How to Set Boundaries with Family

By - Family Therapy

how to set boundaries with family

With the holiday time upon us, we are pulled in several directions, from holiday parties, to baking, to having friends and family over, all the while juggling our jobs, kids, and relationships.  So why are the holidays such a stressful time?  

Many of us over commit, overindulge, and over EVERYTHING to make sure that those around us are happy and healthy.  The problem with this approach is that when we do not set limits, we begin to feel overwhelmed, resentful and at times angry.  Setting limits and boundaries is an effective way to manage our emotions and to set realistic expectations for all. 

Here’s how to set boundaries with family during the holiday season.

What are boundaries?  Boundaries are invisible lines that we place around ourselves that communicate to ourselves and others what is Ok with us and what is not OK with us.   Effective boundaries are ever evolving and changing depending on the situation with the core limit being what is appropriate for me and what is not.  Boundaries build TRUST.  Nonexistent, lose or rigid boundaries decrease trust.  Boundaries can come in many forms, including physical, mental, emotional, financial, moral, sexual, and spiritual.  Our parents have taught us about boundaries whether they realized it or not.  For example, if a teenager sees his mother saying “yes” to several commitments despite feeling overwhelmed, she may inadvertently teach the teenager that saying “no” can be seen as rude, unkind, or not caring of others.  On the other hand, another mother who “always says no” to events may be teaching her children that rigid, inflexible boundaries are a better way to set limits.  

I think that Brene’ Brown explains boundaries in a clear and easy to understand how to evaluate a situation and when to apply limits and boundaries…..she calls this BRAVINGBRAVING is described as:

B Boundaries-without boundaries there is no trust; must have appropriate limits

R Reliability-I can only trust you if you consistently do what you say

A Accountability- I can only trust you when you 1) own it 2) apologize for it 3) make amends

V Vault-I will keep what you say in confidence; I will not share other people’s stories

I Integrity- Choose 1) courage over comfort 2) what is right over what is fun, fast, & easy 3) practicing values not just professing values

N Non-judgement- Must be reciprocal and non-judgement towards other and self; cannot judge self for something and not judge others for the same

G Generosity-Assume the most generous words, intentions & behaviors and check in with me

It’s important to learn how to set boundaries with your family during the holidays. So, before you go into the holiday season, ask yourself if saying “yes” to the situation leads to BRAVING or breaking.  Your friends and family will thank you for changing your approach and increasing their trust in what is OK with you and what is not OK with you.  

Does Group Therapy Work?

By - Group Therapy

does group therapy work

Let’s start from the top, what is group therapy? Group therapy is a small group of people with at least one common issue or experience (personal, relational, societal) that gather to share their related thoughts and feelings. With the help of a group leader (therapist) or two, a safe and confidential space is provided where members give each other support, validation, suggestions, and ideas. Groups are either open or closed. Open groups allow members to join at any time, whereas closed groups begin with all their members.

Now that we know what group therapy is, you may be thinking “would group therapy work for me”? Thinking about being vulnerable in front of a group of strangers can be intimidating. Having some concerns and questions about the group is normal.  Group therapy can offer members: a rewarding experience, camaraderie, accountability from members, empowerment, practice in sharing your thoughts/feelings with others, relief from the feelings of being the only one, self-discovery, and alternative points of view. 

Can group really be just as helpful as individual therapy? Most participating members find that group therapy is in fact very helpful due to the interactions with other members that allow you to practice what you are learning both in and out of the group. Expect to get out of it what you put in, the same as you would for individual therapy. Mashinter, 2020 states, “The power of group therapy is in the recognition that the sufferer is not alone. An admission that other people have similar thoughts is one of the first steps to feeling healthy again”. 

As a therapist who has facilitated group therapy before, I can say from experience that I have been able to witness the value that group therapy provides. I have seen members grow, learn, share, support each other and even look for more opportunities for group sessions in the future. Join us for group therapy and see for yourself if group therapy would really work for you. 



