Meditation is an incredibly powerful part of your emotional embuffination toolbox. Practiced on a regular basis it will help you to develop a calmness that you can bring to any stressful or conflict based-situation. That calmness will change how the situation unfolds. Further, you can use meditation in the midst of moments of crisis to simply calm yourself down. You can also use meditation to alter your behaviors to bring you greater success and help you to manifest the things you want in life.

The Different Meditation Approaches

There are two broad meditation approaches. One is what I call a “no-mind” meditation, where the objective is to essentially shut your brain off and learn to effectively calm and quiet it. The other (which I don’t have a label for) involves self-indoctrinating an idea or working through paths to solve problems or succeed. This could be such things as utilization of autosuggestion to tell yourself a mantra. It could involve using visualization to break down how you’re going to solve problems in your life or complete a project you’re working on. It could even be imagining people to help you with something you don’t know how to proceed on.

Note that to some extent these are not mutually exclusive practices. No-mind meditations train you to effectively maintain focus. Keeping focus on the thing you are working through is important in the other form of meditation.

Regardless, if you aren’t already meditating, at a bare minimum, try making it a part of your daily routine. If you are already meditating regularly, try out some different approaches to meditation.

What’s On This Page

This page includes the following (or will include, since I’m adding content to this page):

  • Description of tools you can use in meditation.
  • An explanation of the basics of how to meditate.
  • Descriptions of different ways you can meditate.
  • Troubleshooting common problems run into during meditation.

I highly recommend trying out different forms of meditation and seeing what works well for you. I cycle through different meditations each day of the week (I even put on my calendar which one I’m going to do each day). If you feel like you have questions that remain unanswered after reviewing this page, please let me know and I’ll do my best to add content in response.

In this video we’ll go over the basic elements of meditating that are applicable to most of the different types of meditation. More specifically, we’ll talk about:

  • The importance of making meditation part of your daily routine
  • How much time you should spend meditating
  • Trying different kinds of meditation
  • The form used in meditation
  • How to breathe
  • Setting yourself up for few distractions
  • Using low-light
  • Not having expectations

The Video

In the video above we look at how to do mindfulness meditation. More specifically, we’ll review such things as:

  • Physical form
  • Time spent
  • Mental aspects
  • Dealing with distractions

What Is Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is essentially the practice of bringing your mind to where you are right now and preventing it from drifting anywhere else. It’s about paying attention to the sensations you’re feeling right this second, not thinking about what might happen in the future, what did happen in the past, what you could have done differently in the past, or what you’re going to do sometime later.

What’s It For

Mindfulness meditation is great for training your mind to focus on what’s going on right now and right where you are. That skill is extraordinarily useful in reducing the tendency to catastrophize. In other words, when things aren’t going the way we want to, our minds often start to jump around to every conceivable negative “what-if” situation and we work ourselves into a frenzy. Mindfulness helps to stop all that.

How To Do It

First, find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Set a timer to go off when you want to finish your meditation. If you’ve never done this before, I’d recommend starting around five minutes. Over time, slowly increase the amount of time you spend on this. It doesn’t take long before 30 minutes seems easy to do.

Settle into a comfortable breathing pattern. Make sure you are fully inhaling, holding your breath for a few seconds, and fully exhaling.

Once you’ve established a breathing pattern pay attention to your form. Find a relaxed position you can sit in for a while. Sit up straight. During each breath, think about relaxing your body as much as possible without crumpling out of your sitting position.

Next, pay attention to your thoughts. Force yourself to think about what you’re feeling in your body this exact second. For example, think about the sensation in the tips of your fingers. Think about what you’re feeling in the center of your chest. You can pick a particular spot and keep your mind on that or explore other areas of your body with your thoughts.

Inevitably, you will find your mind starts to drift. One second, you’ll be thinking about the center of your body, then you’re thinking about what you’re going to be making for dinner, or where you’re going later today, or that project you haven’t finished yet. The second you catch yourself drifting, immediately stop and bring your mind back to your body.

