Meditation is becoming more and more popular and so a meditation guide for beginners is in order. Meditating doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t need to take up much of your time. The benefits of meditation are amazing and I’m glad you’re here to find out all about it.
A recent study from Queens University suggested that Humans have around 6200 thoughts per day. Think about that number for a minute. 6200 thoughts per minute. It’s no wonder that, for many of us, our thoughts consume us. They can keep us up at night. They can overwhelm us. They cause anxiety and stress because, unfortunately, most of those thoughts are negative.
There’s a great app I’ve recently tried that helps you with guided meditations, easy breath exercises, and simple, quick reminders to breathe and be more mindful. It’s a great app that I’ve been enjoying called Headspace.
Headspace allows you to try it for free for 14 days. This is great because you see the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for yourself with some guidance sooner than if you’re trying it out on your own for the first time.
Now, more than ever, Mental Health has become as big a focus as physical health. As a result, medical professionals worldwide encourage their patients to include practices that help calm their thoughts and promote awareness and perspective with physical exercise.
Enter, Meditation. What was once viewed as a new age, hippy way to hypnotize people; is now at the forefront of treatment for many individuals. The connection between the brain and one’s overall health is significant. Studies show that the many benefits of Meditation can significantly change a person’s health.
Meditation is widely used and encouraged. For example, Meditation is implemented in many school programs as a way for kids to understand the importance of building mental strength at an early age. In addition, professional athletes use Mediation as part of their routine before a big game or competition to help them become focused and centered. With some calming mediation music and time to just be, its widespread popularity is taking over.
Workplaces have incorporated Meditation practices as an integral part of the workday to help employees start their day off positively or help refocus in the middle of a particularly hectic day. Many insurance companies now provide discounts on Meditation apps to encourage people to sign up and begin implementing Meditation in their day-to-day activities.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice in which an individual focuses the mind on a particular object, thought, or saying to promote and increase awareness and perspective. The goal in practice is to achieve a sense of calmness, clarity, and emotional stability.
Meditation is practiced not to change who you are at your core; instead, it promotes a better understanding and acceptance of the person you are. It teaches you to accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Meditation can be traced back thousands of years and is instrumental in the spiritual development of individuals of many different religions.
Why Should you Meditate?
The health benefits of Meditation continue to be studied. However, as mentioned before, Medical professionals encourage Meditation as part of a healthy lifestyle. We live in a very stressful world, and chronic stress can adversely affect the body in so many ways.
For example, stress causes hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to be released into the bloodstream. However, too much of these hormones continuously released into the bloodstream may cause heart attacks, strokes, spikes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels, hinder our immune system, and cause significant sleep disruptions.
Think of a relaxed and calm mind and body as a red light. When the mind and body are partnered in this state, they stop releasing those ugly hormones that do so much damage to your body. Regular meditation practice can decrease heart and oxygen rates, lower blood pressure, increase immunity, and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Stress also wreaks havoc with our brains. It encourages negative self-talk. It makes you nervous, angry, on edge, and promotes feelings of fear and anxiety.
Meditation helps to rewire the brain by physically promoting positive thoughts and emotions. It builds on strengthening the traits responsible for focus and decision-making. In addition, it builds self-esteem and acceptance of the person you are.
Different Types of Meditation
Before you begin incorporating Meditation as a regular activity, you should be aware that there are several different meditation practices that you can choose from. Meditation is not a one size fits all kind of thing. You may end up trying all or just one before you find the one practice you connect with, bringing you the peace and calm you are looking for.
Let’s break down some of the most common practices:
- basic mindfulness meditation
- spiritual Meditation
- focused Meditation
- movement meditation
- mantra meditation
- visualization meditation
- loving-kindness Meditation
- walking meditation
Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhism and is probably the most practiced type of Meditation. It promotes an awareness of the thoughts that go through your mind. You are encouraged not to think too hard about those thoughts and not judge them.
Instead, you allow the thoughts to flow through your mind paying attention to any patterns.
It is usually practiced with awareness or focus on an object or the breath.
Spiritual Meditation is focused on developing a better understanding of spiritual and religious practices and meanings. Those who practice spiritual Meditation feel a calling to create a stronger connection with a higher power.
Focused Meditation uses the five senses to help sharpen focus in their lives. It incorporates the use of mala beads which you count while practicing.
During this practice, you may count your breaths, stopping at a specif number and then re-starting your count again.
It may involve listening to an instrument such as a gong or Tibetan singing bowl, focusing on the rhythms created by the instrument.
Movement meditation incorporates slow, languid, concentrated movements such as Tai Chi. It can be a walk through a beautiful landscape or as simple as gardening in the sun’s warmth. It is wherever you feel a solid connection to movement and your body.