American Psychological Association. (2019, October 31). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from 

Kerslake, R. (2021, June 25). Better together? 5 benefits of group therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from 

M counseling and psychological services. University of Michigan Counseling and Psychological Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2022, from 

Mashinter, P. (2020). Is Group Therapy Effective? BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education, 12(2), 33–36. 

How to Take a Mental Health Day

By - Mental Health

how to take a mental health day

A mental health day consists of taking a day off work, school, or daily responsibilities in order to give yourself a mental break. This can include focusing on your mental health, relieving stress, and working towards preventing potential burnout. It has also become clearer over the years that mental health holds as great of importance as physical health. 

It is standard practice in many fields of work to take days off when feeling sick. This gives your body time to rest, heal, and reset. The same should be said for mental health. Research has shown that our mental state can have a direct impact on our physical health. Studies have shown that poor mental health can increase the risk and severity of chronic illnesses, sleeping difficulties, and developing health complications. Studies have also found that having overall positive mental health can decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and various medical conditions. Mental health days are vital because by prioritizing mental health, we are also taking care of our overall well-being

So now that we know why mental health days are so crucial, how do we take one and what should we do during that time? Mental health days can come in all shapes and sizes, fitting the mold of a person’s individual needs. Mental health days can be taken by calling out sick, taking time off work, or planning one in advance for a day you are already free. As previously stated, the overall goal of a mental health day is to decrease stress, process and evaluate your emotions, rest, relax, and reset. Doing so can help give a new perspective and a clearer mind to face the responsibilities that are ahead.

Below are some suggestions on what to do during your mental health day:

  1. Pampering yourself: this can include (but not limited to) getting a massage, going to a spa or salon, taking a relaxing bath/shower.
  2. Going for a run, walk, swim, or drive
  3. Planning a fun activity out of the house, especially one you enjoy doing. This can be done alone or with a friend/loved one. Some examples include going shopping, visiting a museum, going to a park, attending local events, going to the movies, seeing a play, attending a concert, etc. 
  4. Taking time to do hobbies you enjoy doing. This can include video games, crafts, sports, dancing, puzzles, gardening, cooking, reading, watching TV/movies, drawing etc. This is one that is primarily dependent on what you like to do and are passionate about.
  5. Exercising/doing yoga
  6. Setting time to get a good night’s sleep/taking a nap
  7. Eating regularly throughout the day & staying hydrated
  8. Setting and evaluating goals you have for yourself and positive changes you would like to make.
  9. Getting outside and moving around
  10. Journaling
  11. Meditating and practicing mindfulness techniques
  12. Socializing, calling, facetiming, and communicating with friends and loved ones.
  13. Nothing: sometimes what you may need most is to do nothing and give yourself the okay to not do anything. This day does not have to be productive in the traditional sense.

It is important to note that this is not an exclusive list of recommendations, and everyone will have their own idea and ways of having a positive mental health day. If you feel like you are overwhelmed, reaching a level of burnout, or just need time to decompress, take a mental health day. Make it your own and don’t forget to practice self-compassion and kindness!



WebMD Editorial Contributers (n.d.). Mental health: How it affects your physical health. WebMD. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from 

Scott, E. (July 30, 2021). When you should take a mental health day. Very Well Mind. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from

What is Addiction: The Journey

By - Addiction

what is addiction

Addiction needs radical interventions that stop it in its tracks and keeps it from growing. The many forms of addiction touch all our lives at some point in some way or another. Addiction is a process that escalates, lays dormant, or can flare up to a crescendo. The secrecy, stigma, shame, silence, hidden abuse, dysfunction, fear, stress, and so much more have such an impact on self-esteem and one’s concept of self. It can take someone you or someone you love in an instant and change them to be unrecognizable from the inside out.

I’m going to break down some areas of addiction that warrant thought and reflection.