Control your thoughts without any judgment. In other words, just bring your mind right back to your body. Don’t allow yourself to get upset about the thing you were thinking or about the fact that your mind drifted in the first place. Just immediately return your thoughts back to yourself without judging them. Repeat this until the timer goes off. This part of the exercise will get you used to controlling where your thoughts go and training yourself not to get caught up in the frustration of the emotion cycle (we’ll discuss this more fully in the Acceptance Without Judgment section below).

Finally, have an awareness of what’s going on around you but don’t allow yourself to react to what’s going on unless absolutely necessary. As an example, a common issue that arises while I meditate is that somewhere on my body, I’ll develop an itch. The natural impulse is to start scratching that itch. But during this exercise, I’ll instead acknowledge it’s there and then just leave it alone. Eventually, the itch will pass, and I remain sitting. Another potential scenario involves a fly landing on your skin. Again, the natural reaction is to want to brush it off. But train yourself to ignore it. The objective is to train yourself to not just react to things that are happening around you but instead to process what’s going on and make yourself calm despite things outside of you.

That’s it. The exercise needs to be done on a regular basis. It needs to be routine, much like going to the gym. You must find a way to schedule it and do it often. Over time you’ll become calmer when presented with stressors.


There’s a growing body of scientific research regarding the benefits of mindfulness meditation. As an example, see the following:

This study found that mindfulness meditation reduced stress more than generic stress reduction techniques in people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

Mantra-based meditation employs the power of autosuggestion to reinforce a message you want to self-indoctrinate. Note that this is different from Transcendental Meditation (which generally requires a teacher to give you a mantra, often in another language). In this style of meditation, you must first select a mantra. Once you’ve selected the mantra, you meditate on that mantra by repeating it to yourself over and over again in your head. You can also do it out loud if you prefer, but that isn’t required.

Mantra Selection

Guidelines to follow when creating your mantra include the following:

  • Make sure that your mantra is relatively short and easy to repeat.
  • Make sure that your mantra is stated in the affirmative (e.g., state something like, “I am healthy,” not “I am not sick.”). This way you aren’t putting emphasis or energy into the negative state you want to avoid.
  • Make sure that the mantra is reflective of what you want to become or accomplish.

The Invisible Counselor meditation derives from the book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill (1938). In it, he describes an exercise he did, as follows:

Long before I had ever written a line for publication or endeavored to deliver a speech in public, I followed the habit of reshaping my own character by trying to imitate the nine men whose lives and lifeworks had been most impressive to me. These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford, and Carnegie. Every night, over a long period of years, I held an imaginary council meeting with this group whom I called my “Invisible Counselors.” The procedure was this. Just before going to sleep at night, I would shut my eyes and see, in my imagination, this group of men seated with me around my council table. Here I had not only an opportunity to sit among those whom I considered to be great, but I actually dominated the group by serving as the chairman.

Adapting this practice to a meditation therefore, involves the following steps:

  • Selecting your invisible council members by deciding who embodies your desired characteristics (it does not have to be the ones Hill selected).
  • Sitting in a standard meditation position.
  • Closing your eyes.
  • Identifying a problem you’re having or a characteristic you want to embody.
  • Having an imaginary discussion with your council regarding the above.

Gratitude-based meditation looks like most of the other meditations on the outside. In other words, you sit, breathe, close your eyes, and time yourself as you would with the meditations listed above.

What’s unique about this meditation is you make yourself come up with and repeat things you are grateful for over and over until your meditation is done. There are two major benefits to doing this:

(1) It will change the way approach your day and will reframe the way you’re thinking in a much more positive way.

(2) It’s fantastic for times when you’re in conflict with someone or something to help you de-escalate some of the negative feelings you have and alter your approach to the underlying conflict.

Learn more about the power of gratitude in the ‘Tude Movement, here.

When you start doing any of these meditations there are a number of common experiences and/or problems that can arise. This section lists out many of them and what to do when those things happen.

