The One-Minute Meditation Tutorial (Step-By-Step Instructions)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When I wanted to learn how to meditate, I took to the internet. There, I encountered a myriad of articles and videos that spoke more about the benefits of meditation than the practice of doing such. This piece is my attempt to deliver a concise tutorial on how to get started meditating today — no apps, no books, no expensive lessons required.

I’ll break this into two parts — firstly, the barebones essential instructions in eight easy-to-follow steps, and secondly, my own recommendations regarding those eight steps. These steps should take one minute to read. Start your timers…now. 

  1. Find a timer without an annoying end buzzer. 
  2. Find a comfortable seat where you can maintain good posture. 
  3. Place your feet, legs, arms, and hands in a position where they will remain comfortable for 10 or so minutes. 
  4. Start the timer for the duration you would like to meditate. 
  5. Close your eyes. 
  6. Bring your full focus to your breath as you inhale and exhale from your nostrils. 
  7. Do not change your breathing, but simply focus on the inhale and exhale of your body’s natural patterns. 
  8. When you attempt to focus solely on your breath, your thoughts will mutiny. Your mind will try it’s hardest to wander and daydream. This is fine, but when you first notice that you are daydreaming or thinking about anything besides your breathing, make a mental note — “that’s a thought” or “I’m drifting” — and return your focus to your breath. 

That’s it. With these steps, you should be able to start meditating.

Additional Tips for Each Step

  1. Don’t feel that your timer has to be an expensive meditation application. It should simply be anything that won’t startle you from a focused, relaxed state. I personally like the timer in an application called “Strive Minutes” (no paid endorsement), though there are many free options that provide a similar experience. The soft gong sounds don’t startle me out of a meditative state. You can also track your meditation sessions with this application to help make meditation a regular habit.
  2. I prefer sitting with my back not touching a seat. I used to sit cross-legged on the floor just to keep my cat from jumping into my lap and startling me (that happened a few times). Now, I like meditating while sitting on my solid-wood bench-like coffee table. While you could realistically meditate while lying down, I find that sitting with good posture helps with focus. Lying down or sitting on a couch may just put you to sleep. 
  3. The position of your arms can vary, but they should be situated in a way where they won’t be on your mind. If your hands are touching, they can become clammy and distracting. If your legs are crossed, they could fall asleep and tingle. If sitting on a bench or seat, I prefer keeping my legs uncrossed, shoulder-width apart, with my feet flat on the floor. I position arms with my forearms resting on my lap without leaning on them. 
  4. The duration of time depends on your preference, but keep in mind that any amount of time counts. I personally meditate for 10 minutes every day, but even a single minute is a good start. Start small and increase your sessions as you feel necessary. 
  5. Some like to use eye masks, but I find them to be yet another distraction. They can also mess with my circadian rhythms (tricking my brain into believing its night)  and leave me feeling drowsy. 
  6. Internalize the coolness of the air entering your nostrils on the inhale. Actively feel the warmth of the air exiting on the exhale. I try to feel the icy freshness of the air and imagine it nearly leaving my nose hairs as icicles — like I’m taking a deep nasal breath while chewing icy-mint gum on a blustery winter’s day. In reverse, I like to imagine the warm exhale as luxurious, like a warm shower on a chilling morning — the feeling of breathing air in a sauna. Instead of “in, out, in, out”, I think “cool, warm, cool, warm…” 
  7. It’s ok to take deeper inhales and release longer exhales in order to intensify your focus on the “cool, warm, cool, warm…”, but that can leave you lightheaded if you do so too much. That’s why I recommend just focusing on the cool and warmth as they occur naturally.  **Later added recommendation: One technique I’ve found beneficial for remaining focus on the breath is by understanding that the air of every breath is going to feel slightly different in your nose, mouth, throat, etc. Really try to feel the differences in every breath - whether one is cooler, sharper, if it flutters, etc.
  8. Don’t be upset with yourself for your mind wandering. This will happen for absolutely everyone, just like distractions in real life will always occur. What you want to work on is shortening the time it takes for you to realize that you’ve drifted away. Once you’re aware of your drift, acknowledge the drift, and return to the “cool, warm, cool, warm…” of your breathing. 

duck with eyes closed

What is Happening? 