The healing process:

As humans, we thrive on relationships. Each other. People. Love. We were made for it. Addiction harms relationships and cut them at the core; sometimes damaging the roots where there is little chance of, well, “a chance. “

Learning and hearing other people also go through their ordeals provide a vessel of hope and support. With mercy, gratitude, and awareness healing is possible to take place. Whether you are in active addiction, recovery, or the people affected by addiction, it’s not all your fault.

Recovery is likened to seeds that need to be sown. Seeds that need to be cultivated and harvested. We are all the farmers, needing to keep throwing seeds until finally, one will sprout. A harvest will come after a long hard winter. Some springs will be more plentiful with colorful fruits that are ripe for the picking in due time, but each year brings a new winter of hardships, setbacks, and obstacles. It’s how we face each day believing, learning to trust tomorrow will be better, that’s how healing builds.

The long the way:

There will be pitfalls, disappointments, and heartache. Challenges present themselves on this long way and people are far from perfect. The short definition of insanity is repeating the same thing getting the same results. They say relapse is a part of recovery. How does one define a “relapse” is up to the addiction and the identified terms of an individual and/or the family/support system.  Without knowing or acknowledging the truth and building trust the way to recovery and healing will be longer, more complicated, devastating, and harder for all touched by the addiction. Ownership and reflection on yourself are key. If you are the support system of the addict or love someone struggling with addiction, my hope is that your love for them is tough.  If you are the addict in recovery or facing recovery as you read this believe, or try to believe, accountability and the ones holding you accountable are doing so out of their love for you.


Encouraging and denial only influence recovery to take longer. Not seeing or learning the red flags of addiction or the red flags addiction in general causes residual damage.  See some addicts are talented at “bending” the truth. This is why trust and accountability are so important in a long way to healthy living.

Family/Support System:

Addiction is a family disease that affects the entire family and support system. Often children can develop newfound respect as they learn about addiction and even build admiration for their recovering parents/loved ones. Becoming grateful for their parent’s hard work and dedication to recovery. Children are far wiser than we give them credit for. They take in so much and they give more allowance for their family to heal, for their relationship to heal.  Sometimes I think we “grownups” need to take a few cues from the kiddos out there like, sometimes “just say no,” or “I’m sorry,” or even “it hurts.”

Financial Impact and Time Spent:

Addictions are expensive and time-consuming. Addiction steals your time and money and sense of their worth. How you spend your money and time is often a reflection of what you value in life.  Do you value relationships, healing, health, grateful loving hearts, or are you investing in the cancerous addiction?


SO MANY! The litany of types of addictions could go on like the π number. Alcohol, Substances, Sexual, gambling, food, purchasing, health, etc. Indicators of addiction and signs of addiction are often anger, stress, self-doubt and self-esteem manipulation, self-centeredness, immaturity, isolation, defensive, irresponsibility, and unhealthy patterns in relationships/childhood/attachments. Addictions can cause a person to prolong and put off health care causing more health issues throughout life.

Co-occurring Disorders: (Two disorders that tend to make each other worse)

When a person has a disorder that affects their mental health it can cause an inability to cope and people who suffer from the disease of addiction often have co-occurring diagnoses. This can cause the long way to be more complicated and increase swerves along the way. Co-occurring diagnoses complicate what is known as “enabling” and can even be counterproductive and then the addiction escalates. Co-occurring disorders create a much more complex path of treatment or recovery.  Often natural consequences of failing and protecting the addict with a co-occurring disorder can be a hard line to walk and extremely difficult to navigate. No one walks this alone.


Don’t give up. Seek help and support. Addiction touches us all in one way or another. We are here to help. Coping with a loved one’s addiction is hard, so hard. Learning coping skills to process in a healthy way and manage stress from the addiction is essential for those who are facing recovery whether by proxy or themselves. Come in, let us listen, let us sit with you as you tackle the preverbal beast of addiction and its grasp it holds, or at least learn to manage it in a healthy way.  We are here to help and provide hope while you develop strengths to contend with one of the more formidable opponents in life, Addiction.

