How to meditate for beginners: the guide you’ve been looking for!
If you’re looking for information on how to meditate, you know this is more than just a trend. You’ve probably noticed how a lot of people, including famous and recognized people, are benefiting from it. Meditation has actually been practised since ancient times in countries like Japan, China, India, among many others. Monks have used it for millennia to achieve enlightenment.
Now, thanks to globalization and the internet, this practice is just one click away. And it’s helping thousands of people to live a more wholesome and peaceful life.
That’s why I’m so glad you’re here!
You’re taking the first step into improving your life and your mental health. That’s something to be proud of. And I’m more than happy to help you with this guide on how to meditate for beginners.
Let’s get to it!
What is meditation, and what are its benefits?
When following too many influencers and coaches on the net, we may mistake meditation with some out-of-world experience. I’m sure we have all seen those memes about meditation being a psychedelic trip. And for people that meditate as a way of living like monks, it can happen, although I wouldn’t know for my own experience.
As a beginner in meditation, you’re not likely to feel like you leave your body; neither will you feel like your soul is soaring in an empty sky… Sorry about that. To most, meditation is more like a grounding experience, one that brings us to the here and now. A tool to improve and harmonize the relationship we have with our minds.
The point is to let go of the urge to control our stream of thoughts. It’s not about fighting against distractions; it’s about just allowing them to pass… not clinging onto them. Instead of getting infatuated with your thoughts, you’re allowed for that short period to just observe them. There’s no need to judge your emotions; just acknowledge them and then let them flow naturally.
That’s what meditation is really about, giving your body, mind and soul, a break to recharge energy and lower down the accelerated pace from day-to-day.
Among the advantages you’ll achieve with this practice, I think you’ll be interested in these proven health benefits:
- Healthier heart
- Stronger immune system
- Coping skills for stress, depression, and anxiety
- Improved memory
- More quality sleep
- Management of premenstrual syndrome.
And if these weren’t enough, learning how to meditate can provide these other science-backed upsides:
- Increased concentration and focus
- Increased self-esteem due to a better understanding and consciousness of your true self
- Improved response in addiction fighting
- Management of chronic and acute pain
- Promotes empathy towards others
Meditation types: which one is recommended for beginners?
You may not know it, but there’s not just one type of meditation. Different techniques are available for distinct purposes, while some may serve far more than one.
Not all meditations are beginner-friendly; some of them require previous training and familiarity. Finding the ‘correct’ type of meditation for you may take you some time. But if you are new to this, you may consider starting with mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation doesn’t require much for you to practice. Plus, it’s easy to improve just by repetition, and it doesn’t take much time. Let’s look at this and other types of meditation that you may want to try at some point in your meditation journey.
The first thing we may know is that mindfulness and meditation are not the same exact thing. Mindfulness by itself talks about a way of perceiving life. Being more aware of what surrounds you here and now. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, responds to being mindful during a certain period. Using it as a relaxation and grounding tool. They’re naturally related – practising mindfulness meditation will help train you to increase your awareness in everyday life too.
Later in this article, we’ll explain step by step how to meditate for beginners, using the mindfulness approach.
Another practical technique for beginners, this method consists of repeating a mantra. Through softly spoken repetitive words, the aim is to achieve an elevated state of calmness.
The movement endorsing mantra meditation affirms it works with everybody. Even people that can’t meditate. The counterpart is that only certified teachers can teach it, so you’ll have to invest if you want to meditate this way.
Other types of meditations
Now, have a look at other types of meditation:
It’s functional for checking your physical health and enabling full-body relaxation. As the name implies, it consists of scanning each part of your body methodically. The curious part is that you should do it from the feet up… after grounding your feet consciously. It may help with symptoms like depersonalization or dissociation.
Walking or moving meditation
Movement is a great way to be more mindful and meditate. If you’re not used to exercising, something as simple as walking will be more than enough. Other activities like dancing or yoga are great for meditating too.
But it doesn’t end there;
Moving meditation may include cleaning or baking-like activities. This type of meditation is great for increasing focus and enhancing energy. The technique is that you attempt to make each movement with great awareness and conscience.
As a more extreme form of mindfulness, focus meditation concentrates your attention on one particular objective. Focus meditation usually requires some sensorial stimulant like a gong or beads. This method brings many considerable benefits, but it may also be more difficult for beginners.
What if I told you meditation could also promote empathy and kindness? That’s what this meditation is about. This ancient Buddhist meditation, also called Metta, consists in consciously wishing for the wellbeing and freedom of others and yourself. This practice awakens positivity, empathy, and even happiness, helping cope with depression, anxiety, and stress.
Now that you have a general idea of what meditations you may explore in the future. Let’s continue with our guide on how to meditate for beginners.
How to do mindfulness meditation: learning how to meditate from scratch
Ok, so we already stated that mindfulness meditation is not about emptying your mind, avoiding your thoughts, or having psychedelic experiences. We also determined that this type of meditation has much more to do with training your mind to focus and be present.
There’s no secret in here; it will take time for you to see the improvements. But it’s worth it, particularly if you’re struggling with anxiety or a stressful period in your life. The main goal of this method is that you become able to apply it to your everyday life. Not only being mindful when it comes to meditating but every day.
