Try a free 10-minute meditation
If you’re looking for a guided 10-minute meditation that will cultivate focus, compassion, and a more relaxed mind and body, this one below is a great place to start. Andy Puddicombe, Headspace co-founder and mindfulness and meditation expert leads us through a basic guided meditation.
When it ends check in on how you are feeling. If you’re feeling calmer, that’s great! If not, that’s perfectly normal, too. One of the things about meditation is to go into it with no expectations beforehand, and no self-judgment afterward. If you show up consistently and develop a regular practice, you will develop a stable awareness over time.
For many of us, finding the time ten minutes of meditation seems like an impossible feat given our busy schedules and pressing responsibilities — until we remember that our mind is our most valuable resource. After all, consider how much time we spend taking care of our appearance, our possessions, our physical health. Shouldn’t our mind — through which we filter every aspect and experience of our existence — receive equal if not more care and attention?
One way to look after our minds and our mental well-being is through mindfulness — the skill of being present and fully engaged with whatever we are doing in any given moment, not beholden to reactive thoughts and feelings, particularly when faced with challenging situations. The best way to learn mindfulness is by meditating, spending 10 minutes each day to develop the ability to be present and to better understand how we think and feel. With practice, and by sitting consistently with the mind, we learn to bring that awareness to our everyday lives.
Of course, 10 minutes isn’t mandatory to experience the benefits of meditation. It’s simply a chunk of time that’s reasonable for most people to set aside each day. If for you, a reasonable chunk is one minute, five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes, or 20 minutes a day, that’s fine. Start with an amount of time that feels right and adjust from there. What’s more important than duration is frequency — meaning, that meditating for 10 minutes a day, seven days a week, is more beneficial than 70 minutes one day a week.
A 10-Minute Meditation for Focusing the Mind
The moment of noticing a thought is a very powerful moment. It’s really where the real meditation occurs. That’s because there’s a spark of insight at that point, what in technical terms is called meta-awareness: you’re aware of your thought process, not just caught up in it. Now at that moment, there’s lots of possibility.
You can touch that thought and gently bounce back to attention on the breath and your body. But you might also say “Oh damn, there I go thinking again, I just can’t get away from this thinking and do this meditation.” We call that “entertaining the messenger.” When the messenger comes to the door and says “Hello, here’s the message,” instead of just taking the message—in this case, a cue to bounce back to the breath—we decide to get into a whole argument and keep the messenger around for a while.
Rather than entertaining the messenger or fighting with the messenger, it’s nice if we can just take the message. Thought—breath. And one of the wonderful things about meditation—many people have said this, and Dan Harris for one revels in it—is the fact that it allows for such a monumental amount of failure. Failure is just fine. So, if you’re sitting meditation for 15 minutes and you don’t notice your thought until the bell rings at the end, that’s what that session was about. You learn from it. There will be another one. No big deal.
If you’re trying to get really good at this, and be especially good, especially strict, it’s like pushing on a string. As Frank Ostaseski likes to say, it’s about allowing. Being. Yielding. Letting yourself be there—not trying to make yourself meditate.
This simple guided meditation explores how we can gently guide the mind back to the breath when it wanders toward thoughts and sensations.
Having heard the gong, now settle into your seat, whether it’s on a cushion on the floor, or in a chair, or whatever kind of seat you have: bench, park bench, whatever it is. First, feel your bottom on the seat, and your feet on the floor or the ground, flat, touching the earth. Your eyes can be open or closed, head tilted slightly down—this conveys just a slight feeling of humbleness. Your torso is erect—straight but not stiff. Your shoulders are relaxed, your hands are resting on your thighs and your upper arms are parallel to your torso. Just take a moment to feel that posture.
Now we’re going to use the breath as an anchor for our attention. We could choose any number of sensations as an anchor for our attention, but breath is convenient because it’s regular and if you’re alive, you’re breathing. We don’t concern ourselves with trying to adjust the rate of the breath, we just come with whatever breath we have.
A good place to start is to take three conscious breaths. For three breaths, let’s be completely aware of the breath as it goes out and comes in, goes out, and comes in, goes out, and comes in.
So now we’re in the room, so to speak. We’re feeling ourselves, seated. We’ve connected with our breath. So now, let’s just keep following the breath as it goes out and in.
If you like, you can use paying attention to the abdomen or your belly, rising and falling. You can pay attention as the breath comes in and out of your nostrils. Or you can simply pay attention to the whole process of breathing in and out.
One of the first things we notice naturally as we try to pay attention to breath coming in and out is our mind is filled with thoughts. It’s like a waterfall of thoughts. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts—thoughts of all kinds. Sensations. Abstract thoughts. Emotions. Whatever they are, they’re all thoughts, and in mindfulness practice, just notice the thought. Touch it, and go back to the breath. Just a light touch on the thought. It’s almost as if, as you touch the thought, you can bounce off it and back to the breath.
It is that noticing of the thought that is a moment of direct mindfulness. You notice the thought and lightly come back to the breath.
It is that noticing of the thought that is a moment of direct mindfulness. You notice the thought lightly and come back to the breath.
The point of the whole enterprise is not to become an Olympic breath follower— Mindfulness meditation is a lot about familiarity. You’re just spending time with your mind in the simplest possible way, with no project.
We have tremendous perceptive awareness that can capture in an instant what’s going on in our minds. In this case, just noticing without getting caught up particularly. If it’s an emotion—perhaps we’re enraged with someone, they’ve done something very nasty, and it’s not easy to forget, and it comes up, and we ride that train for a while. Maybe as soon as the bell rings, we’re on that rage train and we ride it until the bell comes to end the session. Oh, wow. Whole time on that one thing. Well, it really wasn’t one thing. It was a series of thoughts surrounding the rage. It’s OK.
If something keeps coming up, notice, and then come back to the breath. When we do this repeatedly, this process of touching the thought, there’s a distinct possibility that the thoughts will not grip us as much, that we’ll have more space to choose how we act in response to what’s going on around us and in our mind. This is how the benefits of mindfulness come about. They don’t come about from striving to get benefit: Relax, relax, relax, relax! They come about from following this very simple process. It’s like in Karate Kid: wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off. Eventually, there’s some benefit there—a certain kind of strength emerges.
As you hear the concluding bell, no matter what’s been going on in the session, you don’t need to evaluate it, just let it go. As you’re hearing the reverberation, open your eyes, and enjoy what’s coming next.