Does My Teenager Need Counseling?

By - Teen Therapy

does my teenager need counseling

Adolescence is a time when kids are attempting to individuate from their parents.  In short, teens are attempting to spread their wings and leave the nest.  Leaving the proverbial “nest” is age-appropriate, but how do we know if our kids are practicing age-appropriate behaviors. You may find yourself asking, does my teenager need counseling?

Changes in Thoughts and Behaviors:

Normal:  Lots of teens during this stage question why they are here, what is their purpose, why and/if they are loved and would they be missed if they were not around.  Questions about death and dying are normal.  Wishes to “die” are not uncommon during this time however these thoughts become concerning when the teens specific plans.  Talk with your teen to determine if they want to “escape” the situation or do they truly want to hurt themselves.

NOT Normal:  

*Specific plans, intent, or means for self-harm such as cutting and mutilation

*Signs of depression

*Risky behaviors such as drug/alcohol use, illegal activities

*Sexually acting out

*Running away and/or complete disregard for boundaries

*Extreme changes in grades

Changes in Parent Interactions:

Normal Changes: Parents may feel that their kids “don’t want to hang out with us like before” but this is normal in this stage of development and will likely change as they mature.  Teenagers during this stage my shy away from being hugged by parents in public.  Stay connected when you can, and your teens will mature and be more comfortable with parent interactions in time.  

NOT Normal: Teenagers who have intense disdain for parents and/or people of authority.  Kids who start to isolate and refuse to participate in activities that most teens enjoy can be a warning sign that the teen needs counseling.

Sudden Mood Swings:

Normal: Teenage years are a time of dramatic change, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.  Mood swings are a normal part of the process and can be seen as a transition from childhood to adulthood.  Teens are learning to navigate friendships while having to balance other responsibilities such as schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and social media.

NOT Normal: Some teenagers struggle to manage mood swings and while emotions such as sadness, frustration, and anxiety are very common during this time, if these symptoms persist and/or your teen does not have the adequate coping skills to manage these intense feelings, parents should contact a counselor.

Supporting your teen will be very helpful as they navigate this transition, however, if you feel that your teen is struggling outside of the “normal” thoughts and behaviors, it is likely time to seek counseling. 


New Years Resolutions

By - blog

New Year's Resolution

The New Year is a time for resolutions and hopes for a better future. Resolutions are everywhere…online, on tv, all reminding us to lose weight, complete that degree we never finished in order to be a “happier, healthier, more accomplished person. So why year after year we set “New Year Resolutions” when studies show that most of us have given up our resolutions within 6 weeks.

I have a couple of thoughts. One, most of us say or resolutions rather then writing them down. Studies show that just by writing down your resolutions you increase your chance of success by 47%. If this number is true, that means that you can increase your chances of keeping your resolutions until week 22, sixteen more weeks just by writing down your resolution.

Another thought is that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves by just having a “resolution.” What would happen if instead of a resolution we chose to be more MINDFUL? There is a huge difference between a resolution and being mindful of our thoughts and behaviors.

The definition of a resolution is a “firm decision to do or not to do something”. This implies that there is only one way to be successful, you either do the behavior or don’t do the behavior but if you have any behavior that is not completely changed, you have failed according to this definition. Let me say that again, you have failed. No wonder most people give up on their resolutions so quickly. But what would happen if we changed our resolution to mindfulness? The definition of mindfulness is “the quality of state of being conscious or aware of something in the present moment without judgement.” This means that you can still have goals to be happier and healthier BUT if you fall short in your thoughts or behavior, you can still be successful in meeting your goal if you are aware of your choice. More simply put, mindfulness is not an all or nothing proposition.

So, if you want to increase the chances of reaching your goals this year, try thinking using MINDFULNESS and watch your lives change for the better.

