Are you thinking of starting a meditation practice but feel that you don’t know how? With all the information out there on meditation for beginners, it can feel pretty overwhelming and intimidating to start.
Maybe you’ve already tried to start a meditation practice and quickly became discouraged. If that’s the case, you’re not alone!
The good news is that ANYONE can learn how to meditate! It’s not complicated or only for monks!
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is a practice that is typically done alone, in a seated position, with the eyes closed (although it doesn’t have to be any of those things!).
There are MANY ways to meditate but the common thread is learning to work with the mind. Awareness, focus, and relaxation are key elements.
WHO IS MEDITATION FOR?
Medication is to the mind what exercise is to the body! EVERYONE! Absolutely ANYONE and EVERYONE can benefit from meditation.
Meditation is Hard
A big reason why meditation may seem hard is that we overcomplicate it. We try so hard to meditate the “right” way and get frustrated because we think we’re doing it wrong.
The truth is that there are MANY ways to meditate and it can be as simple as focusing on the breath.
You’re Mind Has to Be Quiet
This is a big source of frustration for meditation beginners!
However, It is inevitable that thoughts will arise. It’s totally normal! Even those who are experienced in meditation have thoughts come up.
When you notice thoughts arise gently redirect your attention back to your point of focus, such as your breath.
Even if you notice your thoughts racing during meditation you are still receiving the benefits so don’t give up!
Meditation Takes a Long Time
Not true! Meditation can be done with as little 2 minutes. A couple of minutes of meditation is better than none and can still produce benefits!
It Takes a Long Time to See and Feel the Benefits
The benefits can be felt immediately. Over time you may notice an overall increase in the benefits but even after the very first time, you can experience some. Isn’t that incredible?!
Check out this study done by Harvard demonstrating beneficial changes in the brain in only 8 weeks of starting a meditation practice!
Meditation is a Religious or Spiritual Practice
Nope! Meditation can be practiced without believing in anything!
You Need Meditation Props (pillows, candles, etc)
You absolutely do not need some elaborate meditation space or props. The only thing that’s needed is a space where there will be minimal interruptions.
BUT meditation can also be done in places with plenty of interruptions, such as when taking public transportation.
Again, it’s what works for YOU!
Mantras and Chants Need to be Used
There are LOTS and LOTS of different ways to meditate and it’s all about finding what practice is most comfortable for YOU!
Using mantras is only one form of meditation.
Meditation is Selfish
Meditation is practicing self-care and self-care is the least selfish thing you can do! The truth is that when you fill up your own cup you’re better able to be there for others.
You Have to be Still to Meditate
This is one of the biggest myths! You do not need to sit crossed legged in the lotus position to meditate.
There are forms of mediation that require movement such as walking, eating, and drawing.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
There are numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits to meditation. It’s nearly impossible to list them all but here are 20!
10 Physical Benefits
- Lower heart rate
- Slower respiratory rate
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- Decreased blood pressure
- May reduce memory loss
- Decreased chronic pain
- Improved immune system
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved blood circulation
- Reduced age-related memory loss
10 Mental and Emotional Benefits
- Decrease in anxiety
- Decrease in depression
- Decrease in stress
- Boosts a sense of well-being
- Improved awareness
- Increase in compassion and kindness
- Improved focus
- Sense of calm
- Boosts mental clarity
- Increases mental resilience
TYPES OF MEDITATION
I want to start off by saying that there is NO one way to meditate and one type is NOT better than the other. It is all about what works for YOU!
As previously mentioned, there is a misconception that it’s not a “real” meditation practice unless it’s done alone, in silence, chanting mantras, and sitting on a cushion. It’s just not true. Remember, there are even meditations that require movement!
Try different types and do what is comfortable and effective for you.
You also don’t have to commit to only one kind of meditation. Use as many types as you like and/or switch it up depending on the day and how you feel!
