Fall 2020 Guidance
In response to COVID-19, university courses and operations remain predominantly online for fall.

10-Minute Mindful Breathing and Self-Compassion Meditation

Associate Professor Sidney Trantham, division director for our graduate Counseling and Psychology programs, shares a short breathing meditation that you can do almost anywhere.

Preparing to Meditate

First, get ready for your 10-minute mindful breathing and self-compassion meditation.

  1. Find a quiet and private space.
  2. Turn off anything that might be distracting. Put your phone on silent and turn off the TV.
  3. Use a timer and set a bell or chime to go off at 2-minute intervals, for a total of 10 minutes. There are many free meditation apps that provide an easy-to-use timer with interval bells. Insight Timer has a free IOS version.

    First chime: Set for the end of the second minute, the end of setting your intention.

    Second chime: Set for the end of the fourth minute, the end of the mindful breathing exercise.

    Third chime: Set for the end of the sixth minute, the end of the self-compassion exercise.

    Fourth chime: Set for the end of the eighth minute, the end of the second round of mindful breathing exercise.

    Fifth and final chime: Set for the end of the tenth minute, which is the end of coming back to full awareness.
  4. Sit on the edge of a chair, but your back should not rest on the back of the chair. Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  5. Rest your hands on your legs with your head up straight and your chin slightly down.
  6. Your eye gazes toward the floor. Lower your eyelids so that your eyes are almost entirely closed. You may see a little light, and that's okay, but don't close your eyes tightly.
Remember, there is no wrong way to do this. All you have to do is try and no one expects perfection.
Sidney Trantham, Associate Professor, Graduate Counseling & Psychology Division

Now that you're ready, here are the steps for each of the 2-minute intervals of the 10-minute meditation. Remember, there is no wrong way to do this. All you have to do is try and no one expects perfection.

Step 1: Set your intention (2 minutes, until the first chime).

Set your intention for what you are about to do. For example, you may say to yourself:

  • I don’t have to do this perfectly. There is no perfect.
  • It’s okay if my mind wanders. All I have to do is gently bring myself back to the task at hand.
  • I can do this.
  • No judgments.

Let yourself sit quietly for a moment and be aware of what is happening around you: the sounds, the smells, the temperature, your thoughts, the experiences happening in your body, such as your heart beating, your palms sweating, any aches and pains, or your stomach growling.

Just notice what is happening and be curious about it. Stay in this space until you hear the first chime, which is the signal to begin Step 2.

Step 2: Center on your breath (2 minutes, until the second chime).

Bring your awareness to your breath. With the intention of being extremely curious about your breath—noticing what it feels like as it enters your nostrils, moves down your chest, and fills your stomach—do the following:

  1. Breathe in through your nose on a count of three. Let your breath slowly fill your belly and feel your stomach rise and push out.
  2. Let your breath sit in your body for a count of three, without breathing in or out.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth on a count of 3.
  4. Repeat this breathing until you hear the second chime, which is the signal to begin Step 3.

Step 3: Engage in self-compassion meditation (2 minutes, until the third chime).

While keeping your eyes closed, place your right hand over your heart.

Slowly and gently say the following phrases out loud to yourself. Say each phrase three times before moving on to the next one. If you are in a public space and do not feel comfortable saying these phrases out loud, it’s okay to say them silently to yourself. Keep saying these statements to yourself until you hear the third chime, which is the signal to move on to Step 4.

  1. May I be safe.
  2. May I be well.
  3. May I be kind to myself.
  4. May I accept myself as I am.
  5. May I know peace.

Step 4: Center on your breath (2 minutes, until the fourth chime).

Return to the initial breathing exercise in Step 2 and focus on your breath.

Keep focusing on your breath until you hear the fourth chime, which is the signal to move on to the fifth and final step—coming back to full awareness.

Step 5: Come back to full awareness (2 minutes, until the fifth chime).

Slowing bring yourself back to full awareness. With your eyes closed, scan your body and pay attention to any sensations you feel, just being aware of them.

Pay attention to your mood and how you feel emotionally. Begin to extend your awareness to your surroundings. Start to notice any sounds, odors, etc.

Before opening your eyes, set an intention for yourself once you end the meditation. Often, a brief statement of something you wish to focus on during that day is helpful.


  • I will listen more today.
  • I will speak honestly, even when it’s hard to speak the truth.
  • I will do one new thing today.
  • I will not let my fear or anxiety stop me from doing what I want to do today.
  • I will not beat up on myself today.

About Sidney Trantham

Sidney Trantham is an associate professor and division director of Lesley's graduate Counseling and Psychology Division, home to several master's degree, certificate, and doctoral programs.