Happy New Year!

How to Make Relationship Counseling Work for You and Your Partner

By - blog,Couples Therapy

relationship counseling

We have previously discussed the topic of “does couples counseling work?”  This is a common question therapists receive and is also a great source of fear and apprehension for many couples who want relationship counseling. It shouldn’t be! 

Since we know that relationship counseling can be an extremely helpful tool, let’s shift our focus on how to make couples counseling work for you and your partner. There are many things you can do to make relationship counseling successful, or more likely to be successful, for you and your situation.

One important step in making couples counseling work for you and your partner is don’t wait! Couples, on average, spend six years of being unhappy before reaching out for help and most couples wait too long before seeking counseling. The sooner you begin to tackle the problems, the more likely you are to achieve a positive outcome.  

Steps to take to make couples counseling work for you and your partner:

  1. Have realistic expectations for what you’re looking for in counseling and what you’re hoping to achieve.
  2. Realize conflicts are inevitable. Choose your battles wisely and distinguish between petty issues versus important ones.
  3. Be open minded! Be willing to learn basic skills and become more self-aware, as well as emotionally vulnerable with your partner.
  4. Stop seeing each other as the opponent, but as a team working towards a mutual goal of cooperation and contentment.
  5. Have a desire and the ability to be able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and to feel compassion for your partner’s vulnerable feelings and past emotional traumas. 
  6. Be willing to own your part in the problems, as well as your ability to bring about positive change in the relationship. Couples counseling won’t work unless both individuals are open to change some aspect of their behaviors and interactions. Assume you’re as much a part of the problem as your partner.
  7. Do what your counselor tells you to do! You would not go to the doctor and get a prescription to feel better then not take it, right? Therapy only works if you do the work. 
  8. Keep your problems between the two of you. Complaining to family members, co-workers, and others outside the relationship promotes negative energy in the relationship, encourages a victim mentality, and keeps you locked in negative patterns.
  9. Don’t threaten divorce. This can trigger more defensiveness and stress from your partner.
  10. Don’t look around at your other options. This prevents you from seeing your partner in the same way and only brings the same issues to a new relationship. Nothing gets solved. 
  11. Be sensitive to how scared both you and your partner may be at the prospect of a breakup of the relationship. Relationship breakups are a big deal and a life altering experience.
  12. Keep coming as long as your therapist thinks it’s beneficial.

Relationship counseling has shown to be effective for at least 75% of couples and decreases the number of complaints and distress among partners, and these results remain consistent for at least two years after the conclusion of treatment. Partners can learn to identify toxic patterns of behavior and communication, they can explore problems from a different perspective and learn ways to resolve conflicts more effectively. Couples counseling can also improve the overall quality of interactions and increase intimacy among couples. 

Remember, counseling is a preventative process. It only works if you keep practicing what you’re taught and what you have learned from the experience. Most importantly, make sure you find a therapist that both you and your partner feel comfortable with. Connection with a counselor that both of you feel is fair, equitable, and listens to both of you is key to a successful couples counseling experience. We are here to help you and your partner and we are happy to help both of you have the best relationship possible. 



Brooke, M. (2016, November 04). 10 Things You MUST Do for Marriage Counseling to Work. Retrieved October 02, 2020, from

Gaspard, T. (2018, April 03). Timing Is Everything When It Comes To Marriage Counseling. Retrieved October 02, 2020, from

Grande, D. (2017, December 06). Couples Therapy: Does It Really Work? Retrieved October 02, 2020, from


Does Therapy Work?

By - blog

does therapy work

Statistics show that most people will develop or experience mental health symptoms or a mental health emergency at least once in their lifetime. What if I told you that the chances of someone experiencing a mental illness are higher than developing a serious health condition including but not limited to heart disease, diabetes or any type of cancer. Most people are more willing to take care of their physical health than their own mental health. 

