Once seen as kind of ‘out-there’, meditation has made it’s way into the mainstream and I think it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. So if the concept makes your head hurt but you’re curious to know more, this beginner’s guide to meditation is perfect for you.
Thanks to hundreds of scientific papers that prove the benefits of meditation to the brain; and its tireless promotion by famous teachers such as Deepak Chopra, Gabby Bernstein and the Dalai Lama, it’s no surprise you want to know more.
But with all of the different techniques, teachers and books out there, no one could blame you if you had no idea how to start a meditation practice of your own.
Let me assure you – not only is meditation a simple practice that anyone can do, it’s the ultimate act of self-care. In Mastering The Art Of Self-Love I explain why and share extra tips of getting started. Register now – it’s packed with goodness and free!
A Beginner’s Guide To Meditation
What Is Meditation Exactly?
There’s a big myth that meditation is the ability to stop thinking. So when people try it and find they can’t stop their thoughts, they feel like a failure and give up. But here’s the truth:
Deep meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. Rather, it is the ability not to get lost in your thoughts, but to maintain a steady focus on an object of your attention.
For example, your breath, sensations in your body, a mantra or a candle flame). While maintaining this focus, thoughts can and will arise, but rather than mentally following them down the rabbit hole, in meditation we notice them, allow them to pass and continue our focus. Through practice we become better at this and find that we can apply this same behaviour in everyday life, which can feel deeply relaxing and blissful.
In short, once you get the hang of it, it feels wonderful! But more importantly, meditation helps to:
- Aleviate stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Overcome depression
- Improve concentration
- Experience more ease and joy in your life
- Become more aware of and in, the present moment.
John Lennon once famously said “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. Becoming more aware of the present moment means that you are more open to the experiences of your life and to others around you.
How to Meditate in 3 Easy Steps
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty so that you can get meditating right away. Meditation techniques for beginners needn’t be complicated. There are 3 main things to do while meditating
Sit somewhere quiet with a straight spine (on a cushion, chair or on the floor) and set a timer for 20 minutes.
Your meditation may be for a few minute or much longer. 2-20minutes is a good timeframe to start. Focus your attention on your chosen object (watching the natural flow of your breath or repeating a mantra in your mind such as “I AM” over and over are two good options to start with). Let your focus me clear but don’t strain. Observe the breath or the repetition of the mantra in detail, while noting anything else that arises such as thoughts, feelings in the body, outside sounds etc.
Whilst meditating… When you catch your mind wandering off or when you notice that you are lost in thought, gently bring your awareness back to your object of attention. Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up, this is all part of it. Keep noticing when you are lost and then returning to your focus as many times as you need to until the timer goes off. You may want to rest or lie down for 5 minutes after your practice.
Making Meditation a Regular Habit
Like anything, meditation requires practice to fully realise its benefits. Setting up a daily meditation habit is the best way to get results. Just like exercise, this takes a little bit of willpower and dedication in the beginning until you start to enjoy it. But soon your natural desire will keep you motivated to stick to it. Just like going to the gym or running, put it in your schedule and stick to it. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it because you really want to, not just because it’s scheduled into your day.
First thing in the morning, when you first get home from work, or before bed are good times to meditate. Just make sure that you show up everyday, even if you feel tired, unmotivated or bored with your meditation practice. In fact, it is at these times that you need meditation the most. Soon you will find that your day just doesn’t feel right if you skip your 20 minutes of cushion-time!
Want to learn more?
Listen to this podcast on How To Meditate (Successfully) where I share my top tips, techniques and mantras for when meditating for various purposes such as sleep or anxiety. I also delve deeper into how, when and where to meditate, plus for how long.
If you’re after a beginners meditation program or beginners meditation course, here is my free online meditation course. And if video is your preferred method over books, do a Google search for ‘meditation for beginners youtube’ or ‘guided meditation for beginners‘ – there are many free options available to help you on your meditation journey.
P.S. Do you know someone who might find this helpful. Share it with them and help us create a less stressed, more peaceful world for us all.
P.P.S. Start Mastering The Art Of Self-Love – a 7 day email series designed to help you cultivate self-care practices including regular meditation.