There are many reasons why a person would want to start meditating. Maybe you have a lot of stress in your life, or perhaps you have a friend who has told you all about the benefits of meditation. Whatever your reason, there are many things that you should know before you start this practice.
Meditation is about staying connected to the present moment. You will usually focus on one particular thing, such as your breathing. There are many tips that can help you achieve the best state of mind as a beginner, such as meditating in the morning and even keeping your posture in mind.
Meditation comes with a variety of benefits, but it can be very challenging. Read on if you would like to find out more. This a guide to meditation for beginners will help you get started.
Meditation for beginners: Benefits of Meditation
Meditation comes with a variety of undeniable benefits. Suppose you start meditating and stay with it. In that case, you are likely to notice several physical and mental health improvements, as well as spiritual benefits.
Physical Benefits of meditation
There are many benefits to physical health that generally come with meditation. These include the following:
- Better cardiovascular health. People who meditate often experience lower cholesterol levels and decreased blood pressure. This also means less of a risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- Better immune system function. This means that you will have better resistance to illnesses, such as the flu and cold. Also, if you happen to get seriously ill, you are more likely to experience a positive outcome.
- Decreased anxiety symptoms. If you suffer from anxiety, you will likely experience less tingling and numbness, less tension in your muscles, and fewer panic attacks.
- Better athletic performance. When people meditate, they will report improvements in concentration, flexibility, and balance. This is true for both amateurs and professional athletes.
- Better sleep. You will generally have a more restful sleep and will have less of a difficult time falling asleep.
- More ability to handle physical dependency issues. If you have a substance abuse problem, you are likely to experience a quicker recovery that is also more likely to last when you meditate.
- Better ability to handle chronic pain. If you have a condition such as arthritis, you will experience greater resilience in handling it if you meditate.
- Less memory loss. Age-related memory loss is potentially not so severe if you regularly meditate.
Meditation can be one great tool to have in your arsenal if you are battling a mental health issue. Even if you don’t have a specific problem and just want to improve your emotional well-being, you can experience mental health benefits with this practice. Some of them are as follows:
- More ability to stay present. When you meditate, you will be able to maintain a better connection with the present moment, rather than ruminating about the past or obsessing about the future.
- Better ability to cope with stress. You will be able to deal with all kinds of stress more effectively, whether you are at home or at work.
- Decreased feelings of anxiety. This is partially due to drops in your respiration rate and heart rate that come with meditation. People who have PTSD also experience meditation benefits.
- Better concentration. When you meditate, your ability to focus on what you choose and dismiss any unwanted thoughts increases.
- Decreased depression symptoms. It has actually been shown that meditation is just as effective as medication when it comes to treating depression symptoms.
- Better emotional intelligence. Basically, you are better able to identify your own emotions, accept them, and handle them as you need to.
- Better ability to manage your relationships. You may find that you are more patient and thoughtful when you approach conflict with another person.
- Better ability to overcome phobias. These include fears that can interfere with one’s quality of life, such as a fear of open spaces.
- Increased self-knowledge. Meditation allows you to spend more time on self-reflection and really tune into who you are and your emotions, which really helps you get to know yourself better.
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
It makes sense that there are also spiritual benefits that come with meditation, given that it came about in the first place as a religious practice. However, even if you are not religious, you can still achieve spiritual fulfillment through meditation.
- Better ability to put things into perspective. When you meditate, you are more able to dismiss what is not important and focus on what is.
- More peace when it comes to your place in the big picture. When you meditate, you are able to better accept your own, relatively modest place in the universe. This will help you be less-tempted to live a life that is based on ego.
- A Better sense of purpose. When you meditate, your sense of your own purpose will be more well-defined. This will help you make better decisions when it comes to your career, relationships, and daily life.
- More compassion. You will have higher levels of empathy for other people and the ability to empathize with them. This is because of a higher sense of self-awareness and the ability to see the similarities between you and them.
- Feelings of unity. When you meditate, you will feel a unity between your body, mind, and spirit. You will feel more connected to your true self than ever before. You will also feel more connected to other people and the entire world. Sometimes, this is referred to as “oneness.”
- Better ability to accept yourself. Meditating will help you accept who you are, particularly the things about yourself that you’re not able to change.
- A stronger relationship with a higher power. If you are religious, you might feel a deeper connection with your higher power when you meditate.
What Is the Goal of Meditation?
Meditation is all about connecting with the present moment. It can help you become very grounded. What you will do during most meditations is simply sit up straight and keep still.
You will observe your surroundings, or a specific object of focus, allowing you to discover your ability to stay in the current moment rather than let yourself be carried away by unwanted and distracting thoughts.
When you are not letting your mind take you away with unwanted thoughts, you will be better able to connect with your own creativity and the thoughts and emotions that come from it.
When you meditate, you simply acknowledge these thoughts and emotions without really following the trains of thought into which they might normally lead you. Instead, you will let them go, no matter where they came from, without passing judgment.