Many cultures negatively stigmatize mental health symptoms/illness and believe that it is nonexistent. What would happen if we took this same approach to physical illness’ such as high blood pressure or the flu? We would have ill people going to work, grocery shopping, caring for our children, leading our countries and making big decisions all while they are physically ill. According to the National Institute of Mental Health only half of people with mental illnesses receive treatment.  This means that the other half are trying to function normally when they are unable to do so.

Most Common Mental Health Conditions

According to the World Health Organization, the two most common mental health conditions are depression and anxiety. 

Research shows that depression affects over 350 million people worldwide. Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to:

  • A two-week period of feeling consistently sad 
  • Experiencing loss of interest 
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in energy level 
  • Changes in concentration

Anxiety affects over 284 million people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, China, India and the U.S. are the countries most affected by anxiety. These countries also have the highest levels of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Symptoms of anxiety consist of, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • An increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Trouble sleeping

Anxiety can interfere in day to day life and can be extremely difficult to control without proper mental health treatment. 

The Research on Psychotherapy

So, the question becomes does therapy work? Can therapy address mental health conditions? According to the American Psychological Association, research indicates that psychotherapy has been found to be very effective in treating mental and behavioral health issues for a wide range of individuals and mental health diagnosis. 

Psychotherapy has been found to be more effective than medical treatments that are used to address mental health issues. Psychotherapy has been shown to:

  • Decrease psychiatric hospitalizations 
  • Improve overall functioning at work 
  • Teaching client’s skills that last once they are no longer in treatment. 

Combining psychotherapy and medication has been shown to be more effective than just medication by itself. Results of psychotherapy are known to have a longer result than using medication, which at times can have harmful side effects. 

Please remember that a therapist is not there “to fix you”. A therapist is there to help you develop insight into your thoughts, worries, problems, and mental health condition. If you find yourself wondering does therapy work and you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, please contact us at Olney Counseling Center at (301) 570-7500 to begin working with one of our qualified mental health therapists.

How to Support Someone Struggling with Depression

By - blog

Just as it is hard to be an individual struggling with the heaviness of depression, it is often hard to know how to support someone struggling with depression. As a therapist, I work with adolescents and adults struggling with depression, which can be long term (often called Dysthymia), or shorter-term (often called Major Depressive Disorder). Depression can flare up due to biological factors, social factors, and psychological factors, often leading to extreme sadness and/or hopelessness, loss of interest in usual hobbies or activities, and negative thoughts about themselves, others, or the world.

 Here are my 5 most recommended tips to help someone struggling with depression.

  1. Validate and make sure they are safe- Acknowledge that you recognize they are struggling and let them know that you want them to be safe. Simply say, “I care about you and want to ensure that you are feeling safe right now, both to yourself and others?” If they express imminent concerns for the safety of themselves or others, help them to get emergency intervention – contact your local crisis center, call 911, or get them to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  1. Be Present- Although it is difficult to do sometimes, put away all the distractions, including technology, and truly be present with the person who is struggling with depression. Ask “How can I support you?”. Sometimes they may just need you to listen, sometimes they may need physical touch, or sometimes they may just want you to sit and “be” with them, even if it is in silence. Letting the person know, “I want to be present with you during this difficult time. How can I support you?” can go a very long way and show this person the love and care that they likely need.
  1. Be an engaged listener- If the person you are supporting does want to talk about their experience, be an active listener. Although you may not be able to help them through their issue, listening and being compassionate can make a world of difference. As renowned author Lori Gottlieb states, “People start to heal the moment they feel heard”. You do not need to solve their problem, just be there to listen.
  1. Encourage them to receive professional help- People struggling with short- or long-term depression can often benefit from seeking professional support with a trained psychotherapist and/or medication prescriber (Psychiatrist, PNP, Primary Care). Some of the symptoms of depression may hold a person back from being motivated and following through with seeking help.