This particular style of Mindfulness Meditation is like weight-training for your attention span. When you lift weights with your body, your muscles are competing against the gravitation pull of the earth. When you’re practicing Mindfulness Meditation, your focus of the moment is competing against the gravitational pull of your thoughts. This style of Mindfulness Meditation aims to train your brain not necessary on the length of pure focus, but rather to be able to return focus in less time and with less effort. 

What is the Sign of a Successful Meditation Session? 

Mindfulness Meditation is not like walking an ice-covered tight rope — where making it to the other side without falling is impossible. It is more like practicing tight rope walking while people are aggressively shaking the guide wires — something some tight roper walkers practice to prepare them to walk in a tight rope under poor conditions. In the same way, Mindfulness Meditation is training your attention span to regroup more quickly and efficiently with every aggressive tug at your mental guide wires. 

Will you ever be able to make it through a meditation session without ever falling off of “cool, warm, cool, warm…” train? Probably not. You will likely always drift. However, your success criteria should not be how many times you drift, but how times you notice that you are drifting. Even drifting every two seconds and course-correcting every time for 10 minutes would be a more productive meditation session than one 10-minute drift that ends with your timer. 

meditating child with eyes closed and red coat in the woods

Bonus: 

The following is an example of what my internal dialogue sounds like during an average meditation session: 

Cool…warm….ice cool…sauna warm….can’t wait to get in the shower. Man, that workout left me a sweaty mess…Oops, I’m drifting. Cool…warm…cool….warm….cool…is my cat rubbing against my leg? I’m drifting. Cool…warm…cool…warm…I hear my cat-err-I’m drifting. Cool….warm…cool…warm…cool….warm…cool…warm…cool…warm…cool….wow, I’ve gone a long time without drifting. Wait, crap, that was a drift, too. Cool….warm…cool…warm….cool….is that timer still running? This feels like way more than 10 minutes. Driting again. Cool….warm…cool…warm…Hey, remember to relax your face — you’re all tense. Drifting. Cool…warm…cool…

This piece is largely based on wisdom I learned from reading Dan Harris’ book Meditation For Fidgety Skeptics.


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“Jump, Fatboy, Jump”: A “Skinny Fat” Man’s Jump Rope Rediscovery

Reading Time: 7 minutes

10-min read or listen

Drowning On Dry Ground

It had been one of the first times I had heard actual wheezing come from my throat. The feeling of drowning on dry ground wasn’t so much disturbing as it was the assurance that I was doing something right. As soon as I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but chuckle about hitting a wall that day in my driveway.

No More “Skinny Kenny”

In my late twenties, I first noticed that I was no longer a candidate for the nickname of my teens: Skinny Kenny. Despite having this nickname, I hadn’t paid any mind to exercise or a healthy diet aside from eating kosher (definitely not synonymous). Beer and other carbohydrates were close friends. My body had become a shape that I’d later hear fitness personalities refer to as “skinny fat” — the illusion of skinniness…until take off your shirt. Still, it didn’t quite come to a head until Passover 2019. 

After a delightful Passover, I noticed a tagged photo of me from before the seder. In the picture, I’m holding my then-ten-month-old son. Just below my adorable son was the most substantial belly I’d ever seen on my frame. My button-down shirt was divided toward the bottom, revealing my undershirt. Wow, ok. For the first time, I realized that I was pushing the bounds of a weight limit I didn’t know existed in my mind. It was the sign I needed — an indication that I needed to “clean it up.”

Inspired by…Meditation?

As the month progressed, my weight continued to ride in the backseat. Instead, I began to realize how much I was squandering all of my free time. While parenthood didn’t allow for oodles of unbridled hours of self-paced leisurely delight, my free evenings and early mornings were engulfed in utter useless nonsense — social media, YouTube clips, and anything else that illuminated my stupid face. 

Recognizing this, I quickly consumed heaping piles of content related to living a controlled, minimalist lifestyle and forming better habits. The first big push in this direction was a reading of Atomic Habits by James Clear

In the process of taking control of my life and my attention span, I wanted to develop a habit of daily meditation. While I never found a single YouTube meditation tutorial that made it click for me (that would require reading Meditation For Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris), I stumbled upon a video that outlined some of the benefits of meditation. In the video, a fella probably a decade my junior discussed how he especially liked to meditate following a jump rope workout. 

