Meditation is a popular technique for calming the mind and alleviating stress. It can also be used to improve focus, sleep quality, creativity, and more. However, it's hard to start meditating if you don't know how or why. This meditation practice guide will help you learn about what meditation is (and isn't), how to find your Zen state of mind, and what benefits beginner mediation offers!
This guide will help you unlock the secrets of meditation, whether you've never tried it, or tried – and failed – a hundred times.
So, what is meditation? And how can you reap the benefits without going up a mountain for 40 days and nights?
Meditation can be many things to many people. Some meditate by clearing their mind and focusing on a single thought (known as mindfulness). Others focus on feeling present in each moment, away from thoughts of past or future concerns. Then there are those who find their zen through chanting, walking, or even running.
Whatever your chosen form of meditation is, we've got ideas for how to help you establish a good habit and feel better. So without further adieu, let's get into it!
The Benefits Of Meditation
Meditation is really just taming your brain so that you can be in the present moment. Meditation for beginners can seem really intimidating, but a daily meditation practice can yield immediate benefits for whatever you're going through.
Meditation For Stress and Anxiety
When we feel overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, our body releases cortisol – the hormone that puts us in a state of fight-or-flight. A short guided meditation can help calm down this response and help us avoid actual panic. It's not bulletproof, but even a simple mantra meditation can help us ease stress when we're feeling under pressure.
Regular meditation practice is the key to managing stress and anxiety. Meditation practices have been verified by science – as early as 1978, we were studying the benefits of meditation for anxiety.
Meditation For Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is no fun. After the opiate crisis, it became a lot more challenging for people with chronic pain to get access to their medication. As a result, some have turned to meditation to help them manage their chronic pain, stress levels, and even sleep quality.
Researchers found significant reductions in present-moment pain, negative body image, and more when they introduced chronic pain sufferers to mindfulness meditation. A regular practice of meditation can reduce stress and help chronic pain sufferers deal with the struggles of daily life.
Meditation With ADHD
When you had an attention disorder, it's really easy for your mind to wander. Many people with ADD or ADHD feel like mindfulness meditation practices are out of reach for them. But in reality, learning to practice meditation can help even the most distracted person deal with the physical sensations that life is sending them. Mindfulness techniques have concrete benefits for taming all the outer chaos that our minds can bring.
Formal meditation can be a great complement to medication for managing your attention disorder. And, practicing mindfulness carries none of the risks that many stimulant medications (like Adderal or Vyvanse) do. Anyone can begin meditating with just a little bit of knowledge and patience with their own mind.
Basic Meditation Techniques
Now that we've covered the benefits of meditation, it's time to talk about the different meditation techniques that you can use to connect to your present moment. The fun thing about meditation is that you get to choose what you want your meditation session to look like – do you want to use a guided meditation, or do you want to just do some breathing exercises? Use one of the many meditation apps out there? Or connect with a real, live, meditation teacher? There are so many different options. Here are a few easy ways to start your meditation journey.
At the heart of most meditation practice is cultivating a sense of mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is really just about being aware: of your body, of your breathing, and of the world around you. When your mind wanders, just gently bring it back. Mindfulness meditation helps calm your nervous system; it helps you find the stillness amid the chaos of life.
Most meditation exercises, especially those on apps, incorporate some sense of mindfulness into the practice. They'll ask you to take a deep breath, and try to stay focused on the sensation of breathing, even if just for a few moments. You'll bring awareness to your body and try to ease your wandering mind.
Because this is the classic meditation, it's often the most common meditation for beginners. It can also be difficult for beginners to undertake. Beginners report their mind wandering, and some even fall asleep. If you struggle, don't worry – there is no “bad” meditation. It's simply more challenging some days. Some of the other types of meditation might suit you better than mindfulness meditation at first. Mindfulness meditation is also used in many guided meditations.
Meditation With Movement
If you can't sit sill, walking meditation might be for you. Walking meditation is a way to try and find the “runner's high” in your day to day life. It can help you bring mindfulness into your daily activities, and it helps develop focus.
Most classes will ask you to set aside ten to fifteen minutes for your walking practice; because this type of meditations roots itself in the present moment, it's important that we keep our time constrained. If you walk for too long – or exercise in whatever way – you run the risk of losing focus on your body and being aware of your surroundings. Paying attention can be exhausting, so start small. Walking meditation is also great for guided meditations.
Body Scan Meditation
Many guided meditations fall into this category of meditation: body scan meditation. Body scanning is when you become very aware of your body and all of the things that are happening to it. You feel all of your deep breaths, you sit straight, and you simply focus on how your body feels.
A body scan is a great way for you to check in with yourself when you're having difficult emotions or life circumstances. It's a great reliever when you're struggling with mental health. And, the simple practice of body scanning can help you meditate even when you only have a little while to simply sit and relax.
Transcendental meditation is the kind of meditation that seems most mystical and really grew to popularity in the 1970s. With transcendental meditation, you're often focused on a mantra or short phrase, repeating it over and over again. This type of meditation is often a sitting meditation, and has many challenges for people who can't sit still. But this type of meditation brings relief to people as well, so don't count it out. It's just a more advanced technique.
Starting A Meditation Practice
So – now that we've reviewed various types of meditation exercise, it's time for you to commit and give something a try. Meditate, even with all its challenges. Even five minutes a day can bring real improvements to your quality of life. Bringing awareness to your body can help you monitor your body – and maybe even lower your blood pressure.
There are a thousand apps and courses out there to help you meditate. You can pick whatever pleases you most. You can buy the fanciest meditation cushion known to man. But when your mind wanders, turn to your meditation techniques to help you improve your concentration and focus. Here are some tips for putting “meditate” first on your schedule.
Commitment Without Guilt
Many people who attempt New Years Resolutions do so with a large sense of guilt and shame attached. They start the year off telling themselves that if they can't practice enough, they're a failure. That's not fair to yourself – so don't do it.
Commit to a meditation practice, but don't use guilt and shame. Just build habits. If you fall off the bike, get right back on. It helps a lot of people to approach their practice in the same place and same way every time. But if this doesn't work for you – then keep it fresh and loose! Just like when you meditate, committing effectively is about knowing how your body and mind works, and then working with the flow, not against it.
Putting It On Your Schedule
Setting aside time for your meditation practice can be as simple as writing it down. After work? Meditate. Before your shower? Meditate. Whatever works best for you. Tweak it if you're not feeling it, but just keep going. Eventually, you'll find a way to meditate that works best for your lifestyle and mental health.
When you're starting a new meditation habit, it can be difficult to make time. We're so used to filling our days with endless tasks and errands that we don't even realize how much time we waste on things that don't really matter. But when it comes to our health, we just have to bite the bullet and make some time. To meditate is not to waste time however – be sure that you understand that. The benefits from when you meditate will echo out through the rest of your life.
Using An App To Keep Things Fresh
If your phone is too distracting, use it to your advantage. There are so many meditation apps out there, and they're really effective at making you feel like you have someone coaching you through the process. There's an app for beginner meditators all the way to advanced meditators – pick one that works for your beginner lifestyle!
We hope this guide has helped you develop your own meditation practice. You can use these tips on how to start a beginner meditation practice today.