18 April 2011

Meditation in four easy steps

The process of learning to meditate can be summarised into four easy steps. Each one flows quite naturally into the next and together they combine to make up the technique we call Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM).  Here are the four steps of MBSM in essentualised form:

    Step 1. Preparation.

In a conducive environment, take up a conducive posture, turn your mind inwardly and relax.

    Step 2. Relaxation.

Use the simplest, most practical technique that helps you to relax your body. Allow your mind to go with it. Let go. Effortlessly.

    Step 3. Mindfulness. 

As a natural sequence you could flow on to use the focussed mindfulness applications of mindfulness of sound, mindfulness of bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts and stillness. Or you could use the more open mindfulness that leads into simple, undistracted awareness – simply notice with bare attention whatever comes to your awareness, whether it be sounds, sensations, emotions, thoughts or stillness; whatever happens, simply being aware, open, and present.

   Step 4. Stillness. 

As you rest in this undistracted awareness you notice the movement – the activity or phenomena that occur within you and around you, and you notice the all-pervading background of stillness. Increasingly the stillness becomes more familiar. You smile as you are warmed by the comfort and easy that flows with this knowing, this experience of the essence of meditation.

Putting MBSM even more simply:

Having prepared well, we relax.

Relaxing more deeply, we become more mindful.

As our mindfulness develops, the stillness naturally reveals itself.

We rest in open, undistracted awareness.

This is Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.

 Meditation – the Direct Approach.

Remember, meditation can be practised using the Direct Approach of no method, or the Gradual Approach that relies upon learning and using techniques. Having summarised the specific technique, the four steps of MBSM above, here is the essence of the direct approach to meditation.

There is nothing to do. Simply be aware. Open. Undistracted. Aware.

It is as simple, and as difficult as that.

Happy meditating!


On a personal note, it was a delight to be back in Brisbane last weekend, presenting workshops at that wonderful place, the Relaxation Centre. After a year of other things, it was a real pleasure to reconnect with Lionel Fifield and all his amazing volunteers, to meet up with people who had been to previous workshops or attended Foundation programs and to meet a whole bunch of new people.

It was also exciting to hold the first copy of the new book and to present a day on "The Mind that Changes Everything". I must say that it does give a great structure to a workshop on how the mind works and how we can use it to best advantage and I look forward to doing it again in other parts of the country. All the advance copies we were sent sold out at the first evening talk which was like the good and the bad news in that there were none available for the later events, but the book will be in the shops or available on line in a few weeks


BOOKS:          The Mind that Changes Everything - Ian Gawler

                         Meditation – an In-depth Guide  - Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson

CD:                  Meditation – a Complete Path – Ian Gawler

DVD:               Meditation Live – Ian Gawler

RELATED BLOGS:  Meditation – How much is enough?

                                      Meditation and Satisfaction

COURSES:       Residential & non-residential: The Gawler Foundation

WORKSHOPS with Ian:   www.iangawler.com


  1. Thank you Ian for sharing this.
    I really enjoy your blog.

  2. Easter Saturday and I am just reading this new blog. It reminds me how helpful the 4 steps have been. Having come across them in Meditation an In-depth Guide about a year ago, they helped to make sense of lots of things I had done before and to put a really useful structure into my meditation. So now, sometimes I spend more time on the relaxation or the mindfulness. Sometimes there is that deeper stillness, but having the 4 steps to follow means every time I do some meditation I feel like it works
    Thanks for the reminder Ian

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