Meditation basically means concentration. Most of us have monkey minds and in meditation we aim to still the mind by focussing it on an object. We can use any of our senses to focus with e.g. when using the eyes we can concentrate on a beautiful picture; using the nose we concentrate on a soothing perfume; using the ears we concentrate on inspiring music. In meditation there is no goal. When meditating we work towards completely accepting with what is, with no desire for things to be different. If we have a goal we are not satisfied with the present situation. The only goal is to still the mind by being with what is.


For most of us life is stressful and we are not able to change the stressors. However we can change our attitude towards stress. By accepting the stress, the pain, the illness, life’s adversities, etc. and not wishing them to be different we can reduce the effect of these stressors. So meditation can reduce bloodpressure, pain, chronic illnesses, stress levels, anxiety, fear, depression, etc.

Meditation not only has physical benefits it also improves our emotial and mental wellbeing through peace of mind. When practiced on a regular basis it can lead to spiritual growth and self-actualization: realizing our true potential.


Although unknown to most of us, the West, esp. within Christianity, also has a tradition of meditation. The Desert Fathers, St. John of the Cross, St. Julian of Norwich and more recently Fater Bede Griffith all have advocated meditation.

Most of our knowledge however comes from the East; both the Hindu and Buddhist tradition have a long continuous history of meditation.

Recently also psychologists and doctors are opening up to the benefits of meditation. Mindful-Based Strss Reduction therapy is used in hospitals and clinics to help people not only cope with their illnesses, stresses etc. but also reduce them and helping them to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

So although meditation originates from religious traditions, you do not have to be religious to benefit from this practice

Spiritual development

Having taken the mystery out of meditation (by saying it just means ‘concentration’ and that it improves our physical – eg. reduces bloodpressure - and mental wellbeing - eg. it reduces stress & anxiety-) I put it back in again.

Meditation can be much more than cultivating a less stressful attitude to life. When the mind has become somewhat stiller through focussing we can look at our thoughts and realise that thought is an expression of what we are, n ot what we are and so begin to take ourselves less seriously: taking our personality, mood, thinking, etc. with a pinch of salt. We can live the ups and downs of life without becoming destabilised, tasting happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, as being really two sides of the same coin of life. We start to flow more and more with life, with its ups and downs, instead of battling against the current. This leads to a greater awareness. We start to see everything – every event, every situation, every being (human and non-human) – from a wider perspective, leading to compassion: appreciating ourselves and others. Instead of being a lonely creature in a harsh universe, we realise that we are more than body & mind: that each of us are connected to the Whole; that the basis of our existence is not the individual mind but something deeper.


In a meditation class we prepare the body for meditation through gentle yoga-type stretches and breathing excercises. The next 1 hour is spent meditating, which can be sitting, walking and standing. To start with the sessions will be short: 10 min. and gradually become longer until 30 min. or even longer if students feel comfortable to do so. Every person focusses the mind differently so we will practice using different senses and different objects to focus on. Eg. one week we use a candle to focus on; the next week we focus the mind on some music. You can establish which sense/object works best for you to still your mind and use this practice at home.


You will be encouraged to take the practice into your everyday life. Not only through formal practice of sitting but also by practicing informally eg. taking mini-pauses to recentre yourself and bringing a greater awareness into your daily activities.

Meditation classes

I teach meditation at the Wholistic Centre in Godalming on a Thursday evening from 7 - 8 pm starting on 24th September 2009.
Cost: £40 for 6 sessions.
This course is followed by a drop-in session from 8 - 9 pm for people with experience, who want to establish a continuous habit of meditation. For enquiries please contact me.
To book for the classes please contact the Wholistic Centre.

Joanna Al-Zuhairi is a qualified yoga-teacher, mental health nurse and homeopath and has practiced Buddhist meditation for 20 years.