Generally there are three things you can do when problems arise:

(1) Ignore it – Many of the problems simply go away if you push through them.

(2) Fix it Sometimes you have a problem that’s too great to ignore. In that case, you can do something to remedy the problem and proceed with your meditation.

(3) Stop Meditating Occasionally a problem is so great that it’s going to completely stop you from proceeding. In that case you might need to quit your meditating and come back to it later.

Some of the common issues that arise include:

Physical Pain:

(1) Ignore It – A lot of physical pain is connected to our minds. Try, at least initially, to just let the pain be. Frequently it will go away if you work on accepting it.

(2) Fix It – Sometimes, however, the pain becomes too much. If that’s the case, stop your meditation and do something to adjust yourself into a position that’s less painful. When I picked up meditation after a knee surgery, I had a ton of pain in one of my ankles. I tried to push through, but just found myself fixating on that pain way more than I should have been. When I started propping my knees up with pillows, the stress on my ankles went away and I was able to comfortably resume meditation. Try sitting in different positions to alleviate pain. Use a chair. Lay down. Use pillows or things to soften places where pain is arising. Take some ibuprofen. Get creative with ways to solve the problem.

(3) Stop Meditating – This should always be a last resort, but, if you simply cannot get through the meditation because it hurts too much-stop. If you do stop, however, make sure that you PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick this back up. You might even pay attention to times of day the pain is worst and pick a different time. For example, if you notice overwhelming joint pain when you wake up, try meditating later in the day when your body has warmed up a bit more. The important thing is you don’t just stop. Often altering your mental state through meditation will cause the underlying pain to go away over time, so make sure you come back to it.


(1) Ignore It – As with other problems, simply allowing dizziness to be and pushing through it will frequently cause it to subside. However, one important question is WHY you’re feeling dizzy. If the dizziness is the product of some underlying physical condition, be cautious with your approach and do what you need to with respect to the condition. On the other hand, if the dizziness is CAUSED BY THE MEDITATION (which it sometimes is for me, especially in meditations involving yourself imagining movement, like an Expanding Energy Field meditation) then try really hard to push through until it subsides.

(2) Fix It – If the meditation seems to be causing your dizziness and it won’t go away, try opening your eyes and fixating on a stationary point. Treat it in the same way you might deal with car sickness. Focus on something that isn’t moving, then return to a closed-eye state and resume. Also, make sure you’re breathing fully. Sometimes shallow breathing can create problems like dizziness.

(3) Stop Meditating – As with other problems, this should be a last resort. If you do stop, however, make sure that you PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick this back up.

Seeing Lights: 

For me, seeing lights was pretty common when I first started meditation, especially in no-mind-style meditations. I’ve heard some people think they’re experiencing something magical when it happens. I personally believe it’s more a function of your brain freaking out at a lack of stimulus. Your mind really wants to have things going on. A big part of most meditations is either stopping all stimulus or focusing what you’re experiencing. When your brain isn’t used to experiencing nothing, it starts to generate things in a frantic effort to have stimulus. A common one is lights like you might see if you looked at a bright light, then closed your eyes and saw spots.

(1) Ignore It – More than with any other problem, you should try and push through the light issue. Just keep meditating.

(2) Fix It – If the lights you’re experiencing don’t seem to match up with my description above, it may be caused by something else entirely. If it feels like it’s something physical, try speaking with a doctor.

(3) Stop Meditating – Once again, stopping should be a last resort. Try your best to get through the meditation, but if you simply can’t, then stop. Just PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick it back up.

Distractions: (Background noise, barking dogs, my kids are yelling outside, etc.)

This is a really common one and learning to get through this is one of the purposes of meditation. Distractions can be anything from noise, to physical distractors. I commonly run into dogs barking in the background as a problem. Sometimes one of my cats will come up and start meowing at me and rubbing up against me seeking attention. A bug landing on your skin could be another distraction.