I’ve found that at different points in my life or even from day to day I use different types. Some days I choose to do it in silence and others I use guided meditations. I’m a big fan of guided body scans and loving-kindness meditations.
I also want to mention that meditation might bring up some uncomfortable emotions and it’s ok to stop a meditation session – or keep going! Again, it’s all about what works for you!
Here are 7 types of meditation you might want to try….
Helpful for people who find it easier to focus on a word or sound rather than the breath. It can be a suggested mantra or one you came up with yourself.
This is one of my favorite types and I prefer to use the guided form.
It Improves empathy, kindness, and forgiveness to yourself and others. This can be done with or without guided meditation.
During the mediation you state (aloud or in your head) messages of love toward the world, an enemy, or someone there’s a conflict with, your loved ones, specific people, and/or yourself.
It’s a type of meditation that benefits anyone but may be ideal for those struggling with forgiveness, resentment, anger, and frustration.
Heads up – it can be very challenging to send thoughts of well-being to those you have a conflict with. With time it may get easier. I will be honest in letting you know that it’s something I struggle with.
Used to pay attention to your thoughts and let them pass without judgment. This one can be challenging at first because people think they’re meditating wrong when thoughts arise. You’re not doing it wrong! It’s normal for thoughts to come up.
This is an active type of meditation that includes movement. Some ways include walking, creating art, gardening, and eating (there are many more!). It’s helpful for people who find movement relaxing.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
This is one of the most widely used types of meditation and it’s evidence-based. This means that research studies have been done on it. The research has determined that it has significant benefits. TM is taught one on one with an experienced, certified instructor.
This type of meditation is about mindfulness, releasing the tension, and mind-body awareness. It can be done with or without a guided meditation and involves paying attention to parts of the body.
The scan typically starts with the head and ends with the feet – but can be done the other way around. It’s a helpful way to become aware of the various sensations and tension you may have in parts of your body.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is a helpful stress reduction tool that reduces tension by tightening and relaxing muscles. Typically the practice starts at the top of the body, tightening the facial muscles and moving down to the lower body ending with tightening the toes and relaxing.
It can be done alone or with guidance.
Here are some of my favorite guided meditations – all of which can be found on YouTube for FREE! If these aren’t helpful for you, search YouTube for ANY type of meditation that you’re interested in and you’ll find a TON of options. YouTube is by far my #1 go-to place for finding meditations.
What I love about it:
Tarah’s site has an insane amount of different guided meditations to choose from! She’s incredible and her meditations will not disappoint!
What I love about it:
It increases empathy for myself and others. It also helps me work on forgiveness and any resentments I have toward myself and others.
Length: 13 minutes
What I love about it:
It relaxes my body and mind. It also increases the appreciation I have for my body and all it does for me.
Length: 21 minutes – a bit lengthy but totally worth it!
What I love about it:
It’s a perfect intro to meditation and it’s super short in length but still results in a sense of calm.
Length: 5 minutes (a perfect amount of time for a meditation newbie!)
What I love about it:
The music is SO incredibly relaxing. I love closing my eyes and focusing on my breath while listening to the soft, soothing instruments.
Length: 6 minutes
HOW TO START A MEDITATION PRACTICE
It’s best if you choose a time to do it every day. However, I get that you live a busy life! We all do and fitting in one more thing can feel totally overwhelming.
BUT meditation only takes a few minutes! Set your alarm in the morning for 10 minutes earlier and do it. I promise you it will be worth the pain of tearing off your warm covers.
Try different kinds to figure out what’s for you. If silence and focusing on your breath is your thing, great! Maybe saying mantras feels comfortable, perfect! You might find that you like guided meditations, terrific!
Remember, you don’t have to stick to one type of meditation – you can switch it up depending on the day and how you feel.
Don’t worry about how – just roll with whatever feels comfortable for you! Focusing on the “how” is stressful, which is not helpful for meditation practice and can make you feel bad about yourself.
Start with 2 minutes and work your way up!
Until later friend!
– Jen x
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