Mantra Meditation uses a word or phrase repeated throughout the practice. It can be a slow, drawn-out word such as “Om” or a phrase with deep meaning. For example, “I am worthy of love” “I welcome abundance and success into my life.” Whatever your word or phrase is, you are encouraged to keep it positive and calming.
Visualization Meditation focuses on feelings of peace, relaxation, and tranquility by visualizing environments, objects, or scenes that encompass all of these. Watching waves crash, listening to rain, hearing birds singing while imagining the colors of the landscape, the smell of the rain, the warmth of the water. It can also be visualizing yourself sitting at your desk in your new office, promoted to a new position. Seeing the book, you’ve written on the New York Times bestseller list.
There are so many ways to visualize what you want out of life, and this type of practice can help you attain self-confidence, focus and motivation, inner peace, and better moods.
Loving-Kindness Meditation helps promote and encourage feelings of compassion, empathy, and kindness towards yourself and others. It involves opening yourself up to love and acceptance and is ideal for those who suffer from feelings of resentment, low self-esteem, and anger towards themselves and those in their lives.
Can you Teach Yourself to Meditate?
Absolutely! As long as you are patient and understand that this is a practice, it may take you a while before you feel comfortable within that practice. But a simple and easy way to teach yourself to Meditate is by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath.
Allow your thoughts to wander through without concentrating on them, and set a soft alarm to signal the end of your Meditation. Start by Meditating for a few minutes first and then gradually lengthening the time. Set a reminder on your phone to Meditate daily to incorporate the practice into your daily routine.
Using apps such as Headspace can help you start your Meditation journey and strengthen your practice over time. Former Buddhist Monk Andy Puddicomb developed Headspace to make the practice of Meditation easy for everyone. He recognized that the world desperately needed Meditation techniques to help encourage people to stop and focus on their inner well-being.
The cool thing about Headspace is that they have so many different Meditations. You can choose from male or female voices to guide your Meditation. You have the choice of short, two-minute meditations or longer 30-minute ones. They have even partnered with the Nike run app to provide guided Meditation while running.
In addition, they offer programs that encourage positive change in mindset. Using an app such as this can take your practice to another level. Headspace even has guided sleep meditations where you can lie down and relax into a deep sleep by doing a body scan from head to toe.
A Meditation Guide for Beginners.
Finding a nice quiet place for your practice is key in getting started. Sit in a comfortable position, with your feet on the floor or cross-legged, take a deep, slow breath and relax your body. Roll out your shoulders a few times. Roll your head around and back and forth; when ready, close your eyes. Keep your posture upright and as straight as possible.
Concentrate on the slow deep breaths, feeling your tummy inflate and your chest rise. You can place one hand on your belly and the other over your heart as you breathe.
Exhale and within your exhale, make a sighing sound. It can be loud at first or soft, whatever makes you comfortable. Do this a few times, and then silence your breath.
Now focus on your breath by counting your exhales until you reach ten. When you get to ten, start over at 1.
Allow your thoughts to wander through your mind, acknowledge them, and gently move them out.
You can visualize your thoughts in your hand, placing them outside of your realm of thought or gently swatting them away. You can even imagine your thoughts on a cloud softly drifting through your mind and away like they do in the sky.
Revel in the calming sensations of relaxation that come over you. Ask yourself questions like, is the air you breathe warm or cold as you exhale?
Is your breath shallow or deep?
Are you feeling impatient or accepting of the thoughts floating through your brain? These kinds of questions may also help keep you focused on your Meditation instead of what’s around you.
You are encouraged to keep your practice short while working up to a more extended practice at the beginning of your journey. You can use tools to help guide you in your practice.
For example, you may use Meditation videos to help you focus on a calming scenery or object while practicing.
Learning how to meditate can seem daunting because so many of us focus on the fact that we can’t keep our thoughts at bay.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with mindfulness and mediations, Headspace allows you to try it for free for 14 days.
Being compassionate with yourself and understanding the practice is not meant to stop thoughts from going through your mind entirely is critical.
Meditation is a journey. It is essential to understand the foundation for building meaningful practice starts with acceptance. Beginning a daily routine as short as 5 minutes will allow you to let go of feelings of anxiousness and restlessness.
You will learn to stay focused and keep your mind from wandering towards thoughts that do not support a positive mindset. It will help keep you in the present moment and reduce overall stress.
Breathing exercises will help you meditate, and you’ll see that breathing is an important part of meditation.
That first breath you take while getting started on your Meditation journey will change your life in ways you never thought possible.
So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath and just let go.