There is no doubt that meditation is good for you, but if you’re just starting out, the thought of sitting in complete silence try to reach a zen state can be daunting. Not to mention, the thought of actually finding the time to unplug from the demands of contemporary life for some peace and quiet. If you crave harmony, inner peace and don’t know where to start, we’re here to help, with the five best meditation techniques for beginners.
What Are The Benefits Of Meditation?
Ask anyone who’s been meditating for years what they like about it and they will most likely, tell you that it’s the number one thing they can rely on to feel good. If you’re new to practicing, it’s almost difficult to grasp just how many benefits that spiritual meditation can offer you. Just a few of the proven benefits are….
- Regulates and balances your mood, improving happiness and lowering, stress, anxiety and depression.
- Encourages, deeper and more restful sleep.
- Builds connection and intuition to yourself and the divine.
- Increased sense of love and compassion for yourself and others.
- Improved circulatory and cardiovascular system
- The ability quiet negative “mind chatter” aka the “monkey mind” and tap into a deep feeling of inner peace.
- Improved focus, memory and cognitive recall.
- Slows down the aging process
- Enhances the immune system, supports and improves mental, emotional and physical healing.
- And many, many others…
What Exactly Is Meditation?
It can be done anywhere, any time and in any form- eyes closed or open, you can be sitting, standing, walking or lying down. You can be listening to music or a guided meditation. You can use chants, mantras or mala beads in your practice.
Everyone can do it and anyone can reap benefits from it.
Meditation styles can be broken down into two main groups:
In this style you concentrate your attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. You may direct your focus on an object, breathing, a word or a phrase, or simply paying attention to the present moment.
For many people new to practicing, this method can feel easier than trying to completely clear your mind or focus on nothing at all.
This practice is often used by more experienced meditators (though anyone can do it) and builds upon the foundation of attention cultivated in a focused attention practice. It encourages awareness, and can include all aspects of your thoughts and environment, without reacting or following your train of thought.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique
First let’s just get clear, there is no right choice or wrong choice that you can make here. It’s important to do what works for you and try whichever method you are most drawn to that seems like a good fit. Then be open, and curious about your choice. This can help you sustain and push you past any roadblocks you might have when first starting out.
Remember, that anything new that you start is going to feel a little bit awkward at first, so give it a bit of time and be open to experimenting to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Many people experience benefits within a few days but the biggest benefits will develop over time.
How Long Should You Meditate For?
Start with just two minutes, and work your way up from there. It will seem easy and that’s great start! Do it for a few days and if that goes well, increase it to 5 then 7, then 10 etc. Experiment with what works best for you. You’ll find it easier the more you do it.
When you’re just starting out sitting still, even for a few minutes, can seem like forever so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. One of my all-time favorite analogies on learning how to meditate is from master teacher, Jack Kornfield, author of Meditation for Beginners and A Path With Heart.
To steady and focus the mind takes kindness and patience. Monitoring your thoughts is like training a puppy. You say ‘stay’ but after a few breaths, the puppy wanders away. You go back and gently pick it up and bring it back.” – Jack Cornfield
There is no rush, be kind and compassionate with yourself, with daily practice, you will get there. There are also many helpful tools that can support you strengthen your practice as you go. If you want to learn more, read our guide to the best meditation cushion sets here.
When should I meditate?
Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, however you will need to set aside the time and space for it. Most people find that making it part of their morning routine to be the easiest way to keep a daily and consistent practice.
Here Are The 5 Easy Meditation Techniques For Beginners
1. Mindful Breathing Meditation
This is one of the most popular forms of meditation and is easy to learn. This is also usually the first type of meditation I suggest to someone just starting their practice.
At its core, mindfulness is all about exploring the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and observing, over reacting to what is going on around us at any given time.
Simply put, you’re just noticing, you aren’t trying to get anywhere. You’re not trying to do anything. It’s bringing a non-judgemental awareness to what you’re currently experiencing through your senses, your mind, your thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness can be anything that you want to bring awareness and presence to and it can be practiced walking, breathing, eating or anything that is body or senses related.
When done regularly and with focus this can be a deeply, healing and nourishing form of meditation.
As it lets you just simply be.
How To Start Your Mindfulness Meditation
1. Set aside some time and space in your day. You don’t need any sort of special equipment to access mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time for your practice. You can do it anytime of day however, many people find first thing in the morning ideal.
2. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed or will have the least possible distractions.
3. Next, find a comfortable sitting position that is stable, solid and comfortable. You can sit on a chair, cushion or bench, but try to sit up straight and maintain that alignment without being super rigid about it.
If you’re using a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If you’re on a chair, sit towards the edge so the bottoms of your feet are on the floor.
