The idea of meditation can be very intimidating. In such a fast-paced world, taking a moment to stay still and clear the head seems far from productive. However, anxiety and stress can soon manifest into physical symptoms. Meditation provides huge health benefits for the mind, body, and soul, making it essential for all-round wellness.
There appears to be a growing interest in meditation. More people are willing to try it out and gain inner peace and self-awareness. Mindfulness will eliminate negative feelings and let go of stressors, making you more grounded in the present.
There’s usually some resistance when trying an activity that is different from the usual routine. It may be challenging to start, but here are useful tips for meditation beginners.
1. Start slow.
If it helps you to calm down, try playing soft music as you prepare to meditate. When you’re ready to start, turn it off.
It’s best to start slowly to help your mind shift from an overwhelming state of busy-ness to a more relaxed one. It’s normal to encounter some resistance when trying something new, so analyze these obstacles and work your way through them. Over time, you will be able to get in the mood more easily and with less struggle.
2. Don’t overdo it.
When you’re just starting to meditate, don’t immediately try it for 20 minutes. It is likely to take weeks or months before a person becomes ultimately comfortable for more extended periods. Start meditating for two minutes at a time and work your way up. Adjust your pace as necessary, and don’t pressure yourself with expectations. When you feel like your two-minute meditation is flying by, it’s time to try increasing the duration. Meditating isn’t a race, so don’t compare your session to other people’s. Focus on giving yourself the balance and peace of mind that you’re looking for.
3. Avoid dwelling on the process.
You may find yourself stalling for time in order to avoid meditating. You procrastinate by convincing yourself that it’s not the right position, or that you have to find the perfect pillow. Don’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty details. Otherwise, you will never start. Just get comfortable and then optimize it as you go along. Begin your session before you start overthinking it. Getting started is often the biggest hurdle, but you’ll find it easy to keep going once you start.
4. Listen to what your body is telling you.
If any part of your body starts hurting, you’ll need to adjust your position. It’s fine to explore other meditation methods such as sitting in a chair, lying down, or walking. In fact, it may be best to try it all out before deciding on a favourite one.
You can use pillows to support your back and knees. Some people find that sitting against a wall helps to support their back better. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, so don’t force yourself to do something that isn’t comfortable. It simply boils down to what resonates best for you.
5. Commit to the same place.
In the interest of making it a habit and a consistent part of your routine, stick to the same location. Remember that this place can be anywhere as long as you know that you won’t be disturbed and that you can remain still. No matter which meditation method you choose, marking that location will help you associate it with relaxation.
6. Forget the stereotypical ideas of meditating.
You don’t have to sit cross-legged if you don’t find it comfortable. You don’t need to stick to strict hand positions either. If using hand mudras isn’t your thing, don’t force it. Let go of the image you have in your head about meditating. You have to sit up straight, but it doesn’t have to be too straight. If you’re too comfortable, you may end up falling asleep. An ideal position would be somewhere between extreme comfort and excessive rigidity. Try sitting on a comfy sofa or lying down on the floor with a rolled-up towel under your neck.
7. Do a mental and emotional check-in after each session.
After your short meditation, take a few seconds to reflect on your current state. Does your mind feel clearer than before? Were you able to find peace and clarity about your day? It helps to know if your session was helpful because it keeps you on track. You will be more consistent at it if you do know that it makes you feel better emotionally. Establishing a connection between meditation and relaxation will remind you of its positive benefits.
8. Try counting your breaths.
Beginners often give up on meditation because their minds continually race. That’s naturally how the brain works, so it’s not something one can just turn off instantly. Try observing and counting your breaths to keep your thoughts from distracting you. This allows you to focus on meditation alone and not on the things that cause your stress. For others, they find that repeating a word or phrase is more effective than counting the breaths. This varies from one person to another, so see which works better for you. Suppressing thought will make your mind race even more, so focus on simply observing each thought as it appears and gently let it drift, reminding yourself to return to your meditation.
9. Find comfort through the discomfort.
Many beginners are afraid of confronting their feelings during meditation because it’s uncomfortable. If you experience negative emotions like restlessness and anxiety, you do have to learn to work through it instead of pushing it down. Don’t resist these feelings. It will be beneficial for you to recognize them and address them through meditation. Those who have been meditating for years still struggle with this, so don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult initially.
10. Set an alarm for your sessions.
It’s difficult to form a habit, especially when your mind and body are new to it. To help you carve out time for your meditation, set the alarm and stick by it. Since meditation can take as little as 10-15 minutes, it is possible to incorporate it into your existing daily routine. You can get up a bit earlier in the morning to jumpstart your day with mindfulness. It’s also helpful to meditate before bed to improve the quality of your sleep. You may also take some time out of your lunch break if there are no other options. The important thing is to make time and be consistent.
11. Find a meditation buddy.
Just like with any other habit, it might do you good to find a buddy who will try it with you. It’s easy to lose motivation when trying out something new on your own. Think of it as finding an accountability partner where you constantly motivate each other to meditate. It’s easy to make excuses when it’s only you, but it’s very effective when you know that someone will call you out on it. While you encourage your buddy to keep at it, you’re helping yourself continue the habit as well.
12. Permit yourself to make mistakes.
When your mind wanders, it’s okay to start over again and go back to focusing on your breathing. If you accidentally fall asleep, do better at your next session. It’s all right to make mistakes. If you’re just starting, you’re not going to be good at it immediately. The truth is, even if you feel like you’ve perfected meditation, you may still stray, your thoughts may still turn to the next meal or meeting. Truly though, it’s not the end of the world, so don’t dwell on it. Simply bring your focus back to meditation and continue.
Trying out meditation for the first time can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. Luckily, we’ve got 15 practical tips for you to get you over those first few humps.
13. Practice hyperawareness.
To focus and keep your racing thoughts from distracting you, practice focusing your attention on yourself and your environment. Start by doing a body scan from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Take the time to think about how each body part feels: Is it comfortable? Does it feel hot or cold? Do your muscles need to stretch? Move on to your environment afterward, such as the lights you see and the sounds you hear. Notice the light source in the room and recognize the different things that are making sounds. Being aware of your own body and the space around you when meditating will allow you to commit 100% to the present moment without your mind darting off elsewhere. This will help you achieve peace and mental clarity, the ultimate benefit of meditating.
14. Follow guided meditation.
Guided meditation is an excellent place to start for beginners. It is especially helpful for individuals who find it tough to try new activities without a teacher. Guided meditations walk you through the whole process, making you feel like you didn’t do anything aside from listening. You’ll slow your mind down by listening to another person guiding you, which lessens your anxiety about the whole thing. It also keeps you from overthinking because you rely on a trusted guide, helping you let go and focus.
15. Smile when your session ends.
You may roll your eyes or cringe, but it’s good to smile at the end of your meditation. It proves that you’re able to accomplish something for the day, and that’s a good enough reason to be happy. Smiling will influence your mood, which in turn helps you gain emotional balance. Committing to meditating for several minutes each day, and trying to improve your spirit is a joyful activity.
Here are some best sellers, guides and books on meditation that you may find useful. These are links to Amazon.
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday
- Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You by Benjamin W. Decker
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday by Matthew Sockolov
- Meditation Now: A Beginner’s Guide: 10-Minute Meditations to Restore Calm and Joy Anytime, Anywhere by Elizabeth Reninger
Apps for Meditation
For the digital natives, here are a few good apps you can get started with meditation.