A How-to Meditation Guide for Beginners
I don’t often bring up meditation in a conversation for fear of sounding like a seventies hippie. But truly, I credit meditation for saving my health, sanity, and making every day that much better.
When I had my second child, I was an overwhelmed, chronically stressed mom.
As a result, I began having lots of stomach pain. I originally thought it was what I ate. But changing my diet didn’t work. Medication didn’t either.
And eventually, I realized it was a result of how emotionally taxed I felt. I was in pain often and realized I HAD to take better care of myself, or I was going to wind up in the hospital. So, as I ran through my options. I researched how to meditate for beginners. Then, I committed.
And years later, I’ve never looked back. It centers me in a way nothing else can. I couldn’t live without it.
Why Meditation Can Change Your Life
The Science of meditation is mounting, and it’s no longer a hippie thing. Just ask Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres. In a world of chronic stress and anxiety, this can be your anchor (source).
First, meditation lowers your cortisol levels, therefore lowering your stress and blood pressure. A recent study also found that it can increase the size of your hippocampus, which regulates learning and memory.
Thereby making you more productive with less stress. And who doesn’t want that?
Now, let’s check out how to meditate for beginners…
First, basic meditation is very simple. The steps are outlined below, but read on for more resources and tips for success!
- Simply find a soft spot to sit.
- Set a timer. 5-10-15-20 minutes
- Sit up straight, and start with a few deep breaths.
- Then count your breathing. In and out.
- Scan down your body if you’d like, but the main objective is to focus on your breaths whether in your nose or abdomen. When you notice your breathing stray (it will MANY times) gently bring yourself back to the breath. Continue until the timer goes off.
Or check out this basic 5-minute meditation for a more guided (free) example!
Essential Apps To Try
Now, as a beginner, I highly recommend trying a guided meditation app. I’m not sure I would have stuck with it for the long term without a gentle voice helping me find my way.
The Headspace App is my first love, and the savior of my sanity. Plus, the British voice is to die for! I spent a full year doing just the stress meditation. Over. And over.
In this app, there are meditations for anything you can think of. Sleeping, eating, happiness, anxiety, etc. This one remains my favorite, but mostly because I associate it with lifting me out of a tough mental time.
The Calm app is a new find for me, based on TONS of raving reviews. It has a multitude of options just like headspace, and I’ve enjoyed the 7 days of Gratitude series as well as the deep sleep meditation. The kids and I even do the soundscapes before bed. It’s been helping them wind down before their bedtime.
*The one downside to this app is that the narrator talks a lot. I would have appreciated that when learning how to meditate as a beginner, but as an intermediate, it’s less likable.
Insight Timer (Free)
If you’re looking for a hands-off (free) alternative this is a great option. When I meditate on my own, I use the timer on the Insight Timer app. There are meditation videos to explore there as well. At last glance, it boasted 32,000 free meditations to try meditating without paying a dime.
This video has a bit more of my story! Then check out the tips to get the most out of your new practice!
10 Tips to Make Meditation Successful
These tips have all been crucial for developing a practice that has now lasted years. Without them, I’d be lost.
1. Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing it
Who does meditation benefit?
Of course, it benefits you, but who else? Your kids benefit from a calmer mom. Your spouse benefits from a less stressed partner. And your employees benefit from a focused boss.
The first thing I do is remind myself of the people I love that benefit from my daily sits.
2. Find a Great Time
I’ve found that morning meditations work well as long as I’m not doing it after I work. Similarly, night meditation works really well just before bed.
Experiment, and choose a time that works well for you. If you can’t devote consistent time, you won’t be able to stick to the practice.
3. Start Small
If you’re having a hard time committing, start small and work your way up. Start with just 3 minutes and add a minute daily.
Related Post: How to Build Better Habits, From the Expert
4. Begin With a Guided Version
A 7 day (free) trial is how I began, and I believe it’s the BEST way to start. It helps tremendously to have a voice telling you what to do when you’ve never meditated before.
There are many different types of meditation out there.
Maybe breathing isn’t for you, but a body scan works wonders. Or perhaps you benefit from visualizing a healing place or doing a gratitude meditation. Try different things to find what works for you. I like to bounce around to keep it fresh.
6. Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
After a few times, you will realize that your mind is like an overactive toddler. And it is very easy to get mad at yourself when your thoughts bounce around.
However, it’s crucial to come back without judgment when you wander. It’s part of the process.
7. Commit to at Least 10 Days
If you’re going to go for it. Commit. You can’t expect to get all of the feel-good results if you don’t stick to it. Like everything, good things take time.
Do it regularly for a period of time, then decide how you feel about it.
8. Do it Anywhere
Aim for a spot that’s quiet, but don’t freak out when it’s not.
If you’re a parent, it’s hard to be completely alone. Do what you can with what you have, and get used to meditating in different situations.
9. Find Accountability
New habits are formed more easily when you find a community, do a challenge, or get a buddy to do it with you. Use the power of accountability to get you started on this journey.
10. Notice How you Feel
This is my favorite part! When you’re finished, take note of how your body and mind feel. It’s almost always much calmer and more relaxed than when you started. Celebrate and enjoy your calm state!
Um, What if I’m Horrible at it?
Spoiler alert. You will stink at first. Meditation can be hard. Or at the very least awkward. (We do hard things though!)
The good news? There is no doing it wrong. Your mind wanders and you bring it back. The more you practice, the better you get. And even then, you’ll have days that your mind will jump. It happens.
Something to Consider With Meditation
One of my biggest lessons from motherhood is that adding self-care is a must for a happy life. And meditation is a biggie.
I can feel the difference in my day without it. Do I want to be a sick, stressed-out mama? Or a calm one? The decision is easy, and it’s possible with a little practice.
Give yourself the gift of meditation and you’ll never look back.
What are your tips for how to meditate for beginners? Please share if you’ve tried meditation!
Other self-care articles you may enjoy…
- How to Create a Soothing Self Care Routine
- What to do When You Need a Self Care Day
- How to Create a Self Care Checklist to be Healthy & Happy