4. Breath in and out deeply through your nose. Gently let your eyes close, your shoulders relax and your arms soften.
5. Become present in the moment. Become aware of your breath and observe the present moment, as it is. Don’t try to control your breathing or thoughts, just observe and let your body and mind calm naturally.
Remember that, the practice of mindfulness is not to completely empty your mind of thoughts or attempt to achieve a state of deep Zen. It’s simply to to pay attention to the present moment, and observe without judgment.
6. Acknowledge your thoughts and release any judgement. Know that things will come up, just note them then let them pass by. Understand that this is normal, don’t worry that you are doing anything wrong. Be kind to your wandering mind.
7. Keep returning to your breath. Mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again to the present moment.
That’s it really , it’s simple, thought not necessarily easy when you first learn. This is why it’s called a practice and with continued use you’ll should find it getting easier within a week or two.
2. Walking Meditation
This is another meditation based on the principles of mindfulness and is simple to learn and do. This is good for beginners or for anyone who has trouble sitting calmly. It can also be a bridge to a regular sitting meditation. With regular use, it can give you a feeling of a deeper connection to the world, as you move through your day to day life.
- Just like described in the sitting meditation above, its best to start your walking meditation in a quiet and peaceful time and place.
- Start walking at a natural pace.
- Notice your breath, notice how your steps hit the ground.
- Feel your foot as hits the ground, feel it as it rolls up lifting your toes as you step.
- Tune in to your body and anytime your mind starts to wander redirect your thoughts to your breath and your steps.
3. Guided Meditations
Guided Meditations are another focused form of practice that have been more become more popular in recent years. A guided meditation is a great place for beginners to start or for anyone who struggles with sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time.
A guided meditation can be led by another person for example in a class or through a recording or app. Since we live in a world of constant distractions and notifications demanding our attention, having some direction can actually help you stick with your practice and give you a reason to meditate.
If you’re curious about exploring a guided meditation practice, then check out this list from the Purpose Fairy.
4. Loving-kindness (Metta) Meditation
Loving kindness meditation also known as Metta was taught by the Buddha and is, in many ways, a spiritual path all in itself. It’s all about opening up the heart and cultivating the four qualities of love: friendliness (Metta), compassion (Karuna), appreciative joy (Mudita), and equanimity (Upekkha) for ourselves and others.
This is a foundational practice that the more you do it, will open up the world and connect you with other living beings in a way that few things can. Metta has also been been studied extensively in regards to its many proven benefits.
How To Do Metta (Loving-Kindness) Meditation
Metta is easy to do and can be adjusted and adapted to your preferences. The general idea is, as you sit, you connect with your heart and send loving thoughts outward to yourself and others.
To do this, it’s suggested that you start with a repeating a mantra over and over. It can be helpful to visualize a happy moment you’ve experienced, and call up loving feelings before you begin.
A typical mantra that you might use is:
“May they be well. May they be happy.
May they be healthy. May they be at peace.
May they be free from pain and suffering.”
Get still, breathe open your heart and direct your love and good-will towards:
- First: yourself
- Second: Someone that has shown you caring or kindness
- Third: A friend or family member
- Fourth: Someone neutral, that you feel no feelings towards
- Fifth: A person you actively dislike
- Sixth: All beings alive on the planet
1. Get in a comfortable, position and breathe in and out deeply.
2. Create connection and hold the image of the person in your mind.
3. Get into your heart. Call up feelings of goodwill and love as you chant your mantra.
4. Send Out Love. Imagine sending those feelings outward, towards the person.
5. Transfer your feelings. Imagine, that love extending to the next person and so on.
The more frequently you practice metta, the more joy, happiness and connection you’ll feel on a regular basis.
5. Binaural Beats Meditation
This style of meditation is a relatively new development and can be helpful for the beginner, as it quickly, drops you into a deep meditative state. Just like chanting a mantra, this gives your mind something to relax and focus on.
Meditation works by slowing down the electrical impulses in your brain, allowing you to think clearer. Binaural beats are designed to help you achieve this by playing two slightly different frequencies of sound into each ear. Which when listened to, your brain then syncs up with it slowing down to the correct pace.
Once your brain aligns, you’re able to reach a meditative state deeper, faster and easier. It’s important to note that you must wear headphones to get the benefits. As different tones are played into each ear, are what will affect each brain hemisphere separately. An result that cannot be achieved when listening in stereo.
At the end of the day…
No matter which method you choose, provided you pick and stick with the one that best fits you, you should be able to notice the benefits of daily meditation practice within a short period of time.
We hope that these meditation techniques for beginners support on your journey to living a more mindful life. There’s no telling where your practice will take you, but one thing is for sure, living a more peaceful life is a vital step towards living a life of greater harmony, happiness, and freedom.
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