You’ll eventually be able to decide if you want to adopt this vision of life. But you should not run before you learn to walk.
So, first, let’s see how to meditate step by step.
- Set an intention: having a purpose from the beginning may help fight the urge to quit meditation.
- Wear comfortable clothes: neither too tight nor oversized, that may distract you.
- Turn off your phone and other devices, or switch it to airplane mode.
- Find the place where you would be the less distracted: you must reduce distraction as possible, particularly if you’re learning how to meditate.
- Choose a time when there’s less noise: it’s recommended to meditate at the same time every day, so choosing a quiet time is beneficial.
- Find a comfortable position: whether you’re sitting on a meditation cushion, or lying down, make sure that you are comfortable staying in the same posture for a few minutes. Even so, it’s recommended to begin in a straight sitting position as it prevents you from falling asleep.
- Set a time for your practice. If you’re unsure, you may start with a couple of minutes and go from there.
- Warm-up (optional): some people find it easier to focus if they’ve activated their body before meditation. Try some light yoga or stretching.
- Close your eyes or keep them just slightly open: keeping your eyes open may lead you to be easily distracted. But forcing them shut may also have counterproductive outcomes. So, just find an in-between where you feel at ease and can calmly hold it for a few minutes.
- Begin with a few deep breaths to set the mind into the mood.
- Keep present that your mind may and will wander from time to time: Leave judgments outside; this moment is for you to be kind with yourself.
- Recognize the time and space you’re in: give yourself these few minutes to perceive the present.
- Notice any mental and physical sensation on your body: whether it’s tension, fears, skepticism, restlessness… Compassionately identify them, and let them go on their way.
- Be aware of your breathing: where do you feel it most? Is it agitated or slow? Have you inhaled? Be aware. Have you exhaled? Be aware. But once you notice it, don’t try to modify it or control it.
- Avoid trying to feel a particular sensation: it’s easy to get derailed into trying to actively feel more relaxed. But that may lead to frustration if the feeling doesn’t come out as expected.
- Regulate your breathing (optional): once you get some practice, you may start timing your breaths. So you take the same time to inhale than to exhale. Counts can go from 3 to 8, depending on your capacity.
- Let go of regulation after a few breaths and let your stream of thought run freely.
- When you feel yourself clinging to any idea, kindly remind yourself to let it go. And repeat.
- When you feel like it’s time to go back into your regular activities, do it slowly and with care. You may stretch a bit to re-activate your body.
- Remember that there’s no doing it right or wrong. Meditation will always feel different, but as long as you’re doing it, it’s right.
- Make it a habit!
While these steps are a guide and not a law, I hope they help you find your way into mindfulness meditation.
Remember that you can always turn to guided meditation, whether it’s through a trained instructor or a meditation app (you can see a list of apps and resources at the end of this article.)
Mindfulness meditation techniques
Some experts consider that any technique that focuses on acknowledging any present factor is also a form of mindfulness meditation.
In that sense, we may find some already mentioned in this article and some new ones:
- Walking meditation
- Mindful eating: consists of focusing on the sensations created while eating. It includes tastes, smells, and chewing.
- Grounding technique: it consists of counting at least one thing you can hear, one you feel, one you can see, one you can smell, and so on. This technique helps with anxiety and feeling present.
- S.T.O.P technique: the acronym stands for:
- S: stop your current activities for a moment.
- T: take a conscious breath but don’t change your regular pace.
- O: observe your thoughts as if they weren’t your own. This way, you may analyze the situation from a different perspective.
- P: proceed to reach your support circle. It may be a friend or a relative.
- Alternating your nostrils for breathing: it will equilibrate the oxygen on both hemispheres of your brain, increasing focus.
How many minutes should a beginner meditate?
Meditation is not an endurance race. The amount of time you meditate is less significant than you consistently practice… Even if for a few minutes. Some guided meditations only last around 2-5 minutes. And those are perfect for restless beginners who find it hard to stay still.
But in time, you may find that you enjoy practicing it for 15-20 minutes or more. All times are perfectly valid; just make sure you do it as regularly as possible. The moment you decide to begin meditating is the tipping point for change. Avoid judging yourself if you only achieved a couple of minutes! It’s always better than not doing it at all!
What to think about while meditating?
There’s no correct answer for this question, as the idea is to avoid controlling your stream of thought. Nobody can stop thinking, what you can do, is observe and then let go of your thoughts or let them pass by. It’s only natural that the mind wanders, and any kind of consideration can pop up when meditating –even some embarrassing visions!
But that’s ok!
As long as you let them go and allow them to pass by. And if you notice you got sucked into the thought, just go back to focusing on your breathing… no judgment, just repetition, and practice.
Finally, and as promised, I will provide a list of different resources such as apps, courses, and books for the meditation beginner.
Good apps and resources for learning how to meditate
The best way to stay on track when we have no idea how to meditate is by drawing upon guided meditations and experts.
In case you don’t have any, here you can find some interesting tools:
Mindfulness courses with certified instructors
Guided meditation and videos
Apps and downloadable tools
I really hope that this beginner’s guide for meditation generates a positive impact on your life. If you still have doubts about how to meditate, feel free to reach out to me for further information!
If you enjoyed this article, you may find our other piece about knowing your self worth.