(1) Ignore It – Because being able to get through distractions is a critical element and lesson of meditation, you should really really try and get through this. Many distractions will subside over time. If you ignore the cat, eventually she’ll stop rubbing up against you. The dogs will at some point get tired of barking. Do your best to nudge your mind back to your meditation despite the distractions.

(2) Fix It – If for some reason the distractions are overwhelming and simply won’t stop, see if you can remedy the problem. If your kid won’t stop tapping your should, stop the meditation, ask what’s wrong, fix it, then ask to be left to your meditation for a few minutes. Once you’ve solved whatever the problem is, pick it back up.

(3) Stop Meditating – Once again, stopping should be a last resort. Try your best to get through the meditation, but if you simply can’t, then stop. Just PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick it back up.

Runny Nose:

In Arizona I seasonally run into this one a lot. Full breathing can be tough sometimes because of it.

(1) Ignore It – If you can, ignore it. Sometimes it will pass and you can just resume meditation unaffected.

(2) Fix It – If you’re getting to a point where snot is going to be streaming over your body or you’re so stuffed up you can’t breathe, stop and blow your nose then pick the meditation back up. You should also get into the habit of making sure your airways are clear before you begin the meditation. I almost always blow my nose out pretty thoroughly before I start and I keep a box of tissue near the couch I typically meditate on. If necessary, take some allergy medications.

(3) Stop Meditating – Once again, stopping should be a last resort. Try your best to get through the meditation, but if you simply can’t proceed without feeling like Bill Murray after running into Slimer, then stop. Just PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick it back up.


Yeah, you can snicker (go on, get it out of your system), but sometimes this happens. Depending on what you ate before you started or the night before, flatulence can cause a lot of disturbing issues, including pain.

(1) Ignore It – As with other problems, you should try your best to get through this and keep your focus on the meditation.

(2) Fix It – Because flatulence can rise to a level of disturbing internal noises or pain, sometimes it becomes necessary to do something. If you’re by yourself, let it out–yeah, just fart. If you need to, go use the restroom. Also, pay attention to what you’re eating that caused you to feel this way in the first place. Did you overeat? Can you reduce or modify your food intake in a way that will prevent this from happening in the future?

(3) Stop Meditating – Once again, stopping should be a last resort. Try your best to get through the meditation, but if you simply can’t, then stop. Just PROMISE yourself you will try again. Pick a specific time to pick it back up. You might have to do something as distant from a time you ate as possible.

Negative Feelings:

I find this is a common one when something is going on in my life I can’t stop thinking about. Some person is doing something that’s pissing you off. Your home is being foreclosed on and you can’t stop thinking about it.

(1) Ignore It – Do you best to stay focused on your meditation. This is another problem that meditation was kind of made for. Just keep meditating.

(2) Fix It – If your brain simply won’t stay focused on the meditation (and you’ve really really tried), try switching your meditation style. For example, if you’re doing a mindfulness meditation and your brain just keeps right back to how your ex is making you angry because of the thing he/she did yesterday, shift into repeatedly asking yourself what you’re grateful for, especially about the thing that’s upsetting you. You might say, “I’m grateful for the times we had together,” or “I’m grateful for the challenge this person is bringing me because it’s going to force me to level up my emotional development.”

(3) Stop Meditating – Don’t stop meditating because of negative feelings. If you’re experiencing this, you NEED the meditation. Keep going.

I Can’t Get Focused:

(1) Ignore It – I hear this as an excuse by people that want to simply not meditate. Remember that much of meditation is simply practice. If you go to the gym and you’ve never been there before, you aren’t going to go in and say, “well, my endurance was really low when I got on the treadmill, so I’m not going anymore.” Meditation is an exercise in improving your focus. So just keep going.

(2) Fix It – This is what meditation is all about. If you’re struggling, just be okay with it and gently bring your focus back to the meditation you’re working on.

(3) Stop Meditating – Here again, don’t stop because of lack of focus. Keep going.