Most people who meditate on a regular basis, say that their meditation practice is without a doubt what keeps them healthiest and performing at their best.
It’s a big deal:
It’s a very powerful way of gaining more control over your life, thinking clearer, feeling better and calming your mind as well. It’s also been linked to massive health benefits such as warding off depression, chronic stress disorders and even Cancer.
Before we begin, bare in mind that it can be daunting for those who don’t have much experience with it. Many make excuses about starting and never get off the ground because they constantly feel inadequate.
What excuses have you used to procrastinate?
- I can’t meditate because I have too much going on in my mind.
- What’s the point?
- There isn’t enough time in my day.
- How can I possibly find the time?
- There’s too much noise in my home.
- How could I create the right environment?
Do any of those sound familiar?
Demystifying the spiritual practice for the uninitiated is important because many discover that meditation practice is not nearly as difficult as they once imagined. We’re going to break down the meditation process for those who might be intimidated by it, so that it’s possible to see that anyone can meditate with just a little bit of persistence.
You won’t become an expert overnight
It’s important to remember not to expect to have the calm demeanor of a master yogi overnight. What’s most important is a regular habit of “showing up” to do the work. That’s why it’s called having a “practice.” It takes time to master meditation!
But that being said, you don’t NEED to master it. You actually can’t really master it, and you’ll feel the benefits even the FIRST time yo do it, so don’t worry too much! Just getting started and actually doing it is way more important than the technique and the details of your practice.
If you really commit yourself to this practice, you will surely see significant results over time. The benefits simply won’t happen over the course of a few days. It must be a commitment that goes into weeks, months and years. It’s a lifestyle change, for sure.
It might seem strange to just ‘sit there’
Look, for most of us, meditation is a strange thing to do.
Sitting down and not moving, with our eyes closed is strange compared to most of our lives.
That’s normal, and it’s meant to feel like that. It only feels strange however, because we DON’T usually practice it. In certain areas of the world like India or Thailand it’s a common part of life, but in places like the USA and the UK, it’s not so normal. Don’t worry, just relax and know that it will feel strange at first.
How to meditate for beginners
By the way, this will feel strange when you first start, and that’s normal. It’s normal to not know what to expect, and to feel a little uncomfortable even at first. Just stick with it and see what you feel like at the end of the practice.
To start with you’re going to aim for about 5 minutes or so of meditation. You can then work your way up to doing 10-15 minutes or more. I find that any more than 15 minutes isn’t really needed.
1: Set a timer, and just breathe
To get started and meditate for the first time, simply find a nice quiet place to sit down, set your phone timer to go off in 5 minutes, and close your eyes. Ideally pick a relaxing alarm tone and not something that’s going to shock you when you finish the practice.
What you’re going to do now, is just count your breathes from one to ten, and then start back at one again. Do this slowly for the ten minutes, and whenever you find your thoughts wandering off, and thinking about something else, bring the attention back to counting your breathes.
I know this sounds very simple, and that’s because it is, but the things going on behind the scenes in your mind are very profound, and you’ll feel very different once you’ve finished.
It feels strange, right? Knowing that all meditation REALLY is, is just sitting there, not moving and just breathing. Now what’s going to happen is you’re going to be thinking random thoughts at first, about all sorts of things. We’ve always got something running through our minds.
The key here is to gently bring your awareness BACK to your breathing every time you catch yourself drifting off into random thoughts. The first few times you do this, you’ll probably find it hard NOT to think about things. But that’s all part of the journey, it’s meant to be hard at the start.
2: Make sure you rooms a good temperature
The temperature of the room also needs to be considered for meditation.
Extreme temperatures are not good for meditation, so finding an environment with a moderate temperature is advised. Some practitioners also recommend wearing socks at all times while meditating but it’s entirely up to you.
It’s entirely possible to meditate anywhere, so do not allow yourself to make excuses. You can meditate on a park bench, at the office or even while on a morning commute. Waiting for “ideal” circumstances to meditate is the easiest way to never get around to meditating.
It doesn’t even matter if there’s lots of noise around you, although it’s better if there’s not noise. you can ignore background noise but when it’s something right in your face, it’s harder to focus. Background noise like people taking at the park should be fine though.
3: Pick the best time to meditate
There is no absolute correct amount of time to meditate, but you’ll generally get a good feeling for how long you should do it for. Some people find it easier than others and can do it for longer.
Remember, any amount of meditation is a step in the right direction. Some recommend starting with 5-10 minutes each day, but if even that amount seems difficult, starting with two minutes a day is recommended. As long as you actually DO it every single day, even two minutes will help a lot.
I’d say to aim for about 15 minutes a day which is what I do. When you’re able to do that, you’ll feel tremendous mental benefits throughout the day and you’ll be much more aware.
4: Learn how to meditate sitting down cross legged
The most common position for meditation is sitting and it can be done in a number of ways.
It can be on the floor or in a chair, depending on your health and abilities. Most people sit cross-legged on a meditation cushion, but experimentation is helpful in finding what works best for you.
A common visualization technique is imagining a thread coming from the top of the head toward the ceiling while you are sitting. This will help you to sit tall in the correct posture. As long as you’re comfortable and your back is straight, it’s fine.
You can meditate while laying down but I wouldn’t suggest it, because you’re likely to fall asleep and not focus. Sitting up cross legged on a cushion or a bed is the best option. You can also just sit on a chair though as long as your back is straight and you can breathe deeply.
5: Work on improving your breathing
Spend some time breathing deeply as you prepare to go further into meditation. Deep breathing is going to help you go to the next level and relax much more.
If you start to feel calmer and less tense, you are on the right path.
On the inhalation breath, breathe through the nose. On the exhalation breath, breathe out through the mouth. Focusing on the breath is the key to success in meditation. If your thoughts wander, no worries, just gently bring your attention back to your breath when you notice this happening.
