There’s a story I heard during a yoga class last week…
It goes like this: A student is sitting with her Zen teacher and she asks him, “How do I become truly happy?” The zen teacher sits and thinks and then asks the student, “What do you think about when you are cooking?” The student replies, “That’s a weird question! Well, I guess I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat.” The zen teacher smiles and then asks, “Okay and what do you think about while you’re eating?” The student replies, “I guess I’m thinking about all the things I need to get done tomorrow.”
The teacher smiles and responds, “Here is the key to happiness: When you are eating, you eat. When you are walking, you walk. When you are cooking, you cook. When you are sleeping, you sleep. When you are working, you work. It’s that simple.”
The student is confused and replies, “What do you mean that’s the key to happiness!? I don’t understand.” The teacher calmly says, “It’s only when you are completely engaged in the present moment that you will find peace and happiness. If you’re thinking about eating while you’re cooking and you’re thinking about cooking while you’re at work and you’re thinking about work while you’re eating, you’ll never be happy. You’re wrapped up in the future or the past and that’s not happiness.”
So… how does this story apply to you?
Chances are you are constantly repeating the past and worrying about the future. You don’t know if you did things right yesterday, so you obsess about tomorrow. And guess what? This leads to anxiety—a disorder that affects 40 million Americans a year.
If half of your brain is unpacking yesterday and the other half is worried about tomorrow, what happens to today?
It gets forgotten. Discarded. Thrown away—this is where a meditation practice comes in.
Starting a meditation practice is by far the most effective and powerful way to train your brain to start living, appreciating, and falling in love with the present. Meditation can feel a little mysterious if you’re new to it, but the benefits can completely transform the way you see yourself and the world. So today, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about meditation for beginners, including:
- What is meditation?
- Benefits of meditation
- How to start meditating
- 5 effective meditation techniques to try
What Is Meditation?
Simply put, meditation is a practice that uses certain techniques to train your attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Oftentimes, people assume that in order to practice meditation, you have to be a perfect little yogi sitting in a treehouse, or a monk on top of a mountain. Here’s the thing: Anyone can meditate. ANYONE. Teachers, artists, truck drivers, doctors, vice presidents, investment bankers, writers, moms, dads, children, athletes, politicians, CEOs, and everyone in between. That’s the beauty of meditation.
But it’s important to understand that meditation takes time, patience, and repetition in order to reap the full benefits. I mean, it’s called a meditation practice for a reason. Once you learn how to slow your mind and see things from a new perspective, you won’t be able to imagine a life when you weren’t meditating regularly!
Although meditation might seem like a complicated practice, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, meditation is an art of doing less, not more.
It’s going to sound like an oxymoron, but let’s dive a little deeper into how the art of doing nothing can be so rewarding!
Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation are undeniable. You can experience a variety of physical and mental benefits when you practice meditation consistently. In fact, there’s even scientific research that backs it up!
Physical Benefits of Meditation
Practicing meditation on a regular basis has proven to:
- Lower stress levels
- Improve sleep quality
- Relieve pain
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
The benefits of mediation don’t stop there…
Mental Benefits of Meditation
As you begin your meditation practice, you will also experience a change in your mental health. Meditation can help you become more:
- Connected to who you truly are
Meditation For Beginners: How to Start Meditating
Before we jump into how to start meditating, do me a favor and stop what you’re doing. Take a very deep breath right now. Inhale deeply for 7 seconds. You might feel weird doing it. It might even make you feel a little dizzy. But you are taking in the amount of oxygen you’re supposed to have.
We all shallow breathe because we’re in a hurry. But taking deep breaths is healthy and good for you. Some people go their whole lives without ever taking a conscious breath! And yet, breath is life.
If you’re one of those people who says, “I just can’t meditate!” you’re not alone. Meditating is super popular right now, but it can be intimidating to get started! Especially if you have never tried before.
But guess what? Even if you think you’ve never meditated in your life, you actually have! And if you took a deep breath earlier, then you’re well on your way.
You and everyone else has the ability to slow down our mind and body. You can disconnect from our busy day and visit your deepest self during meditation.
5 Effective Meditation Techniques
Meditation is everywhere. And it seems like people are always talking about how good it is for you, but are you ever left wondering how it even works?
Here’s the thing: Don’t overthink it.
Meditation is SO simple. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting to your breath.
When I first started meditating, I found it helpful to use apps like:
- Insight Timer: This one is free (woo!) and has hundreds of meditations.
- Calm App: This app offers a 7-day free trial so you can try out their guided meditations before you commit to a monthly subscription.
