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Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, yet it’s become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to its many benefits. Meditation can have profound effects on both your physical and mental health, from improving focus and concentration to reducing stress levels and anxiety.
As a meditation beginner, you may be wondering how to start meditating. Fortunately, meditation can be done in a variety of ways and doesn’t require any special equipment or instruction. Here are some tips to help you begin your meditation journey.
Can You Teach Yourself to Meditate?
Yes, you can absolutely teach yourself to meditate. Many beginner meditators find success with self-guided meditations and apps, such as Headspace or Calm. Self-guided meditations only require that you have the patience and dedication to daily meditation practice, without requiring any external instruction from meditation teachers. However, if you are looking for more intensive guidance, then working with a meditation teacher can be beneficial.
Benefits of Having a Meditation Practice
Relaxation is often the end result of meditation. The term “relaxation response” was coined after research found that individuals who practice meditation had “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” Since then, numerous studies on the relaxation response found and documented benefits such as lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, increased blood circulation, less perspiration, and more.
Meditation has a plethora of health benefits, both physical and mental. Physically, meditation is helpful in reducing stress-related conditions such as headaches and muscle tension. Mentally, meditation brings good feelings as it helps boost mood and improve focus and concentration.
Studies have also shown that regular meditation practice can even help to regulate blood pressure and improve the body’s overall immunity. Additionally, meditation exercises have been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as help with insomnia.
Common Meditation Techniques
There are a variety of meditation techniques available to practice, and the best way to find one that works for you is to experiment. Here are some of the most common meditation techniques:
Concentration meditation requires focusing your attention on one object, such as the sound of your breath or a mantra. This practice helps to cultivate mental clarity and strengthen the mind’s ability to stay in the present moment without being distracted by external events. In this practice, if your attention wanders off, you simply focus back on the chosen object of your meditation.
Focusing the mind on one thing can be a challenging meditation for beginners. It’s recommended that newbies do this technique for only a few minutes at first. Then, they can work up to longer durations.
Mindfulness meditation encourages practitioners to observe their thoughts and emotions in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness meditation is said to cultivate self-awareness and increase mental resilience, allowing you to respond to life’s challenges with greater maturity and patience.
Guided meditation is a practice that is guided by an external source, such as an instructor or recording. This type of meditation helps beginners learn the basic meditations, and can be tailored to fit your specific needs.
Guided exercises generally involve following visualizations and breathing exercises, which can help to focus the mind and keep you in the present moment. This type of meditation is a great way to get started with your practice and gain an understanding of the basics before diving into unguided meditations.
Body Scan Meditation
This meditation practice involves systematically scanning your body in order to become aware of any physical sensations or areas of tension. It helps to cultivate awareness and relaxation, as you learn to let go of any unconscious physical or mental tension. This meditation exercise can be done while lying down, making it a great way for beginners to get comfortable with meditation.
Transcendental meditation is a specific form of meditation that involves repeating a mantra or sound in order to reach an inner state of stillness and peace. This type of meditation has been practiced for centuries and its benefits have been widely studied, with research showing it can help reduce stress, reduce burnout, improve concentration, and even increase creativity.
How Long Should a Beginner Meditate?
When you first begin meditating, it may be difficult to keep your own mind wandering. Since you’re just starting out, it’s recommended to take it slow to help you build your focus. Start off with just a few minutes each day for a week. Many meditation apps offer small moments of meditation practices to get you started and help you to become comfortable with the process.
As you grow in your practice, longer periods can be beneficial and can help to encourage longer attention spans and deeper levels of relaxation. Finding a comfortable routine for you is key, as it’s important to stay consistent in order to cultivate long-term benefits from your meditation practice. Listen to your intuition and always remember that there is no right or wrong way to meditate; be gentle with yourself and enjoy the journey to a better well-being.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
Meditating is more than just closing your eyes and humming a one-note tune. It involves paying attention, taking deep breaths, bringing awareness to body sensations, and more. Learn how to meditate more effectively by following the tips below!
Find a Quiet and Comfortable Place
Begin by finding a quiet space without distractions where you can practice in peace. You may want to find an outdoor spot if possible, as nature can be an amazing ally in helping you to relax. You may also just want to stay in your room if that is where you are comfortable.
Sit in a Position That Feels Good
Many individuals and practitioners choose to sit in a comfortable position when meditating. Make sure you are relaxed and able to sit still for the duration of your meditation session. You can sit yourself down in a comfortable chair or use a meditation cushion that allows you to sit on the ground while meditating.
Meditate for Short Periods at First
Long stints of meditation can be difficult, especially for beginners. Start with short, small sessions at first to help you stay focused and slowly work your way up to doing longer ones. This can improve your mindfulness and help your body get used to it as well.
You can start with simple, basic exercises as well so as to not overwhelm yourself. For example, beginners usually start with sitting meditation as it is the easiest one but if you find that it doesn’t work for you, you can try other simple exercises instead.
Focus Your Attention On Your Breath or Mantra
If your mind wanders during practice, gently bring your focus back to your breath or mantra. This can help you become aware of your thoughts, bringing your wandering mind back to the center without getting caught up in them.
For example, if you find yourself thinking about how many minutes have passed, simply take a deep breath and notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Pay attention to your breath but don’t control the pace or intensity. If your mind wanders again, take a deep breath once more and repeat the steps.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
After practice, take a few moments to reflect on the experience and any emotions that may have come up. For example, you may feel happy after a session, but there may also be times when you feel down after meditating.
It’s important to acknowledge anything that you feel after a session. This can help you begin to recognize patterns in your thoughts and feelings and begin to understand yourself better.
Be Kind To Yourself
Make sure to be patient with yourself, as meditation is a journey and it may take some time to begin to feel the benefits. The beginning will be difficult and you may feel like it’s not doing anything for you but when you commit to a routine, you’ll see the benefits of it in your daily life in the long run.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the process; meditation can be a great way to connect with yourself and your environment. Enjoy the peace and relaxation of the practice, and remember that every moment is an opportunity for growth!
Meditation is a powerful practice that is a form of self-care and is helpful in cultivating a person’s mental well-being and self-awareness. Start your journey today by finding the type of meditation that works best for you, and start to reap the benefits of this ancient practice in your everyday life.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate; be kind to yourself and enjoy the adventure!