Most of us NEVER breathe as deeply as we should. We spend 90% of our days breathing in a very shallow and unhealthy way, and this is bad for us long term. It makes our lung capacity less and weaker. This is very evident when you take an average person and dunk them in ice water.
We should be able to deeply breathe, and stay in the water for up to 10 minutes or more but because most of us don’t practice proper breathing in a day to day life, we can’t! I’d suggest looking into other things like cold showers and ice baths if you want to improve this.
6: Research and learn some mantras
Some people find use of a mantra to be helpful in the meditation process. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated silently to yourself over and over again.
This helps with giving the mind something to focus on other than the random thoughts that may be floating through the mind. It’s usually something very simple such as “I am love” or “I am peace.” Whatever it is, it should have a loving and gentle feel to it.
After a while, the repetition of the mantra will become second nature, and it will not be a distraction in meditation.
7: Begin by emptying the mind
Of course, as you develop in your practice, there will be many times that your thoughts stray away from meditation. This is normal and try not to let this inevitability be discouraging.
Do not try too hard to empty the mind. All that is necessary is that when you notice that your mind is straying, gently redirect yourself back to your chosen mantra. I shouldn’t have included this really, because when you TRY to empty the mind, by definition you fill the mind.
It’s something that you’ll do naturally over time, and with more practice. Just by focusing on your breathes, eventually your timer will go off and you’ll realise you weren’t thinking about anything for 15 minutes!
8: Become more self-aware
Meditating isn’t ALL about emptying yourself of thoughts.
It’s a practice that will help in getting more deeply acquainted with yourself. It’s an opportunity to more fully understand the trigger points inside yourself.
- What frustrates you?
- What makes you anxious?
- These are all important insights that lead to deeper self-awareness.
You can practice different types of meditation as you get better. You could for example meditate while thinking ONLY about how your body feels. Or you could meditate while thinking about a problem or a solution. This tends to drift away from what meditation is traditionally but it’s a useful tool.
To do that, just sit there with your eyes closed, and think ONLY about the one thing you WANT to think about. By maintaining this focus and thinking only about what you want to think about, you’ll also build focus and willpower.
The problem with most people who don’t meditate, is we just think about ANYTHING and everything that pops into our minds, and we’re not in control. By meditating, you gain back some control and you’re able to decide what to think and how to feel.
9: Stay with the feelings as they happen
An important component of meditation is learning how to cultivate deeper love and acceptance of yourself.
Why is this important?
Negative emotions are part of being a human being, and they cannot be altogether avoided. However, if one makes “friends” with these emotions. It’s possible to become less overwhelmed by emotions such as fear, frustration and anxiety.
10: Use guided meditations
If it feels right, guided meditations may be helpful.
Not everyone enjoys this approach; however, for others, it is extremely beneficial. Not sure which meditations to use? There are endless guided meditations online for experimentation as you grow in your practice. There are many free and paid apps and programs for guided meditation, so have a look around.
It might be useful especially when you’re first starting out meditation as a beginner, because you’re being told what to do. It’s easier for beginners to focus on someones voice and follow their guidance.
11: Find a good community
Finding solo meditation difficult?
That’s not uncommon, and especially as a beginner. If this is the case, it may be helpful to seek out a group of people who share your commitment to regular meditation.
If it’s not possible to find one locally, consider finding an online group for support and encouragement. I think you’ll be surprised how many people around you and in your local city/town also meditate. Even if you have to travel to the next city, it’s worth it just to socialise with other meditators and meditate together.
12: End your practice in a nice way
When you feel that your time is up, it’s important to slowly bring your consciousness back to your environment.
Slowly begin to move your limbs a little at a time. When it feels right, open your eyes. Do all of this with care and attention as you return to your environment. It’s important at this point to pay real attention to how you FEEL in your body and mind.
This will help cement the benefits in your mind and you’ll be more likely to meditate the next day, because you remember how good it feels afterwards. Also try not to SNAP back into reality so fast when your alarm goes off. It’s good to have a soft gong or bell noise, and then SLOWLY open your eyes.
This helps transition into the real world again, and makes the benefits stay with you longer. Lots of people end their meditation with a SHARP horrible alarm tone, which sort of undoes all the work they’ve just done by meditating and makes them just as stressed as when they started!
There are lots of free apps for alarms and soft ambient noises, so make sure your timer/alarm tone is a soft one.
That’s it? It seems so simple
Yes. To meditate and feel the benefits, that’s literally all you need to do.
Of course there are dozens of different types of meditation, all with different steps and methods but this is the most simple, and arguably the most effective.
It’s so simple, that anyone can remember how to do it, and turn it into part of their daily routine. For this reason, this is the method I wanted to share with you today because the chances are if you’re reading this, you just googled ‘how to meditate’ or something similar.
Just practice that, do it every day and look back on yourself after a month or so. You’ll feel very different, I can assure you. At this point you don’t even need to know how or why it works, because it’s just not important! Just try it, see how you feel, and then go from there!
Now you can meditate!
Meditation doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as many people seem to think the practice has to be!
The key to success is pretty simple: regularity, persistence and a loving attitude toward yourself. So many people are “end result” oriented and fail to realize that the primary gift of meditation lies in the journey itself.
If meditation is something you’ve always wanted to do, the time to start is now. No more excuses! The rewards are endless. May your meditation journey be fulfilling! You can find some excellent books on meditation here, but most of the learning happens when you just PRACTICE meditation, and listen to ho your body feels!
Oh, if you want to take it one small step further, try listening to binaural beats like these while you meditate. These are special soundwaves that let you shift your brainwave state in just a few minutes. They basically let you reach deeply relaxed and meditative states within minutes instead of hours.