In this article, I share my best tips for beginning meditation. It's based on what I have learned through trial and error. With a lifelong twice-daily practice, I have faced all the common obstacles. Without the benefit of meditation in my daily life, I don’t think I would be the same person. It has also enriched my sense of spiritual contentment.
When I started meditating, I was less than pleased with the incessant chatter inside my head. It was like a galloping horse and I had no reigns. Sounds familiar? Begin your journey with a short meditation. Each meditation tip in this blog post has stood the test of time.
How do you meditate?
You can learn to meditate by listening to a guided meditation. It will take you through a step-by-step process. A body scan meditation is also included. It's a meditation practice that will help to shepherd your mind towards inner silence.
The most important thing when you have started meditating is to make it part of your daily life. As with all things in life, only what is practiced regularly leads to mastery. You don’t expect to become a great pianist without daily practice. It is common to believe you can experience deep meditation without practicing. Remember that meditation is like any other skill.
What to think about while meditating?
Meditation is about focusing your attention. When your mind has wandered, you gently steer it back to a focal point. Each type of meditation practice has its own set of lessons that teach you how to do this.
In mindfulness meditation, you become an observer of your thoughts. In yoga meditation, you guide your thoughts towards mantra, visualization, and spiritual awareness.
Still, an active mind can make it difficult to focus. There is always something engaging to fill up your grey matter. Focusing on a positive emotion will help you to gain a more compliant mind.
When you start a meditation practice, you need to consider some practical issues. Meditation techniques are not only about what to think. It's also about integrating simple routines and common sense to make it work in your daily life.
How long should a beginner meditate, and when is a good time to meditate?
The no.1 obstacle to meditation is finding the time. Life is busy.
The best time to meditate is first thing in the morning or last thing at night. For a starter, all you need is 10 minutes before your morning routines. Or 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Brush your teeth and splash some cool water in the eyes and face. Then head back to bed for your morning meditation. Or evening. Or both.
As you get more comfortable doing meditation, you will increase how long you sit. It can be helpful to use a meditation timer if your schedule is tight, or if you find 10 minutes difficult for a starter.
What’s the best place to meditate?
Yes, all you need is your bed. It’s soft, quiet and comfy. You don’t need any special equipment nor a dedicated meditation area in your home. Make it simple.
What’s the best meditation posture?
The best posture is to sit crosslegged. Why? Because an erect spine helps the energy flow in your body, assisting your mind to be relaxed and alert.
With your eyes closed, keep your hands folded in your lap. The thumbs should touch each other. This posture helps to bring your attention to focus. For an advanced meditator, this is still the best meditation posture for concentration. A lot of meditation imagery shows people who sit crosslegged with hands resting on the knees. This meditation posture is useful once the mind has already dived deep.
Most people have a problem to sit crosslegged. The push against the ankles creates pins and needles in the feet. The soft surface of the bed does away with this trouble.
To prevent slouching when you meditate, you can use your pillow as a meditation cushion. As you sit crosslegged, only your butt should be on the pillow while your legs rest on the mattress. This keeps the back straight.
If your legs permit a half-lotus or full lotus meditation posture, that is even better. But if your health will only allow you to meditate in a chair, that’s ok too. Just try to sit as straight as possible. If it's painful to sit straight while meditating in bed, rest the back against the bedhead or wall.
You may find it helpful to pay attention to your posture when walking or moving around the house. Pulling in your butts automatically straightens the lower back. Pulling back your shoulders and chin down does the rest.
How do you breathe during meditation?
A deep, slow breath is intimately connected to a relaxed mind. Stress is accompanied by fast, shallow breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply, but go gently and don’t force it. A forced slow breath is in itself stressful.
What are 3 types of meditation?
In yoga, the goal of meditation is to gain inner calm and connect to your spiritual essence. In the context of relaxation, the goal of meditation is to soothe the mind and body. It’s possible to get both at the same time. Let’s take a look at 3 common types of meditation practice.
1. Mindfulness meditation
These days mindfulness meditation is popular in all segments of society. In this meditation practice, you learn to observe your mind. You witness what is truly going on within yourself. You can also focus on a positive emotion such as compassion. The process leads to the transformation of negative experiences and attitudes. It is a simple and gentle way to discover your true self and to change for the better. Self-knowledge is the first step to inner peace.
Mindfulness can extend into all areas of life by being fully present. Creativity and art is an easy way to practice mindfulness. Walking meditation in nature is also an effortless way to practice mindfulness. You pay attention to the small marvels of Mother Nature. Many people find a meditation app helpful for mindfulness meditation.
2. Yoga meditation
Yoga meditation is an ancient meditation practice originating in India. Meditation techniques based on sound (mantra) and visualization activate spiritual awareness. As a meditation for beginners, it provides simple practices for focusing your attention. When you achieve a daily meditation routine, further meditation lessons are taught. Advanced lessons include breathing exercises called Pranayama.
Calm, soothing music stirs up positive emotions. Likewise, the repetition of a mantra creates a soft flow in the mind. Mantras are in ancient Sanskrit language. They always carry a spiritual meaning. Ideation on the meaning is as important as the repetition. When your mind has wandered, your effort is focused on bringing your attention back to the mantra.
The visualization processes in yoga meditation have a powerful impact on the mind. It leads your attention away from the external world towards an inner sanctuary.
The goal of meditation with this method is spiritual consciousness. Spiritual contentment makes you resilient against life's ups and downs. It is an inner peace that prevails even in the darkest hour.
3. Guided visualization
Listening to a guided visualization helps you to create a dream-like inner world. In a sleeping dream, you experience many kinds of emotions. These emotions are part of the movies created by your subconscious mind. You arouse positive emotions and sensations with beautiful, relaxing imagery. While fully conscious you create a movie, just like a dream. You enter a waking dream.
A guided visualization can help you discover the hidden corners of your mind. You walk paths you never knew existed. It's a lovely tool to awaken positive emotions. You can also experience spiritual awareness with imagined spiritual journeys. You can awaken your creativity.
Guided visualizations can be a stepping stone to mindfulness meditation and yoga meditation. As a daily practice, it may fall short. Why? You depend on an external, recorded voice in a set time frame. The benefit of meditation is closer at hand when your daily practice is done in stillness. On your own time. Make it simple.
Can I meditate lying down?
Yes, you can meditate lying down. Except, strictly speaking, it's not meditation. It’s a way to follow a mental process to relax and fall asleep, which in any case may be what you want. When you go on a guided visualization journey, lying down works well. But to meditate is an active verb. You need to be alert.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines meditation as follows:
"To engage in contemplation or reflection".
"To engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness".
How do you know meditation is working?
Daily meditation leads to a calmer mind and self-knowledge. A connection to spiritual self-awareness comes with spiritual intention.
Results are not immediate, but if you make a sustained effort over some time, you will have these outcomes. If your mind is galloping every time you sit in meditation, your daily effort will still bear fruit. It’s all about a well-directed effort. The Sanskrit term for meditation is sadhana. It means effort.