating between my hands like a magnet, the back of my head tingling, my head beginning to bob and weave or pulsating with my heart beat, and even the sound of the electricity running through my brain, if that makes sense.

    • Thanks, Anna.
      Paying attention to bodily sensations is a good way to relax prior to meditation. Once you have good relaxation, then you can move on to the main part of the technique.

  • Lahiru

    Very interesting post Giovanni, thanks! I usually practice loving kindness meditation at the end of a session with the intention to slowly ending my practice. But lately I have found myself feeling more focused after practicing loving kindness than during my meditation practice, which always leaves me wanting to sit a little bit longer.
    Your post came at the right time as I was wondering whether I should be changing my practice around and start with LK since it is how my mind seems to find its focus. Gladdening of the mind is the answer I needed! Thank you.

    • That’s awesome to hear, Lahiru!

      The other day I heard an interview with Joseph Goldstein, and he also mentioned that for him loving kindness was the technique that allowed him to develop concentration.

  • Cool. I downloaded and will have a look.

  • Ivan Petricevic

    Very nice article Giovanni. I’ll try these steps. Love the joy of concentration concept.

  • I tried the app but honestly didn’t like it. First, the UI is confusing and clunky to use. Second, I didn’t find the measures accurate at all.
    The idea is promissing, though.

  • gijs

    very good,

    a little complicated for beginners.

    i start feeling my toes …

  • Kamil Olszak

    Great technique. I had used it and experienced a very deep state of meditation. Thank you for the awesome work you’re doing.

  • David

    Awesome tips Giovanni! I am still new to deep meditation and found this list very helpful! I love the idea of keeping a journal of my practices. I can’t wait to try this out!

  • Really agree with you here Giovanni. To create the right place to touch stillness needs some preparation… same as any art or ritual. Will remember to make time for this in future, thanks.

  • Beautiful and simple. This meditation noob will try these and report back 🙂

  • Yami

    This article is just perfect for the beginner to enter the wonderful world of meditation and enjoy the bliss and benifits of it.

    I found this website also interesting,especially for guided meditation.

    http://www.meditationmusicparadise.com/

  • Dave

    Good tips Giovanni as I’ve practiced similarly at least with regard to the preparation to Meditation however avoid Gladdening the Mind as that is simply Moodmaking (although this could help others), avoid intention since for me that precedes meditation and not interested in concentration as that term suggests forcing dualism thereby preventing the mind from easily transcending toward the Source. The Mind naturally goes toward fields of greater delight deep within so any concentration will slow down the process of transcending. I don’t delight in meditation focus as that interferes with the deeper meditative processes. Distracting thoughts can be a sign of unstressing so welcome them in my meditation and simply return to the innocent use of the mantra. Forcing concentration can lead into an ASC (altered state of consciousness) which is not a deeper level of awareness of consciousness. I prefer to avoid the use of concentration altogether as that has too many negative connotations rather deeper states of absorption. I believe this is really what is meant by the first 4 Jhanas but how fast or slow they are entered depends on the practice. Based on my understanding Buddhism practices in general are very slow in entering the jhanas.

    • From your thoughts I can see a strong influence of Mahesh of TM. His views are in opposition with most teachings of the tradition and of past masters, regarding meditation and concentration.

      Again, we move into the direction of those whose model we follow; I prefer to follow the model of beings like Buddha, Patanjali and Ramana Maharshi. And all of them make clear that concentration leads to one-pointedness of mind, which leads to Samadhi/Jhanna.

      What many people call Jhanna or Samadhi out there is not the true state, but a preliminary and flimsy state that is still miles away from true absorption. And, if the attitude is that concentration is an obstacle, true Samadhi will not be achieved.

      I suggest you read the book Practicing the Jhannas to clarify some of these points. I can tell from my own experience that concentration leads to deep states of bliss, peace and insight much more reliably than the “transcending” ideas of Mahesh.

    • Dave

      Appreciate your comments Giovanni and am interested in the Jhanas/Samadhi so would
      like to examine that book. I’ve also noticed a strong influence of Buddhism running through this blog and have been studying this philosophy for years but to date must admit to not being impressed overall. Nothing has been written down by the buddha and only hundreds of years after his passing was there writing based on passed down memories.
      The goal of meditation is not to produce deep states of Jhanas but rather to create the conditions whereby deep meditation can occur. Jhanas or Samadhi is beneficial to the extent that purification is triggered so it is not of particular import the length of time spent therein. Witnessing is an excellent sign of spiritual growth (more important than mindfulness) in fact to be in the stream means 3 things primarily: witnessing the body, continuous joy throughout the body and experiencing thoughts in the speech center of the subtle body. I apply both Patanjalis, Yoganadas and MMY meaning for levels of Samadhi as you know. It took me 23 years to reach the Stream but that was because I applied physical practices of purification besides various mantra based meditations whereas in this age of stress/toxins then simply relying on mental practices will unlikely lead one to enlightenment let alone the stream in their lifetime. I’m still looking for a Buddhist or any other regular meditator who has been regular for 25 yrs or less to have successfully completed the first stage. If you read the vague incomplete meaning of the first buddhist stage then anyone could convince themselves they made it…although I still reference such writing in my work??? Better to rely on contemporary enlightened gurus like Swami Muktananda who spells it out in Hindu terms the meaning of the first and later stages. He applies the Soham practice, etc.. Too much confusion and vagueness in ancient writings for my technical taste. :). Can’t comment on your experience but know from my own that concentration can lead to ASCs rather than deeper levels of thought/Samadhi. However I’ve long suspected that given a long enough time concentration may tire the mind to the point that it gives up and drops into one or another samadhi level but that is too slow approach for my purposes. If one believes work is required to reach deeper stages than no doubt one would come to value their attainment and possibly devalue other ‘easier’ approaches?? Based on 40+ years of meditation experimentation than must disagree that concentration is the only way to transcend into deep states of bliss. I’ve managed to remain in a deep state of bliss, peace for over 1.5 hrs at a time.
      Suggest the book: Body of Light by John Mann. Good discussion.

    • Dave

      Glad you mentioned the deep state of bliss, peace and insight which is indeed a deep state ie. third stage of Samadhi. Of course that is not the deepest state which is the 4th or merging into oneness or pure consciousness. Non-duality or non-experiential is the deepest state and upon emerging from results in wonderful state of bliss and an expansion of awareness. If total submersion is very brief there will still be benefits most important of which is stress release that tends to force one back to a lower level of Samadhi. Purification of energy channels/chakras is the most important benefit of deep meditation since that is what moves one down the direct path toward the higher stages…but of course the bliss is a wonderful side benefit. 🙂

    • Yes, there are arguments for both sides. Some people like more the Yogic way, others the Buddhist way, etc. I have moved through different circles, so I understand the arguments of both sides, but I’m not particularly attached to any.

      I think the idea you have of concentration is more “striving”, rather than proper, “right concentration”. In this one, there is always a balance between relaxation and effort. If you are too much on either effort or relaxation, the results are not good.

  • Noone

    sorry to say but the way you are saying is kind of misleading on how to properly meditate i myself know but refuse to say for reasons

    • Hi Noone,
      This is based on the traditional teachings of meditation from several traditions. If you want to point out what you think is wrong, we can then talk about it.

  • Mari Tanaka

    Hello Konnichiwa wonderful Giovanni!
    I started meditating a month ago and got a severe problem… My lower back hurts so bad that sometimes I can’t sleep…
    I like meditating on the floor and I put a pillow under my butt but still not comfortable… If you have any tips for my problem, please let us know.
    Best Arigatou!

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