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Meditation 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Man practicing meditation

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be easy to get lost in the noise. Whether it’s working, going to school, raising a family or keeping up with the house, we’re all busy with something that holds our attention for hours on end.

If you’ve ever sat down at night and wondered where your day went, or just feel overworked in general, it might be a good time to try meditating.

New to meditation? That’s okay.

This step-by-step guide provides an uncomplicated approach to achieve some inner calm no matter where you are.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a powerful mental tool and wellness practice that helps us slow our thoughts, refocus our perspective and gain awareness. Meditation has been practiced for centuries all over the world but is growing more and more popular in the US and other western cultures today.

There are many different meditation techniques and reasons that people meditate, but some of the most popular forms are mindfulness meditation, focused meditation and transcendental meditation (TM). While you need to sign up for classes to properly learn TM, most other methods are easily learned and don’t cost anything.

Since there are multiple methods to meditation, you may want to try a few out and see which works best for you, but for beginners one of the best types is mindfulness meditation. Mindful meditation is simply focusing on the “here and now” by concentrating on your senses like touch or hearing and letting your thoughts come and go without judgement.

Not only is mindfulness meditation straightforward, it helps promote a healthy response to stress and doesn’t take more than a few minutes out of your day.1 Some people use this form of meditation to connect with their spiritual side, or even to provide emotional support. Whatever your reason may be, this practice may help bring you some inner peace throughout your day.

How to Meditate for Beginners

This simple meditation technique is perfect for beginners and makes a great go-to routine when you’ve got a few minutes to spare. Be sure to be comfortable and kind to yourself—if you feel strange sitting with your thoughts that’s perfectly normal. You’ll become more comfortable with this practice over time. This particular type of meditation focuses on staying mindful of the present moment and the sensations that you may typically tune out.

Quiet Your Space

Be sure to set your phone to silent, remove unnecessary distractions and be sure your space is tidy. While group meditation is somewhat common, especially combined with yoga, it may help to try this routine on your own first so you can really be alone with your thoughts. You can also use a timer or just stop when you feel ready. Aim for 3-5 minutes to start.

Get Comfy

Find a comfy spot where you can either sit or lie down. Feel free to use blankets, cushions or even a sleep mask to really settle in. If you’re sitting, try to sit upright without tensing up. Rest your arms on your legs or at your side, whatever feels natural to you. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes or let your gaze fall downwards.

Focus on Your Breath

Notice your breathing and focus on the sensations you feel. The way your chest rises, the temperature of the air when you inhale or warmth when you exhale. Try to only focus on your breathing during this session.

Don’t Fight Your Thoughts

One of the big urges you may face is trying to fight off having thoughts—try not to do that. If your mind starts to wander that’s okay, it’s natural. Acknowledge these thoughts without judgement and gently bring your mind back to your breathing.

Take Your Time

Whenever you’re ready, start to move your toes, feet, fingers and shoulders and slowly open your eyes. If you’ve set a timer, it helps to have a calm, quiet chime to help you come out of meditation rather than a loud alarm or bell.

Other Meditation Tricks to Try

Some people like to keep a journal and log how they’re feeling before and after they meditate to keep track of patterns or just reflect on their experience. Regardless of keeping a journal, reflect on how you feel.

You can add meditation music or try guided meditations for a more auditory experience. You can also try adaptogens like ashwagandha or other soothing nutrients to help ease your mind before you start.

The best part about meditation is that there is no one correct way to do it. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and be kind to yourself throughout. If you want to try zen fitness, try pairing meditation with yoga for a whole new meaning of balance.

There is no goal or destination in this wellness practice—it’s all about being mindful and continuing to grow. When you can let go of expectations and just embrace the present moment with gratitude, you may be surprised what meditation can do for you.

We hope this five-step process simplifies meditation and helps give you a good start on practicing. If you liked this article, you may also enjoy 14 Adaptogens for Stress Support and 6 Tips to Reduce Stress

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Your friends at Swanson

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Sources

1. Pokorski M, Suchorzynska A. Psychobehavioral Effects of Meditation. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018;1023:85-91. doi: 10.1007/5584_2017_52. PMID: 28647925.


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