- Headspace App: This is a popular app that offers hundreds of meditations. Browse through their large library and you’ll find something to connect with.
Different types of meditation take you to different places. There are thousands of philosophies and approaches to meditation, so you can experiment with different types and find what works best for you. You can use apps or practice on your own.
Hopefully, these techniques help demystify meditation. It’s an ancient practice and just because these are simple and quick meditations for beginners, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience extraordinary results.
These are the five most effective meditation techniques for beginners:
1. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation is also called Metta meditation. If you’ve never done it before, give it a shot. This meditation is powerful and opens up your heart and mind in big ways.
Here’s how to do it…
Sit or lie down in a comfortable place and close your eyes. Bring your attention to the center of the chest. Imagine that with every breath you are sending energy from your heart to fill your entire body. Take 5 deep breaths.
Start extending loving kindness to yourself by saying the following mantra:
- May I be happy
- May I be healthy
- May I be free from suffering
- May I be at peace
Imagine that the words of this mantra travel into your heart. With every breath, feel more and more peace, positivity, love, and kindness spreading to your entire body.
Now, bring to mind someone who needs this loving kindness. It could be a loved one, a pet, a stranger, or someone that you have challenges with. Picture them in your mind and then repeat the mantra, and send that loving energy to them:
- May you be happy
- May you be healthy
- May you be free from suffering
- May you be at peace
This meditation will help you tap into the deep well of compassion within you. This is a great meditation for beginners.
2. Deep Belly Breathing
Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down with little or no distractions. You could sit on a park bench, a quiet place in your house, or on your bed.
Close your eyes. Release any unnecessary tension in the face. Take a deep breath in through the nose and exhale with an open mouth. Place your hands on your belly and feel it rise and fall with each breath.
Inhale to the count of 5, open mouth exhale to the count of 5.
Do this 3-5 times.
3. Sound Meditation
Sound is a powerful tool that can take us deeper into the present moment.
Search for Youtube videos or meditation videos of Tibetan singing bowls or crystal bowls. Once you find a video, press play and find a comfortable place to lie down. Place your hands on your belly and begin taking deep breaths in and out of your nose. Feel your hands rise and fall on top of your stomach. Allow your whole body to relax as you drift deeper into the sound meditation. Pay attention to your breath and see if you are able to slow down the breathing by taking longer inhales and exhales.
You can do this before you go to bed as a way to fully relax the mind and body. When you feel more relaxed, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep.
4. Mantra Meditation
This is an easy meditation that you can do when you are feeling in a rut, stuck in traffic, dealing with a screaming child in the grocery store, in a hectic meeting, or when you are rushing to finish something at work.
Use this mantra meditation to SLOW DOWN.
What’s a mantra? It’s a simple phrase that you repeat to yourself that helps you focus.
You can practice this when you are walking, sitting, standing, or lying down. The mantra for this meditation is “Peace begins with me.”
Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Repeat the mantra while touching your fingers to a different fingertip with each word:
- Peace: bring your thumb to touch your index finger
- Begins: bring your thumb to touch your middle finger
- With: bring your thumb to touch your ring finger
- Me: bring your thumb to touch your pinkie finger
Do this five times. You can practice this easy but calming mantra anytime. Go ahead and try it now and see how you feel!
5. Tea Meditation
Prepare a hot cup of tea. Find a comfortable seat and open your senses to the tea. Inhale deeply in through your nose and out through the mouth. Don’t change anything about your breath, just notice it. Now, bring your awareness to the beauty of the present moment. Look at the mug you’re using. Look at the hot water inside the mug. Pay attention to the rise and fall of the breath. See if you can lengthen the breath by breathing in deeper, holding the breath for a moment longer at the top of the inhale, and exhale slowly. Now, take a sip of the tea and savor the taste.
Continue sipping the tea slowly, connecting to your breath and the present moment. This is an easy morning or evening meditation that you can pair with SkinnyFit Detox Tea or SkinnyFit ZzzTox Tea. Focusing on deepening the breath and making it a priority in your life can help you discover a tremendous amount of respect for your breath.
RELATED: 7 Of The Best Teas To Drink Before Bed (For Ultimate Relaxation)
The Bottom Line On Meditation For Beginners
Breathing is a natural thing you are doing anyway. Throughout your day you are taking inhales and exhales. Meditation is just trying to slow down. And since you are starting to eat healthy, meditation benefits everything you are already doing!
Hopefully your awareness was opened by reading this. And remember: You don’t have to start meditating today. Just give it some thought! It’s here for you whenever you’re ready to explore it as a practice. Meditation for beginners is the same as meditation for advanced students. We are all in the same boat called life!