If they already have a therapist or other mental health professional, encourage them to reach out to schedule an appointment.  Let them know that although you are here to listen, a trained and licensed professional is better equipped to help with effective and evidence-based therapeutic techniques.    

If they do not already have a therapist or mental health professional, encourage them to sit with you and find someone who may be a good fit for them. I often recommend the website, which allows you to filter out clinicians based on insurance, location, specialty, etc. and learn a bit about them. Sending the first email or making the first call is often the hardest part, especially for someone who is actively struggling.

  1. Participate in an activity together- When feeling depressed, it is common to “shut down” and want to lay low. Find a common interest or activity you can do together and encourage the person to do that with you. Oftentimes, even taking a short walk can help to release endorphins leading to increased Serotonin, which helps us to feel content and happy. There are many other activities you can do together that are just as helpful! 

If you know someone who is struggling with depression, contact Olney Counseling today.  

How To Meditate

By - blog

Meditation can be a “lifesaver” during COVID-19 and any other stressful times in your life. Meditation is a simple practice that is available to all, can reduce stress, increase calmness, improve clarity and promote happiness. We will examine how to meditate, quickly identify ways to meditate and get you started on a path towards greater acceptance and joy.  Take a deep breath and get ready to relax………

The Basics

As you learn how to meditate, the Breath Meditation is the easiest and most straightforward of the meditation practices and can be done in all settings.  Find a quiet and comfortable place to do your mediation practice.  When first starting the breath meditation, try practicing these strategies for 5 minutes.

  1. Sit – You can sit cross legged on a cushion or in a straight-back chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Posture – Place your hands palms up in a “open hand” position with your eyes open, letting your gaze rest comfortably about six feet in front of you.  If this is not comfortable, close your eyes softly and imagine you are looking at something calm and serene.
  3. Breath – Notice and follow your breath.  Pay attention to your inhales and exhales while remaining relaxed in your sitting posture position.  With each breath, imagine the air going through your mouth and nose.  Your environment will start to dissolve around you as you concentrate on your breathing.  Some people like to count as the breath in…one, two, three in…one, two, three out.  Try to remember to keep your body relaxed as you focus on your breath.
  4. Thoughts – Notice thoughts and feelings that arise.  When we notice a thought or feeling, we are moving our attention away from the breath and/or meditation.  Try to refocus your thoughts on your breath by saying “breath” and counting as you inhale and exhale.  It is normal for our minds to wander, especially during the initial stages of our mediation practice.  Remember to be kind to yourself, do not judge your ability and refocus on your breath and posture.
  5. Body Scan – This is an optional meditation step, but several people find the body scan to be helpful.  To initiate the body scan, make sure your breath is calm.  Once your breath is steady, start by focusing on the top of your head, slowing and deliberately moving down each inch of your body until you reach your feet.  Focus on each muscle group, attempting to release any tension in that body part.  The body scan will help you relax and assist in being “present” during the meditation.  
  6. Close with Kindness – Once your allotted time for meditation has ended, slowly bring your focus back to the room, open your eyes if you have closed them and notice the calm, peaceful feeling you are experiencing. 

As you learn how to meditate, some people struggle with the breath meditation and body scans.  For those people a guided meditation can be another great way to begin your meditation practice.  Listening to an experienced teacher can help us to remain present, let go of distracting thoughts and be kind to ourselves.

Below are some links for guided meditation from UCLA:

Guided Meditations:
Breathing Meditation (5 mins) Play Transcript
Breath, Sound, Body Meditation (12 mins) Play Transcript
Complete Meditation Instructions (19 mins) Play Transcript
Meditation for Working with Difficulties (7 mins) Play Transcript
Loving Kindness Meditation (9 mins) Play Transcript
Body and Sound Meditation (3 mins) Play Transcript
Body Scan Meditation (3 mins) Play Transcript
Body Scan for Sleep (13 mins) Play Transcript