A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
Meditation is a wonderful practice that can bring a host of mental and physical benefits. It’s convenient, easy to try and it doesn’t cost anything. You can do it at home wherever you have space and can find some quiet time. In fact, it’s been estimated that an amazing 200 – 500 million people practice meditation worldwide. But how do you get started? With the help of our straight-forward guide on how to meditate for beginners, you can discover more about simple and easy meditation, the benefits of meditation and how to meditate at home.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an umbrella term for a number of mental techniques that involve focussing your mind to train your attention or your awareness. With meditation, you take a step back to try and calm the whirl of thoughts in your head. You try to focus on specific thoughts to become more aware of your thinking. For example:
With concentrative meditation, you may focus on a specific topic, or something outside of your thinking like breathing. This can bring a sense of peace and can help you improve your focus and your attention.
With mindfulness meditation, you try to become more aware of your thoughts. You learn to study your thinking, and your reactions and feelings about certain topics. This can assist with negative thoughts and behaviours and can help people with conditions like depression and anxiety.
Why meditate: what are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation had been around for hundreds – if not thousands of years – and the practitioners of meditation have long extoled its virtues. More recently, scientific research has continued to reveal more and more benefits of meditation, including:
- Reducing stress
- Improving attention and memory
- Bringing greater clarity of thought
- Increasing self-awareness
- Better sleep
- Helping to manage the symptoms of mental health issues – including depression, anxiety, pain issues and sleep disorders
- Improving emotional wellbeing and happiness
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Improving immunity
It’s important to note that, whilst meditation is a useful addition to traditional medicine, it should not be used to replace it. 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.
Is meditation right for me?
A fair amount of myth, misinformation, and fashion surrounds meditation. This can make it seem more complex than it really is and can restrict how people try to meditate. It can also make it feel like meditation is only for a select group of people.
The truth is; anyone can meditate, and anyone can benefit from it. Rather than worrying about if meditation is right for you, dive in and give it a try.
How do you meditate: A simple step-by-step guide to easy meditation
The big question you might be asking yourself is “how to do meditation?”. Here’s how you can get started with meditating at home:
Sit or lie comfortably: Find somewhere to sit or lie down that’s quiet and where you feel calm. It also needs to be comfortable and a place where you won’t get distracted. It’s a common myth that you need to sit in a specific position to meditate, but that isn’t true. You can sit in a comfy chair or lie down in bed. It all depends on where you feel most comfortable and relaxed.
Set a time: Many people find it easiest to begin meditating if they set a specific time to meditate for. But don’t worry about doing it for too long – as this makes it too easy to be put off when you don’t achieve your goal. You can mediate for as little as a minute when you’re getting started. Think of meditation like exercise – a practice to start slowly and to build up over time.
Set a timer with a gentle alarm to let you know when your time is up rather than having to open your eyes to check a clock.
Close your eyes and breathe: Close your eyes to shut out external distractions. Breathe in slowly in and out through your nose. Try to focus your mind on your breathing to calm it and clear your thoughts. Focus on every inhalation and exhalation.
Be aware of and calm your wandering mind: Mindful.org explains, “Inevitably, your attention will leave your 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.”
Come back to reality gently: When you’re ready to pull yourself back to reality, do so 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 before you go back to daily life.
And that’s it. You’ve meditated. Congratulations.
Making meditation part of your life
Starting meditation is simple, but it’s a practice that takes years to master. If you want to progress with meditation, try to practice regularly and with consistency. A good way to make meditation a regular part of your life is to devote specific times of the day – or days of the week – to meditating. One you’ve developed a routine, you can try meditating for longer, slowly increasing how long your sessions are.
Although meditation is simple in premise, it takes time to progress. Be kind and patient with your own development. Remember that there’s no perfect ideal of meditation to strive for, and that some days will be better than others. It might sound cliché, but meditation is really one of those practices where the journey is more important than the destination.
Meditation is a wonderful and beneficial practice and one that offers variety and depth. Once you master the basics, there are many different types of meditation you can try. These include guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation. There are even physical versions of meditation, such as tai chi and yoga.
The meditative world is your oyster. Explore it, enjoy it and find the forms of meditation that most appeal to you.