Getting started with meditation can seem overwhelming. Maybe you’ve tried it before and couldn’t concentrate, or you just can’t see yourself getting through more than five minutes without being distracted. This beginner’s guide to meditation will give you the tools you need to get started and incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
What is meditation?
Mediation is a set of techniques and practices that encourage mindfulness and focusing your attention. People commonly meditate through breathing techniques. Beginners can get started with mediation by sitting as comfortably as possible and closing their eyes while focusing on their breathing. Meditation isn't about emptying the mind, it is about noticing the thoughts but not engaging with them. It is about noticing when your focus is distracted and bringing it back.
Why should you meditate?
Meditation has many benefits. Research shows it has positive effects on both mental and physical health. It's no wonder so many people practice it to lower stress levels and heighten awareness and balance in their daily lives.
It can also help with anxiety, mental health, self-esteem, and self-awareness. Additional research shows meditation can lower blood pressure and heart rates, help with chronic pain, and improve sleep patterns.
What does your brain do when you meditate?
By practicing an activity repeatedly, your brain improves neural connections between different regions of the brain. Studies on the effects of meditation are still ongoing but research shows it increases grey matter density which can improve memory and speed up learning processes. Neurologists have seen changes in brain structures after six months of meditation if practiced regularly.
Mediation also deactivates the sympathetic nervous system, a network of brain structures responsible for many stress and anxiety triggers. It can help prevent a fight-or-flight response and instead allow your mind to react calmly. When you translate this into your real-life situations, it means meditation can help you think before responding. So, the next time you're in a stressful situation, you can have a well thought-out reaction instead of an emotional one.
When do you know that your meditation is successful?
Meditation is not something you can learn in one session. When you first start meditating, it’s completely normal to feel your mind wander as you attempt to take control of it. Having wandering thoughts doesn't mean that your sessions will be ineffective, though. Don't feel discouraged if you're struggling to concentrate initially. Instead, gently try to focus your mind again and ignore intrusive thoughts.
Any meditation session is successful, and there is no use in comparing one to another. Once you let go of any judgment, you’ll find yourself wanting to meditate more often, and focusing will become much more manageable.
What are the best mediation techniques?
Meditation is actually an umbrella term and there are in fact lots of different techniques you can try. Here are some of the best ones for beginners.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
When you think of mediation, you probably think of mindfulness techniques. These are some of the most popular forms of meditation for beginners and can have many benefits. Mindfulness meditation is all about focusing your thoughts. You can easily practice it at home without any need for equipment or training.
2. Focused Meditation
Focused meditation techniques are similar to mindfulness meditation, but they differ in that they also include focusing on the five senses. You can do it through breathing techniques, listening to a repetitive sound, or even watching a candle flame. All of these can help calm your thoughts and focus your mind.
3. Movement Meditation
Movement meditation most commonly refers to yoga. However, it can also involve practices such as tai chi, qigong, or even just taking a slow walk. Letting the mind wander is more common in this form of meditation and can be great for beginners who struggle to focus.
4. Mantra Meditation
Meditating through the help of a mantra can be a fantastic way to focus your thoughts and clear your mind of distractions. Mantras can be short sentences or even sounds you repeat over and over again until you reach a relaxed state.
Make Meditation Work for You
Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, and even complete beginners can enjoy benefits after just a few sessions. You’ll begin to notice how your thoughts start to slow down and how meditation can help your body feel relaxed and at peace.
Make sure to try different types of meditation to determine which one is the most effective for you. At first, it might take some time to get into the habit of meditating regularly but once you’ve included it into your routine, you’ll be excited to keep working on your meditation practices.