Meditation has been around for (literally) thousands of years, but it’s also been pretty trendy throughout the last decade. You’ve probably heard some of your favorite celebrities and thought leaders talk about their personal experiences with a meditation practice. Maybe you even know a few people who have tried it out.
While meditation has become more mainstream in recent years, it can still feel a little overwhelming for rookies to approach. Where should one even begin?
If you’ve been curious about meditation and how it can benefit your life—but haven’t been sure of the best way to try it out yourself—you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about meditation for beginners.
Meditation for Beginners: How to Get Started
Here are a few simple steps you can take to explore a meditation practice.
Step 1: Commit to Making the Time
Like most things, meditation requires a basic time commitment. Some people liken it to a workout for your brain—and that muscle will only get stronger if you make meditation part of your routine.
Start small with just a few minutes at a time, ideally every day. If you can’t commit to making meditation a daily habit, see if you can block out the time in your schedule four or five times a week.
In any case, consider what time of day you can make yourself most consistently available to meditate. Many people practice meditation first thing in the morning before they get distracted by other things. You can always set your alarm 10 to 20 minutes earlier than usual to make that happen! You might also consider setting aside 15 minutes right before you go to bed. Another great technique for scheduling meditation? Pairing it with another habit you prioritize every day, such as brushing your teeth or washing the dishes.
There’s really no right or wrong time to tackle meditation for beginners. The key is to simply pick any time that you can show up for on a daily—or near-daily—basis.
Step 2: Choose Your Meditation
Just as there’s no “right” time to meditate, there’s not really a “right” place to do it either. Here are a few places that beginners might consider practicing meditation:
- Upright in a chair
- On the floor
- On a cushion
- On a bench
The key is the correct posture: sitting up with a straight back, relaxed neck, chin slightly tucked in, and hands resting loosely on your lap or knees. Forget all of the stereotypical images of what you think meditation is supposed to look like and simply find a place where you can assume this posture comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch. Sitting in the same place every time you meditate will help you make meditation a habit.
Step 3: Observe Your Body and Breath
Once you’re comfortable in your meditation spot and posture, it’s time to simply settle in and begin to pay attention to your breath and body. Notice the way your body is arranged and the way that position feels to you. Focusing on your physical body is a great first step to focusing on your breath.
Begin to follow your breath as it goes in and out. Meditation is meant to hone your attention away from all of the distractions of everyday life. Redirecting your attention to your breath is one of the most common meditation techniques for beginners since it’s something everyone can access.
Step 4: Notice When Your Mind Has Wandered
It’s perfectly natural for your brain to wander away from your breath—especially if you’re brand new to meditation. What’s important is that you are attentive to your wandering thoughts and that you redirect them to your breath when necessary.
When you feel your mind wandering, don’t panic! Instead, refocus on your breath coming in and out. Do this as many times as you need to in the 10 to 15 minutes you’ve set aside to meditate. It requires patience and might feel frustrating, but meditation is all about training your brain. Over time, it will come more easily.
That’s it! That’s meditation! Practice this process consistently throughout the week and see how much more natural it feels. You’ll also begin to feel the benefits… but more on that below.
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The above step-by-step might make meditation sound easy, but it really does take practice. In fact, many people give it a try but aren’t able to truly adopt it as a personal ritual.
If you want to ensure that meditation remains part of your daily life, there are a few meditations tips for beginners that might help.
You already read about the importance of committing the time to regular meditation. Set yourself up for success by actually writing down blocks of time for meditation in your calendar or programming an alarm on your phone for meditation time. It’s all about making a date with yourself! If you prioritize meditation the way you would a work commitment or time with a friend, you’re more likely to actually do it.
Try a Meditation App
You’re used to using apps for plenty of other things in your life. Why not add meditation to the list?
There are lots of meditation for beginners apps, including Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and Buddhify. Apps provide different meditations targeted for various needs, including challenges with sleep, stress, and anxiety. They can teach you about different types of meditation, such as chakras meditation for beginners. Plus, a guided meditation for beginners like the ones you’ll find on these platforms might feel more approachable to you than simply sitting down and… meditating.
Check Out a Meditation Retreat
If you really want to jump into a meditation practice with both feet, consider researching a meditation retreat for beginners. Retreats like this will give you a chance to meet others who are interested in mindfulness practices and to learn from people who have more experience meditating. Plus, they can take you to some pretty cool places!
A meditation retreat is probably best for someone who has at least dipped their toe into the meditation pool already. If you haven’t even attempted meditation yet, you might want to experiment with some of the simpler steps above before you go all-in on a retreat.
Some days, meditating will come more easily than others. It’s helpful to go into every meditation session with reasonable expectations, knowing that you might struggle to keep your mind from wandering. This is an important meditation technique, since frustration can all too easily discourage people from pursuing meditation regularly.
If you struggle to focus during a given meditation practice—or 10!—don’t be hard on yourself. Show up again the next day and give it another try.
There are so many great resources out there for people who are interested in exploring mindfulness. Soak them in! Whether you’re taking a class about mindful breathing or checking out meditation books for beginners, you’ll walk away with valuable information that will inspire you to keep going in your new meditation practice, even on the days when you feel tempted to watch TV instead of meditating.
The Benefits of a Meditation Practice
Start your continuing meditation education right here, by reading on for a few of the most common benefits of meditating. Reminding yourself of these benefits will help you stick to meditation, even on the days when you don’t feel like it.
Here are a few benefits of a meditation practice, according to Healthline:
- It reduces stress. Many studies have proven the connection between regular meditation and reduced stress. Research also shows that meditation can improve the symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as IBS and PTSD.
- It can help manage anxiety. For many people, less stress also means less anxiety. In some studies, meditation had the greatest impact on the people who also had the most anxiety. If you’ve been feeling especially anxious lately, meditation just might be up for the job!
- It increases attention span. When you practice focusing your attention regularly through meditation, you will be able to more intentionally direct your attention even when you’re not meditating. Do you struggle to stay focused in conversation or while working on tasks for your job? Meditation can help.
- It may increase memory loss. Over time, many people suffer memory loss, simply as a side effect of aging. Meditation has proven to improve overall clarity of thought and, therefore, to alleviate that memory loss.
- It can improve sleep. Sleep is absolutely critical for health—and anyone who isn’t getting it knows all too well the serious impact that insomnia can have. Studies have found that meditation promotes longer stretches of sleep and makes it easier for people to fall asleep.
- It helps with pain management. The way you experience pain is connected to your brain, which is why you might feel more pain when you’re stressed out. Therefore, if you’re able to alleviate your stress through meditation, you may be better able to manage chronic pain.
- It may decrease blood pressure. Studies have demonstrated that people who participate in meditation experience reduced blood pressure, which can improve overall physical health and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
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