Wait, jumping rope? People actually do that as exercise? 

Even though the video only mentioned the terms “jump rope” and “jumping rope” maybe as many times as I just did, something clicked for me on a level unrelated to meditation. Jumping rope fit the middle of the Venn diagram of “something good for your body” as well as “something fun to do.”  

venn diagram of fun vs health

In my elementary school days in the ’90s, The American Heart Association was on a veritable crusade in gym classes to get kids jumping rope. Being naturally skinny with decent rhythm, I took to jumping rope pretty quickly. After a few months, I was pretty darn good at it — even one of the only kids in my school able to perform double-unders (two rotations under a single jump). Soon, elementary school was over, and any interest in jump rope was replaced by garage jam sessions, skateboarding, and, ahem, girls. Somehow, five seconds of jump roping in this YouTube video seemed to bring me right back to jump roping in my school gym.

Before that YouTube clip had finished, I was already scoping out jump ropes on Amazon. About $10 and a few days later, my first jump rope in over 25 years arrived. I was ready to get started.

“That’s a Keeper”

Figuring that an interest in a particular exercise was the beginning of something monumental, I stepped into the bathroom. Awkwardly clutching my phone, I snapped a quick shirtless “before” image in the mirror. If the aim of a “before” picture is to incite disgust, mission accomplished. I scarcely recognized the pasty ogre reluctantly looking back at me from my phone screen. While the image is quite educational, that one stays hidden until the paparazzi hack my Google Drive. 

Donning swim trunks, recreational sneakers, and t-shirt, I stepped onto my driveway — jump rope in tow. Once I found a place where I was sure not to smack any of the wires connecting my house and that of my neighbors, I began to jump. 

And then stopped. Whoa, is there someone sitting on my shoulders or something? They made it look so easy on the videos. 

Well, I wasn’t that bad. I could jump for a good 15 seconds before my legs would burn and I’d gasp, struggling to throw air down my stupid throat fast enough. Despite being May, the air felt like spring. Still, it wasn’t long before I was utterly drenched in sweat, panting like an idiot who just tried to outrun a car. I’d never felt like such a winded mound of dough.

Blame it on the Gear

Another problem I was experiencing was my rope getting caught on the tread of my shoes. 

“Oh, I just need a longer rope.” 

I got a longer jump rope, which still got stuck. 

“Oh, I just need different shoes.” 

I got different shoes, which still caught the rope. 

I also got a foam-rubber mat to jump on. 

Still, stuck. 

Oh, my technique is garbage, you say? Ah, why didn’t you say so? 

That lesson cost about $106.

Coming Together

  • After the first week, my calves quit burning all of the time and I could walk normally. 
  • A few weeks later, I started jumping for five minutes, each minute spaced out by a minute of rest. 
  • A few weeks after that, I decided to up it to 10 minutes of jumping, each minute spaced out by a minute. 
  • A few weeks after that, I started ending sessions with 2 divided minutes with a weighted rope. 
  • A few weeks after that, I began my jump rope sessions with 2-minutes of continuous jumping.

Boxer Skip = Cool Points

Around this time, I finally started to learn the “boxer skip” — a move where you casually shift weight from leg to leg. You may recognize this move from the background of any boxing gym scene in a movie…or, you know, an actual boxing gym. While it looks like more work, when performed correctly, the boxer skip is a lifesaver for stamina — giving each leg a split-second micro-break as you go. It also makes you look like you kind of know what you’re doing. 

Here’s a link to my own boxer skip tutorial.

boxer skip

“Well, that’s a first.”

As more pieces started to fall into place, something bizarre started to happen — I began to look forward to evening jump rope sessions. What had started as the dry-land-drowning sprees had become “Let’s see what I can do” time. During the day, I would catch myself occasionally daydreaming about jumping rope. When I didn’t think anyone was watching in the bathroom or waiting for the microwave at work, I’d practice ropeless heel taps, boxer skips, and seeing how long I could hop on one foot (obviously, not while I was using the bathroom). Starting to see results on the scale and in the mirror only intensified my anticipation of evening jump rope sessions. 230 pounds became 225, 220, 215, 210, and then 205 pounds. My wife also said that my core seemed less flabby and my “man boobs” seemed less evident. Hey, how much more empowered can you get?

