On the first Meditation 101 session, we talked about the 5 meditation techniques that are easy for beginners to learn, as well as meditation's amazing benefits to your health.
Today, we've put together some tips for beginners to get started and keep going. You don't have to implement them all at once - try a few, come back to this article, then try one or two more at a time.
Allow yourself to be a beginner, no one start off being excellent!
1. Start small with 2-5 minutes (or less)
Start small. Meditating every day for 2 to 5 minutes is a great way to start off the first week of meditation. If this goes to plan, increase the meditation time by another 2 to 5 minutes and do that regularly for the second week. Even if things don’t go to plan, you can always get back to the 2-5 minute meditation time.
It’s not the length of time that matters, it’s merely the consistency and commitment to doing it every day that counts. Form a habit to meditate daily, then get better at it.
2. Don’t get caught up in the “hows” - build your own practice.
Most people get caught up in the “hows” very easily. They focus so much of their time worrying about where they would sit, what they would wear, what sort of cushion they would use and so forth, and end up spending very little time for the actual practice.
Get comfortable with your own situation. Since you are going to be starting off meditation in 2 minute chunks, your seating position really doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable. Don’t worry about the how, just do it.
3. Be comfortable in a quiet place
Find your quiet place where you can meditate for 2 minutes daily without any disturbances. Get comfortable being in that place daily. Get to know the right seating or laying position that feels comfortable for you, so that you can maintain that posture for those 2 minutes without dozing off.
This spot doesn’t have to be in your home. It could be in your workplace, school, a local park, a quiet cafe, a church, etc.
4. Stick with one technique
There are a couple of beginner level techniques, some people get caught up easily in finding the “perfect” technique. Instead of trying a new type of meditation every day, it’s best to choose one technique and stick with it for at least a month. After one month, if you don’t feel like it’s working for you, then you can still explore something else.
5. Focus on your breath
When you first meditate, it can seem like your mind is racing in a thousand different directions at the same time. In such times, come back gradually to focus on your breath. Remember, that your mind will wander. You might feel frustrated and disappointed at first, but there is no problem in wandering.
To focus on your breath, try count “one” as you take in the first breath, “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one.
6. Practice non-judgement
There is no right or wrong when it comes to meditation. It’s easy to think that being distracted, fidgeting, or having your mind wander are negative experience, while they are totally natural. Meditation is supposed to calm your mind down, instead of adding more thoughts to it. You don't need to fight or resist those natural occurrences. Allow them, accept them, and experience the process of bringing back your mind by focusing on the breath.
7. Feel your body (and your mind)
When you first begin to get settled into your meditating position, check your body to simply see how you are feeling at that moment. Learn to appreciate the feedback that your body gives and use that as a focal point in your meditation. Check the feelings and thoughts running through your mind as well. Do you feel busy? Anxious? Stressed?
Use the feedback that your body gives you to ease into mediation. Resist the temptation to stiffen up your body during your meditation session.
Once you become a little better at following your breath, learn to shift your attention on one body part at a time. Start at your toes — how do those feel now? Slowly move to the tops of your feet, your ankles, your hands, all the way to the top of your head.
8. Establish a routine
Don’t let meditation be something that you are just trying out for “a couple of days” to see whether it will work out. Commit to meditating daily, at a specific time, for at least a month. If you can work meditation into your daily schedule and establish a routine, you will begin to reap the full benefits of meditation.
Morning meditation makes you become more energetic and motivational for the day. Meditating during lunch break helps to reduce stress, reset your mind and restore calm at work. Bedtime meditation, on the other hand, is a great way to improve sleep quality and practice gratitude as you reflect on your day!
9. Use guided meditations and meditation apps
The good thing about meditation is that you don’t have to do it alone. You can draw on the experiences of other people who have been where you are now, and learn from them. Guided meditations and meditation apps make this process easier. Apps like the Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm and other similar apps are great for beginners and experienced meditators alike.
10. Be grateful when you’re done
When you’re finished with your 2 minutes, be grateful that you had some time for yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re making progress. Even though you may have had trouble focusing, but you achieved your plan and your intention, after all!
Gratitude is the cornerstone to building everything you want in life, including a beneficial meditation practice!