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A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

A beginner’s guide to meditation

When someone mentions meditation, your mind might initially conjure the image of a Buddhist monk in a dark red robe, surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. In reality, it’s been estimated that an amazing 200 – 500 million people practice meditation worldwide! This popular mental exercise has been shown to have both emotional and physical benefits. Today (21st May) is World Meditation Day, so there’s no better time to get started. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of meditation and how you can perfect this centuries old practice.

Why meditate?

Through carrying out regular meditation, your wellbeing can enjoy a much-needed boost. You may already be aware of some of the mental benefits associated with this relaxation method, namely managing stress, increasing self-awareness, and increasing patience and tolerance. However, did you also know that meditation has also been cited as potentially helping to manage an array of health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, heart disease, and tension headaches?

It’s important to note, that whilst meditation is a useful addition to traditional medicine, it should not be used to replace this. Always ensure that you speak to a medical professional about anything you experience so that you are giving your body the very best care and attention.

How can I get started?

The first time you sit down to meditate, it’s very likely that you’ll close your eyes and then an influx of thoughts will enter your mind – “has the cat had its breakfast?” “What time am I supposed to be meeting Jane for our afternoon walk?” “Have I done a recent meter reading for the gas?” Our minds are naturally busy places, so you’ll need to train it to be still and empty. Despite the trepidations you may have to start with, remember that it can be done.

The process of meditating is simple enough – sit and practice. Close your eyes, stay focussed on your breathing and let your mind focus.

Step by step meditation

Here’s how you can get started:

Sit: Find somewhere comfortable that is quiet and where you feel calm.

Timing: It’s useful to decide beforehand how long you want to take. As a beginner, it’s recommended to start small – perhaps 5 or 10 minutes. You can build up your time the more you do it.

Your surroundings: Be aware of where you are sat – make sure you are comfortable, stable and in a position that you can hold for the time allotted.

Breathing: In and out. Focus on each breath as you slowly inhale and exhale. Concentrate all your thoughts on this simple process.

Wandering mind: Mindful.org explains, “Inevitably, your attention will leave the breathing and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to your breathing.”

Practice makes perfect: Be kind to yourself – remember that this is a new journey you’re embarking on and it’s okay for it to take a while to get right. Keep trying and understand that it may take time to feel natural.

Gentle finish: When you’re ready to pull yourself back to reality, do it slowly and gently. Open your eyes and take a moment to notice your surroundings again – what can you see? What do you hear? Are there any smells around you? Your senses will be more in tune for a moment – enjoy this period of enhanced sensations.

And that’s it! It’s simple in premise but will take time to master. Practice as often as your schedule allows and always be kind and patient with your own progress.

What’s next?

Meditation is a wonderful hobby to learn. Once you master the basics, there are different types of meditation you can try. Some people find it useful to chant a familiar mantra, others look to a guided meditation where they are taken through with pictures or sounds. There are even physical versions of meditation, such as tai chi and yoga. The meditative world is your oyster, with numerous ways to develop your new focus.

Mindfulness is another avenue you could try. If you’re not sure where to start, then you can learn all about it in our article, A Beginners Guide to Mindfulness.

Let us know how you get on and share your meditation tips with us on our Facebook page. 

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