I started imagining this column while meditating. Which tells you how good I am at it. I use an app designed to guide newbies through mindfulness exercises with a monk-turned-millionaire named Andy. He speaks slowly in a British accent.

As you breathe in, you're focusing on the chest expanding, the lungs filling with air

After six months, I'm on Lesson Five. I forget to meditate. I run, instead. Whether it's 10km or 20, movement is more accessible than meditation.

As the mind wanders off, just gently bringing back the attention again.

It's 7am when Miss 13 wanders into the lounge, where my meandering mind and I are wrestling on the sofa. "Come try this with me," I say. "Is this gonna waste my time?" she asks, knowing we'll leave the house in 60 minutes and she must get ready for school.

"No, it'll be good for you. And me." Miss 13 lasts six minutes before dismissing Andy's voice as "creepy".

Just let the body do whatever it wants.

This body wants to move. This body craves a room of her own, because meditating in full view of the family feels - creepy. And I'm distracted.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1922 asked for a meditation room to be added to his stone house near Lake Zurich. "In my retiring room, I am by myself," he said. "I keep the key with me all the time; no one else is allowed in there except with my permission."

Starting at the top of the head, just scanning down through the body- noticing those areas, areas of comfort, areas of discomfort.

I lack a "retiring room" or even an office. I've been chaperoned since 2004, when my first-born emerged - demanding and vigilant, like an electronic monitoring bracelet. Or probation officer.

My second escort, her brother, arrived the following year. I started the party by getting married, having two children, then hosting exchange students, and my kids' friends, plus all the extras who migrate in and out of our home. Seventy per cent of me says, "I'm an extrovert. I like this. I got this."

The other 30 per cent of me wants to be LEFT THE HELL ALONE, GOSH DARN IT. I'd like to accomplish something, or at least make to-do lists. Maybe enjoy peace with no one asking, "Where's my...?" or, "Hey, Honey, come look at this..." Must I seek? Or examine? Or talk? I need a room.

The moment you've realised the mind has wandered, coming back again, those physical sensations as you scan down towards the toes

My home office is a desk in our lounge. I swat family members from it like blow flies, telling them there will be - HELL TO PAY, GOSH DARN IT - if they touch my computer (last time I went away, my hard drive committed suicide).

My other work spaces feature open-plan offices born decades ago when consultants spouting jargon like "synergy" and "20,000 foot level" decided productivity would improve if employees were packed together while listening to multiple simultaneous conversations.

Add copier hum, musical ring tones and the aroma of Betsy's lunch eaten al desko - it's almost Zen-like.

How are you feeling right now?

...as if I can only be alone in my car.

A friend gifted herself a trek at the Tongariro Crossing for her 40th birthday.


When I asked if she wanted company, she said, "I appreciate the offer, and much as I enjoy other people, I crave solitude."

Technically, she walked solo, but Tongariro in summer has become a conveyor belt of humanity clad in tramping boots, trainers and jandals. Even Mauao is populated with runners and walkers summiting before dawn, at midday, evenings and points in-between.

Just settling the mind, settling the attention on that rising and falling sensation of the breath

Some of you live alone. All rooms are yours. Talking to the cat all weekend can be lonely. Fret not - I'll send my family over so I can have the house to myself for a few hours.

Just allowing the mind to do its own thing. Let it do whatever it wants to do.

I returned to an empty house this evening just after five. No kids. Or their friends. No husband. Just me and the dog. Maybe I can squeeze in 10 minutes with Andy...

The serenity bubbles burst in five minutes, when our international student padded into the kitchen and started crinkling plastic before crunching, crunching, crunching crackers.

Then just gently bringing the attention back to the body...then when you're ready, you can just gently open the eyes.

Sorry, Andy. Catch you next decade.

Dawn Picken also writes for the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend and tutors at Toi Ohomai. She is a former TV journalist and marketing director who lives in Papamoa with her husband, two school-aged children and a dog named Ally.