A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

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If there is one thing the world needs right now amid the rising economic and health crisis is meditation. Several studies have revealed how the global lockdown has led to a significant rise in cases of anxiety, depression and stress. Taking on each day has become more of an arduous task. The best way to sail through the stress of the pandemic and the work-from-home burnout is by practicing mindfulness and meditation.

Sitting in a quiet corner, connecting with your inner-self isn’t something only left for the Buddhist monks. In fact, meditation is something anyone can do. There are a myriad health and well-being benefits.

Owing to the extraordinary times we live in; meditation is the coping mechanism we all need. If you’re wondering how to mediate, you’re not alone. In our beginner’s guide, we aim at covering meditation benefits, and useful tips and techniques that will boost your mental health, improve your mood and enhance your overall well-being.

Let’s get started!

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a concept in which an individual uses a specific technique to train his/her senses and become more aware of oneself. There are various techniques to stay focused and achieve inner peace, mental clarity and emotional stability. It also allows you to be more present and fully alert while keeping your mind carefree.

Types of Meditation

For most beginners, meditation simply means sitting in a room with their legs folded. Many people even mistake it to be yoga. In reality, mediation and mindfulness is a part of the yoga lifestyle. Both these concepts aim at controlling the thought process and relaxing the mind completely. Before you start with meditation, it’s nice to be familiar with the different types. Though all these forms of meditation have the same goal, they differ in the way they’re performed.

  • Mindfulness Meditation: As the name implies, in this form of meditation, you need to focus your attention on your thoughts as they pass through your mind. It is a kind of guided meditation in which the person is asked to observe each thought. It helps in achieving a greater sense of awareness.
  • Movement Meditation: This form of meditation involves meditating by performing a movement or activity. Meditation does not always have to be in a still position. Yoga, walking, dancing and cleaning are all forms of movement meditation. This type of meditation is ideal for people who find it difficult staying in one position. To achieve great results, it is important for the person to be fully mindful during the activity.
  • Chanting Meditation: Also referred to as mantra meditation, this is a practice in which the people in meditation repeat sacred mantras, chants and phrases such as “Om Namah Shivaya” or “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” to reach a deeper level of awareness. This form of meditation is quite popular in Hindu and Buddhist traditions respectively. It can be regarded as both meditation and prayer.
  • Focused/Concentration Meditation: For anyone looking to improve their attention or focus, this form of meditation is ideal. In this practice, you’re asked to focus on a single point or pattern such as your breath, exterior sound or physical object. Through repeatedly staring at something, your mind begins to wander thereby letting go of all the worries and troubles.

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Meditation Guide for Beginners

As you prepare yourself to meditate, the first thing you must understand is that anyone can meditate. Meditation isn’t something only monks and yogis do. Even business tycoons meditate in order to keep their minds clear and improve productivity. However, before you start, you need to keep a few things in mind. Your surroundings play a vital role in helping you reach maximum awareness. As they say, practice improves progress.

  • Start your Practice without Expectations

Remember, meditation isn’t a quick fix to solve all your problems. It’s not that you start meditating and all your issues will vanish overnight. Like any other form of exercise or practice, meditation takes time to show results. To reap the benefits, you will have to practice regularly with utmost concentration. Approach each meditation session as a new opportunity to get to know yourself better.

  • Choose the Right Time & Place

Always remember, with meditation, consistency is key. When you choose an ideal meditation spot and fix a time slot, it is easier to establish the practice as a habit. This will also motivate you to meditate each day. Most people tend to choose a clean, quiet corner in their home which will allow them to become more aware of themselves. Also, the best time to meditate is shortly after waking up in the morning. This will allow your mind to be more relaxed and you will also find it easier to stay focused on various things through the day.

  • Warm-up before you Start

Jumping right into meditation after you wake up or after a hectic meeting isn’t the best idea. Experts and meditation practitioners suggest that before starting a session, warm-up for at least five minutes. This will regulate the blood flow throughout the body and you’re more likely to feel relaxed. Once you’ve calmed down, start your practice. This will help you focus clearly without thinking about work or any other personal issue.

  • Posture is Key

A common misconception people have about meditation is that it requires one to sit with their legs folded and fingers pointed upwards. Well, that’s far from the norm. You can sit the way you like provided it’s comfortable, keeps your spine erect and straight, and does not distract you. Body posture plays a vital role in your thinking and concentration. You could also use a cushion on the floor or a chair to meditate.

  • You Decide the Duration

There are no hard and fast rules with meditation. No book or resource says that you need to meditate for 20 or 30 minutes. As a beginner, you might find even five minutes difficult. However, always start with meditating for five to seven minutes and work your way up from there. Even if you get bored on day one, come back the next day. Meditation becomes a habit only when you practice regularly and create a routine.

  • Guided Meditation

As a beginner, if you’re finding it hard to meditate on your own, you could also seek guided meditation. There are several experts that will help you meditate better. You could join online classes or look for meditation videos on YouTube. In these guided sessions, experts usually help in creating the ideal environment for you to meditate peacefully. There are also several meditation apps you can download such as Headspace, Calm, Sattva, The Mindfulness App, Simple Habit and Ten Percent Happier.

  • Put on Relaxing Music

To play a soothing instrumental track in the background is completely your choice. Although a lot of instructors are against this practice as they believe meditation is something that should be practiced in silence, the choice is yours. If it helps you achieve a calm state of mind, you can play some zen music.

  • Breathe Normally & Stay Mindful

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s not something somebody has to teach you. It’s all about focusing on your breath and being aware of yourself. Inhale and exhale normally and stay focused. Breathe normally through your nose with your mouth closed. It’s up to you if you want to keep your eyes open or closed. In case of visualisation meditation, you’re asked to keep your eyes closed to visualise a positive scene or image. Whatever type of meditation you practice, don’t make an effort to control your breath. Simply breathe naturally.

Once you understand the process and free yourself from distractions, you will realise the myriad benefits of meditation.

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How Meditation can Improve Mental Well-Being?

In the hustle-bustle of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, everybody is seeking inner peace. When you meditate, you attain emotional, physical and mental well-being. Owing to the trying times we’re living in; meditation is definitely the answer to improve mental health. Here’s how:

  • Reduces stress: When you start meditating on a regular basis, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in your stress levels. The production of cortisol in the body is replaced by serotonin (a mood-enhancing chemical).
  • Enhances self-esteem: Those who meditate regularly have the power to control their thoughts and emotions. Hence, experts suggest starting your day with meditation. It reenergises you, helps you grow confidence and builds a positive self-esteem.
  • Makes you Optimistic: Inner peace, calmness and free-flowing energy are all by-products of meditation. When you feel good from the inside, it automatically shows on the outside. It helps you tackle every new day with optimism.

Consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits. As a beginner, it is worth exploring the many different forms of meditation. Though it is a rigorous process that requires dedicated time and energy, the results you achieve are limitless and exceptional. Practice 10-minute meditation daily and you’ll see a visible difference one week later. You can even make an activity out of it by involving family and friends.

Happy Meditating!

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