Step-by-Step Guidelines for Successful Meditation
Michael Olpin, Ph.D. CHES


How to Meditate using a mantra

The most important thing is don't try too hard. Don't make a big deal out of this. It is the easiest thing that our mind can do ... perhaps that is why it is so powerful.

1)    Find a quiet environment. It is best to be where you won't be disturbed. 

2)    Sit comfortably in a comfortable chair (donít lie down) with the eyes closed. Try to be in a place with a minimum amount of noise and light. But don't be concerned with noises. They are not a distraction to meditation (I have meditated in airports, in the car, in boring classes or meetings, and large list of other places. The important thing is to do the process as I describe below.).

3)    Begin by sitting in your chair for about 30 seconds of sitting with the eyes closed and just get yourself in tune with your internal environment (do a quick body scan). Next, begin, as effortlessly and silently as possible repeating a word to yourself (not out loud). The word you choose is called a mantra.

a.    Examples of words (mantras) to use: still, one, relax, peace, empty, calm, serene, silent, tranquil, spaghetti, or any other word or phrase that is easy to remember (it makes no difference what word you use. It only matters that you proceed with the simple intention of repeating the word, over and over and over.).

b.    Simply repeat silently the mantra over and over to yourself.

c.    Just let your mind whisper your mantra under your thoughts, over and over and over. Don't try to change your thoughts in any way. Just allow yourself to keep whispering the word silently to yourself.

d.  If you have a mind, you can practice mantra meditation

4)    When you notice your mind wandering (it will) just notice it and gently bring your attention back to your breathing and your mantra. Don't think that you are a bad meditator if you don't remain with your word the entire time or even part of the time. The important thing is to gently return to the word when you catch your mind wandering ... or falling asleep.

5)    Practice for approximately 10-20 minutes every day (or at least 3-4 times per week).   The best times to practice meditation are first thing in the morning and in the afternoon between 4 and 6 o'clock. To enhance your experience, try a little yoga just before meditating. A few sun salutes usually does the trick.

6)   Don't think that this has to be any more difficult than it is explained here. There is nothing else to do besides silently repeat your mantra. Don't try to make anything happen. Just be present with your mantra. That's all! You only have one intention while you meditate: Return to your mantra when it occurs to you to do so. There is no other effort involved whatsoever.

6)    Donít set an alarm clock but sit with a clock in view if necessary. It is okay to briefly open your eyes to check the time, then close them back and return to the mantra.

7)    Slowly return to normal waking consciousness. Take at least 2 minutes to return. Don't be in a hurry or you will feel the same way you feel when an alarm clock or telephone awakens you out of a dream.

Several things might happen while you are meditating and each is entirely appropriate.


You might easily repeat the mantra for the entire period that you are meditating. This is fine, but is not necessarily the goal. The goal is that you intend to repeat the word. Whether or not that happens is secondary.


You might fall asleep. If you do, great. Enjoy it! You will probably have one of the deepest sleeps you have had in a while. Falling asleep while meditating is usually an indication that you need more sleep. You are giving yourself a perfect opportunity to catch up. When you do awaken from sleeping while meditating, be sure to spend a few more minutes going back to the mantra. Otherwise it will feel similar to the way that you feel when you are dreaming and you are abruptly awakened to a phone ringing or some other very jarring sound.


Another thing that will happen is your mind will fly all over the place with thoughts. Don't be dismayed when this happens. Simply gently return to repeating the mantra. If the thoughts continue ceaselessly, simply intend to slip the mantra gently underneath the thoughts.


Occasionally, but not very often, your mind will become very still. In that stillness, ideas, insights, perhaps we could call it inspiration or intuition will flood into your mind. Be sure to have a pen and paper ready to write down the interesting thoughts that come to you. Out of that silence sometimes comes exactly what we need to know or do as we progress on our path.

Remember, the quality of a good meditation is not what happens during the meditation. The important issue is how you feel after meditating. If you have more energy, more alertness, if your mind is calmer, more peaceful and you feel happier, this is feedback that your mind/body like the meditation.

If you are in the regular stress management class (not the online class) click here to go to the assignment page that corresponds with mantra meditation The online class goes back to the lesson 13 page to complete this assignment.