Starting A Meditation Practice

Robert Fettgather
3 min readJan 8, 2024

San Jose State University alumni Robert Fettgather studied psychology, sociology and religion. He lives in Grass Valley, California, and is an associate faculty member at Mission College in Santa Clara. Outside of his career, Robert Fettgather is interested in meditation. A co-founder of the Tashi Lhunpo Buddhist Sangha, Robert Fettgather undertook his initial meditation training at the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) and later at the Berkeley Shambhala Center.

In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, finding moments of calm and clarity becomes increasingly essential. Meditation, a practice rooted in ancient wisdom, offers a pathway to inner peace, stress reduction, and heightened self-awareness. For those new to meditation, embarking on this journey may seem daunting, but with the right approach, establishing a meditation practice can be a rewarding and transformative experience. Perhaps this short essay will provide some inspiration.

Understanding Meditation:

Before delving into the practical aspects of starting a meditation practice, it’s crucial to grasp the essence of meditation itself. At its core, meditation is a practice that encourages mindfulness, allowing individuals to be fully present in the moment. It involves cultivating a heightened awareness of thoughts, sensations, and emotions without judgment.

Steps to Begin a Meditation Practice:

Set Realistic Expectations:
Recognize that meditation is a skill that develops over time. Setting realistic expectations and understanding that the mind may wander during the early stages is crucial. The key is not to eliminate thoughts but to gently guide the focus back to the present moment. Patience with oneself is an effective key to the practice.

Select a Comfortable Space:
Choose a quiet and comfortable space for meditation. It could be a corner in your home, a peaceful garden, or even a quiet park. Creating a designated meditation space helps signal to your mind that it’s time to unwind and focus inward.

Start with Short Sessions:
Beginners often find it beneficial to start with short meditation sessions, gradually increasing the duration as comfort and familiarity grow. Even a five to ten-minute daily practice can yield significant benefits.

Experiment with Different Techniques:
There are various meditation techniques, including mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and guided meditation. Experiment with different methods to discover what resonates best with you. Many apps and online resources offer guided sessions for beginners. Once a preferred practice is found, stick with it!

Focus on the Breath:
A fundamental aspect of many meditation practices involves focusing on the breath. Paying attention to the inhalation and exhalation helps anchor the mind to the present moment. If thoughts arise, gently bring your attention back to the breath.

Consistency is Key:
Establishing a consistent meditation routine is crucial for reaping the benefits. Whether it’s morning or evening, find a time that works for you, and make it a daily habit. Consistency strengthens the neural pathways associated with mindfulness.

Be Kind to Yourself:
Understand that meditation is a journey, not a destination. There will be days when focus is elusive, and the mind is restless. Instead of becoming frustrated, approach each session with kindness and self-compassion.

Final Thoughts:

Commencing a meditation practice is a personal and enriching journey that holds the potential for profound positive changes in one’s life. By setting realistic expectations, creating a conducive environment, starting with short sessions, exploring different techniques, focusing on the breath, maintaining consistency, and being kind to oneself, individuals can unlock the transformative power of meditation. As the practice deepens, the benefits — ranging from reduced stress and increased focus to enhanced well-being — will unfold, making the journey worthwhile and fulfilling.

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Robert Fettgather
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Dr. Robert Fettgather holds a PhD in psychology, master’s degrees in psychology and special education, and a bachelor of arts in psychology.