Any guide that includes information on “how to meditate for beginners” must first take into consideration the fact that there is no ONE right way to meditate. Although its physical, mental and spiritual benefits are becoming better known, meditation remains a mysterious and intimidating process to many people. The truth is that there are many different kinds of meditation, and the practice can be easily learned.
You don’t have to go to an ashram in India or sit in a lotus position for hours to reap the rewards of meditation. In fact, meditation doesn’t have to be a mystical experience at all. Regardless of the style(s) you choose to practice, meditation is essentially the art of quieting the mind in order to benefit the body and spirit.
The History Of Meditation
The act of meditating likely started with the beginning of mankind. Although not a formalized activity, meditation historians believe that ancient man likely meditated in various states while staring into the fire. According to a variety of online and offline sources, the first reference to formal meditation techniques likely came from India in scriptures calls tantras. The tantras are about 5,000 years old and contained various meditation techniques.
Fast-forward a couple thousand years to find the Buddha (who was Hindu Prince Siddharta Gautama) as one of the staunchest advocates of meditation, helping to spread the practice across the Asian continent. It wasn’t really until the middle of the 20th century that meditation started to gain awareness in the United States and other Western countries.
Meditation Fun Facts – Did You Know?
- Scientific research shows that meditation changes the electrical activity in the brain and strengthens its circuits thereby reducing stress and calming the nervous system.
- The meditative state often evokes a sense of timelessness or loss of self that resembles a mystical experience.
- In addition to improving concentration and calming anxiety, meditation also affects physical health and well-being. It has been shown to be effective in the following ways:
- Slows the heart rate
- Improves circulation of blood and digestive enzymes
- Strengthens the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces muscle tension and anxiety
- Increases levels of neurotransmitters and helps with depression
- Helps to manage chronic conditions
- Aids in pain management
- Helps with insomnia
- Slows down “flight-or-fight” response
- Increases creativity and energy
Getting Started With Meditation
Like exercise or dieting, choosing the right meditation method is one of the most important steps in learning how to meditate for beginners. Fortunately, there are many styles from which to choose, and you can adapt any of them to fit your own needs. It is, however, helpful to remember a few important details that apply to any practice, especially when learning how to meditate for beginners…
- Beginners need to find a quiet place and meditate at the same time each day, if possible.
- Practices vary, but it helps to find a particular posture that is comfortable and appropriate for the particular style of meditation being practiced.
- Focusing one’s attention is important. Depending on the form of meditation, this may involve mantras, centering prayer, breathing, or focusing on an object, such as a crystal or prayer beads.
- Don’t judge yourself when your mind wanders. Instead, let thoughts go and bring focus back to the meditation.
- To receive maximum benefits, practice the same style for several weeks rather than switching back and forth between techniques. Beginners, however, may need to experiment with finding the right method before choosing the technique they want to use first.
Meditation falls into two broad categories: concentration and mindfulness. Concentration meditation includes TM, or transcendental meditation, and other styles that evoke relaxation. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, involves focusing attention on one particular point, such as object, a tranquil scene, or a phrase. Beginners may opt to take classes in one of these styles or to develop a variation of their own. Self help books and reputable Internet sites are good sources of information.
While there is really nothing necessary to purchase in order to do this hobby, you may find that you want a yoga mat or a comfortable chair to aid you in your relaxation and concentration. Yoga mats can be found at most major stores and at sporting good stores. Typically they are not more than $15-$30. If a chair such as a papisan chair or a rocking chair is more your style, this can be considerably more money – ultimately as expensive as you want it to be.
Many people find soft music to be helpful. If you do not have any music that fits this bill, you can easily find some to purchase almost anywhere. Learning how to meditate for beginners can be difficult at first so we recommend taking a class or series of classes to get you started on the right track.
How To Meditate For Beginners
Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Turn off any mobile devices or distractions such as your cell phone, the television, or your computer. Take a moment to clear your mind of all inner distractions such as your mental to-do list or any frustrations. These things will only keep you from relaxing and will keep your mind from being able to reap the benefits of meditation.
Repeat a meaningful prayer or mantra. This could be as simple as telling yourself to relax and unwind over and over, or it could be more intricate – such as reciting a passage of Scripture or a favorite poem. No matter what you choose, make sure that it is meaningful and peaceful to you. Bring your mind into the present moment and focus on what you are telling yourself.
Pay attention to sensations within your body. Visualize yourself relaxing. Do your best to call to mind positive emotions, such as unconditional love or compassion. It may even help to smile a bit, as smiling tends to relax the body and mind together as one. You can even imagine a tranquil setting, such as a tropical beach or magnificent mountain.
It may be helpful to listen to guided meditations or relaxing music at this point in your meditation process. Once you are relaxed, you may also want to read something calming and soothing. Spending time in nature is also a great way to continue the relaxation and meditative process. Yoga is another way to take your meditation to the next level.
Beginner Mediation Tips and Tricks:
Keep in mind the following tips and tricks that can help you get more out of learning how to meditate for beginners…
- When it comes to giving advice about how to meditate, there are no rules. Without a doubt, meditation is a personal practice that has life-changing potential. How any one person chooses to go about the process, however, is an individual decision.
- The most important thing to remember is that you are doing meditation because it makes you feel better and function more effectively. If you’re not getting the hang of it and feeling frustrated, consider another approach. Remember that the purpose of meditation is to help you relax, not to stress you out. For one person, that might mean a long walk along the beach or sitting quietly on garden bench. For another, it may be a spiritual practice or yoga.
- If you are having a hard time meditating on your own, consider joining a group class, such as a yoga class, to help you on your individual journey to relaxation.
Growing With Meditation
As you master how to meditate for beginners and would like to deepen your meditative skills, consider some of the following…
- A variety of technologies exist that claim to help people learn or get the most out of mediation. Certain sound recordings use binaural beats in an attempt to replicate brain activity seen during meditation. Try experimenting with some of these tools to see if they help you.
- You can join a meditation class where you can practice with others as well as socialize afterward. Some feel that classes are beneficial because the communal positive energy benefits everyone. However some others find group settings difficult for meditation due to a variety of distractions.
- If you enjoy a group meditative setting, consider attending a meditation retreat. In addition to meeting great people, you’ll also learn a great deal about a variety of meditation and holistic practices.
- Incorporate physical fitness into your meditation hobby by practicing Yoga or Pilates.
Related Resources For Mediation
As you learn how to meditate for beginners, check out the following online resources for additional information…
How To Meditate – a meditation dedicated solely to meditation types, instruction, news and other helpful resources.
Association For Insight Meditation – helpful mediation site that offers a variety of meditation articles, books and hosts a mediation forum.
About Buddha – site dedicated solely to information about the Life of Buddha
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.