It’s a Big Deal…For Me

This may seem pretty bland to many of you, but the concept of craving exercise is entirely new to me. While I’ve enjoyed physical activities whose side effect is exercise, craving the exercise itself is not a feeling I can recall having in my over 30  years of life. Looking forward to out-jumping the shadow in my driveway is something I’m still getting used to. 

I also feel tremendously grateful to have discovered that one of my favorite exercises is one of the best ones in existence. Seriously, check out the health benefits of jumping rope. 

More than anything, jumping rope fits my personality.

  • Introverted: I can do it by myself, whenever I want, wherever I want — provided there aren’t any ceiling fans, low-hanging light fixtures, or people I could accidentally sweat on. 
  • Challenge-seeking: More than another hampster wheel, it’s a skill I can continuously work to master. I find myself taking notes after almost every session. 
  • Cheapskate: It’s ridiculously cheap. There’s no required gym membership. Seriously, for the cost of some cheap sneakers and a $3 rope, you can be making puddles of sweat today. 
  • Sustainable: I can keep doing it into old age…provided I keep doing it now.

In James Clear’s Atomic Habits, one of the methods of forming a good habit is casting votes towards an identity you want to have based on what you do.

I think I’m finally to the point of being able to say, “I’m a jump roper.” 

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. – Epictetus


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Meditation While Standing on One Foot (It’s Not What It Sounds Like)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In Judaism, there is a very famous story from the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) that I will paraphrase:

Just around the first century BCE, there were two tremendous Jewish scholars and teachers in Jerusalem. One was named Hillel and the other Shammai. Despite both being scholars and teachers of note, they often had their disagreements about how to interpret the Torah — the foundational text of Judaism.

One day, a non-Jewish man approached each of these sages with the same challenge: that he would accept Judaism and convert to the faith if a rabbi could teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot.

First, he went to Shammai. Shammai definitely wasn’t having this —what he interpreted as tomfoolery. He actually pushed the man away with a ruler and told him to hit the bricks.

Undeterred, the man the approached Hillel. Hillel accepted the man’s request and converted the man, saying:  

“That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation. Go study.”

shammai vs himmel

I’m a big fan of this story’s lesson of the occasional benefit of summarizing headier subjects for the sake of consumption and use. There are a few other subjects that I feel are somewhat needlessly mystified and in need of the Hillel treatment. One of the biggest ones I’ve found in this regard is the practice of meditation.

I have recently started a routine of morning meditation in an effort to strengthen my attention span and focus. As I sought out information about how to start meditating, I encountered many Shammais. I felt lost in the flowery language about consciousness, chakras, esoteric explanations of its benefits, and guided meditations that distracted me more than they guided me. The very practical and non-spiritual benefits of meditation have been frequently hijacked by pseudo-heady wannabe-gurus in beads, draped in linen attire from their ponytail to their Birkenstocks. The ordinary person typically feels that they must attain some higher enlightened state or at least endure hippie spirituality in order to reap the benefits of a meditative process. Meditation advocate Dan Harris summarized this issue in his book Meditation For Fidgety Skeptics by saying that, “meditation has been the victim of the worst marketing campaign for anything ever.”

It’s with this attitude that I feel that meditation is in need of the Hillel treatment. While I’m no expert on meditation, I’ve experienced some of the benefits armed solely with a tremendously basic understanding of the process.

Here is my attempt at explaining meditation on one foot:

Focus on something consistent — such as the sensation of your breath entering and exiting your nostrils. Cool in, warm out. Once you notice yourself being distracted by a thought, return your focus back to the sensation of your breath entering and exiting your nostrils. Rinse and repeat.

I understand that this is almost laughably basic. Despite this, it is really all of the information I needed to begin meditating on a consistent basis. I started doing this for five minutes a day. I’ve recently increased it to ten minutes every morning. Even with this limited time and very basic approach, I’ve perceived a considerable reduction in the time it takes me to realize I’m being distracted and course-correcting my mind.

And in case you’re wondering, I did test whether or not I could deliver my instructions for meditation on one foot. The answer?

Yep, and I felt like an idiot. Happy meditating.


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