Overall, meditation is supposed to really help calm you down. Over time, it will show you which of the thoughts and emotions in your mind are actually worthwhile. It will help you foster self-awareness and get in touch with the best parts of you. You will develop wonderful qualities through meditation and mindfulness that will help you be the best version of yourself.
How to Meditate
Meditation can be very challenging at first, but it can be easier if you observe the following steps.
Choose a Peaceful Environment
When you want to meditate, you should find a place that is nice and quiet. Ideally, it would help if you were sure that you won’t be disturbed for at least 15 minutes. When you find a good place to sit down, sit, relax, and put your hands on your lap.
If you are a beginner and just starting, you can sit, however you want. Just make sure it is comfortable for you. You can sit in the Lotus position on the floor with a cushion, as you have likely seen the meditation experts doing. However, if you are not comfortable with this, you can sit in a chair, with your feet on the ground. This is perfectly okay.
However you choose to sit, you need to make sure that you keep the natural curve of your back. You should sit as upright as you can and not slouch. A proper meditation pillow should be a must.
Once you are in position, gently close your eyes. Slowly look down with an unfocused gaze. Start by taking a few slow, deep breaths. If you can, inhale with your nose and exhale with your mouth. Breathe as naturally as possible, and don’t try to force any breathing patterns.
When you first start breathing, it is likely that your breathing will be shallow. However, as you keep doing the practice, you will likely let more air into your lungs each time. This will result in deeper and fuller breaths. Be patient with yourself, and take all the time you need to be able to breathe slowly and deeply.
Deep breathing will help you feel more relaxed in your meditation, which will be very helpful. Once you are more relaxed, you should focus attention on your breathing. In fact, breathing is a very common object to focus when meditating, particularly for beginners.
Be as aware as possible of every breath that comes in through your nose, as well as every breath that comes out through your mouth. Continue focusing on your breath for as long as you are able to do so.
If you find your attention drifting away from your breathing, do not be harsh with yourself. Simply bring your attention back to this object to focus. With beginners, it tends to happen often at times. It does not mean that you are not doing well.
What you need to remember to do is just realize that your mind has drifted, without judgment, and bring your attention back to your breath. As you continue to meditate and develop your abilities to focus, you will find it easier to continue focusing on your breath.
Some individuals will find it helpful to use numbers to count their breath. For example, you can count one for an inhale, and two for an exhale. You can repeat these numbers over and over again as you continue to inhale and exhale. This can help you concentrate on the numbers and your breath and get you into the right mindset when learning how to meditate.
Open Your Eyes and End the Session
When you are ready to finish your meditation practice, you can gently move your eyes open. Slowly stand up, stretch out, and give yourself the appropriate kudos for taking the time to do this. Ideally, you should be in a very serene and calm state. If not, however, do not judge yourself. Just tell yourself that you are going to try again next time.
How Long Should Beginners Meditate?
When you first begin to meditate, doing so for any amount of time can be quite challenging. It is probably a state of mind that you are not very used to at all. Generally, people are stressed out and consumed with worries about the past or the future. The first time you meditate, you might find yourself becoming restless and impatient, or possibly even bored.
There are several answers on how long a beginner should meditate. However, there is no one right answer that is going to work for everyone. Some experts will tell you that you should meditate for 10 minutes, while others will tell you that you should aim for 30 minutes.
What you should do is simply do what you are able to maintain. It would be great if you could sit and meditate for 30 minutes right off the bed, but there is a chance that this could be overwhelming. If you get overwhelmed very early on, you are more likely to quit.
You should then not push yourself too hard and start with the length of time that you know you will be able to handle on a daily basis. Once you are able to focus on your breathing for that length of time, you can slowly start increasing it.
Can You Meditate While Lying Down?
It is absolutely possible to meditate when you are lying down. However, it comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The most prominent advantage is comfort. Many people would like to lie down when they meditate solely because it is more comfortable than sitting.
After all, if you are more comfortable, you will be more able to relax and thus enter the state of mind that meditation requires. When you are relaxed, your mind is much more able to let go of unwanted thoughts. For a lot of people, sitting with their legs crossed can either be painful or cause their legs to fall asleep. It can also be uncomfortable for the back.
However, with the main advantage comes the main disadvantage. The big disadvantage of lying down when you are meditating is that you might actually relax a little bit too much and fall asleep. Most of the time, when you meditate, you are supposed to try to relax and focus, rather than fall asleep. Although sleep can be good, it is not typically the goal in meditation.
As with so many other aspects of meditation, it’s really about what works for you. If you find that you are better able to get into a calm, relaxed state of mind when you are lying down, meditation while lying down might be right for you. However, if you find that you are very likely to fall asleep if you are lying down and meditating, you might want to sit up instead.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
Since meditation can be very challenging, it definitely helps to have some tips and guidelines to follow. The following are some that may be helpful to you:
- Keep your posture in mind. If possible, while you’re meditating, you should make sure that your back is straight at all times. This will make it easier for you to gain focus.
- Meditate in the morning. If this works with your schedule, it will set a really good tone for the rest of your day. It might also be easier for you to meditate in the morning, since your mind will be more rested and receptive, having not yet been exposed to the hustle and bustle of the day.
- Don’t try to stop your thoughts. If you have distracting thoughts while trying to focus on your breathing, just let them float away. Keep in mind that it’s natural to be distracted. You should not shame yourself for this; just gently refocus yourself as soon as you notice that your thoughts have drifted.
- Find a quiet environment. If possible, you should meditate in a silent environment. When you have acquired more experience, you will be better able to meditate even with distracting noises, but beginners will likely do better with a minimal amount of distractions.
- Commit to practice. When you are a beginner in the world of meditation, you should commit to meditating for a minimum of one month. If you quit sooner than this, you are not very likely to develop the basic skills that you need or see the benefits that can come with meditation.
Types of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation. The following are a few of the broad categories:
Generally, when you start meditating, you should start with mindfulness meditation. It is the most common type of meditation that you will observe in Western countries, and it is probably the easiest one for a beginner. All of the instructions and tips above refer specifically to mindfulness meditation.
The act of mindfulness involves focusing all of your attention to the current moment. Whatever you happen to be doing, whether it is cooking, cleaning, or some specific mindfulness exercise, you should be focusing as much of your attention as possible on your current task rather than allowing your mind to wander.
Some individuals will call mindfulness Zen meditation as well. The practice has an origin in Buddhist traditions. The goal is to calm you down and simplify your thought patterns. Over time, the practice of mindfulness will change how you think in your daily life, even when you are not meditating.
Generally, mindfulness will help you live in the moment and be very aware of your thoughts and emotions without letting them overwhelm you.
Mindful Movement Meditation
Even though all of the instructions we have given you relate to meditation while sitting down, there is also a category of meditation that involves physical movement. These types of meditation are often referred to as mindful movement meditation.
Even if you are moving, it is very similar to sitting meditation because it’s still all about being connected and tuned in to what is happening in your body.
Yoga meditation is one great example of movement meditation. Here, you focus on your breathing and the movements of your body as you hold poses and transition between them. In any type of yoga meditation, you can help yourself by using your breathing to control your pace. This can help your thinking proceed in a deliberate and clear manner.
You can actually turn any type of movement into a meditative exercise, as long as you are able to fully focus on your movements while you are doing them.
The primary goal of spiritual meditation is to allow you to feel a connection with a higher power or something that is greater than your own being. For many people, this is going to be a religious experience.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. It can simply be about reminding yourself of your connection to everything else in the universe and reflecting on your ultimate purpose as a human being.
There are several different types of spiritual meditation. A common one is a transcendental meditation, which is silent but does include a mantra that you repeat over and over in your mind. You can practice this for up to 20 minutes every day.
The purpose of this exercise is to free your head from any unwanted thoughts, as your awareness will be tied to a simple sound or phrase that you are repeating mentally.
Vipassana meditation and chakra meditation are also types of spiritual meditation. Both of these will help you build your spiritual aspect and increase your awareness of and connection to the universe around you.
Vipassana meditation revolves around evening the connection between your body and mind. Chakra meditation is centered around different energy centers within your body; the prevailing belief is that focusing on these centers can help relieve people of certain physical, emotional, and mental blocks.
In visualization meditation, you really use your imagination to its fullest. You will create vivid mental images that represent certain goals that you have for meditation. Essentially, you picture something that you desire before you have actually received it, whether it be love, success, or something else.
One type of visualization meditation is Metta meditation, also known as loving-kindness meditation. Here, one possibility is to picture yourself radiating warm energy towards your loved ones.
A more challenging exercise within this type of meditation is to send that same type of energy to someone you do not necessarily love or even dislike. The overall goal is to develop compassion for every living being, making love your default approach to life.
During a guided meditation, there is another person guiding you through what you are supposed to focus on and visualize. Very commonly, this is done via a recording, although it can also be done in person.
One of the most common types of guided meditation is hypnosis meditation. Here, a hypnotherapy practitioner will help you achieve a very relaxed state and then assist you in rebuilding beliefs that limit you. This can be used as therapy for anxiety, for example.
Another type of guided meditation is sound bath meditation, which involves listening to sounds that are representative of a current location. Sometimes, it can be sounds of the ocean, while sometimes it is simply gentle music. At a certain place in the recording, a voice will start to guide your thoughts and what you should be focusing on.
Guided meditations are beneficial in that someone else is helping you retain your focus. This guide can help you return your attention to the current moment when it drifts and overall keeps you on the right track.
Meditation can be an incredibly satisfying and fulfilling practice. Even though it can be challenging, many of the people who have stayed with this practice will tell you that it is well worth it. One of the hardest parts of meditating can be getting through the beginning stages, where you are learning to focus your mind.
It is very important to remember to be kind and gentle with yourself, even if you are struggling with meditation at first. Struggling does not mean failure. As long as you continue to make an effort, you will observe the benefits at some point.