Meditation For Beginners
Welcome to a simple (which is not quite the same thing easy!) practice that has been proven to dramatically improve the wellbeing of body, mind, and spirit. Meditation, apart from calming the brain and reducing stress, has been scientifically proven to lower the body’s production of the stress hormone (cortisol). This supports the immune system, enabling it to respond better to pain and a variety of other ailments that include sleep problems, digestive difficulties, and depression. Read more
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
According to the Oxford Living Dictionary (OLD, 2017), to meditate is to “Focus one’s mind for a period of time … for spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation”. There are many ways to meditate, but the simplest method for beginners is to sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
IS MEDITATING AGAINST MY BELIEFS?
It is thought that meditation originated in the East, but it is not associated with any particular religion. Certain types of meditation do involve mantras from religious texts or visualizing popular religious images, but it is definitely not compulsory to use them. In order to enjoy the benefits of meditation, there is no need to believe in any deity or God or to abandon your existing religious beliefs.
PREPARING TO MEDITATE
It’s possible to meditate almost anywhere, but a few simple preparations will help you to get the maximum benefits from each session. Here are three things to consider before you meditate:
Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted for at least 15 minutes. It’s not essential to sit on the floor: a comfortable chair is fine, provided that you are able to sit on it in a natural position with your spine gently curved. If you’ll be sitting on the floor, make yourself comfortable on a meditation cushion or mat (or even a towel or a blanket).
If you’re feeling chilly, keep yourself warm during meditation with a blanket or shawl.
Ensure that your tummy isn’t completely empty, but it also shouldn’t be full that you’re uncomfortable
Most people take at least ten minutes to settle their minds down, so you need to allow at least fifteen minutes per meditation session. You won’t be able to relax properly if you’re worried about the time, so time yourself using a digital watch, a mobile phone app or a free online meditation timer. Just make sure that it’s not so noisy that you jump out of your skin at the end of each session!
Some people prefer to meditate in total silence, whereas others do better with light music or other relaxing sounds in the background. If you crave silence but don’t have access to a perfectly quiet place, a pair of earplugs can be a huge help. You can buy earplugs at most chemists or drug stores, or simply unplug the earphones from an electronic device and use those!
If you find a relaxing background noise helpful, choose it with care so that it doesn’t distract you from your meditation session. Some suggestions are the sounds of nature, flutes or pan pipes. Music recorded especially for meditation is also available. You may have to experiment to discover what kind of background noise works best for you.
STARTING A MEDITATION SESSION
You don’t need to sit in the lotus position if you aren’t used to it: simply cross your legs, relax and let your hands rest in your lap. Still resting in the cross-legged position, let your eyelids close gently and your eyes gaze downwards. Take a few slow, deep breaths: breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Let your breathing come naturally; don’t force it. Gradually, your lungs will become fuller and fuller with each breath. Don’t rush it: take as much time as you need to settle your breathing into a slow, steady rhythm.
DURING A MEDITATION SESSION
Once you are breathing deeply, you will already feel calmer and more relaxed. Now, focus on your breathing: be mindful of each breath that you inhale through your nose. Be aware of each breath that you exhale from your mouth. Focus on your breathing for as long as you like. Try to make each breath at least as long as each breath in; a little longer then each breath in if you can. The more used air you can breathe out the more space you make for fresh air to enter your lungs.
NOTE FOR BEGINNERS
When you first start meditating, you may find that your attention strays from your breathing quickly and often. This is perfectly normal. Don’t become frustrated and impatient with yourself – just realize what is happening and gently bring your focus back to your breathing. You will improve with practice; the important thing is just to keep practicing. Even experienced meditators have “off days” when they struggle to attain focus.
ENDING A MEDITATION SESSION
When you are ready to bring your meditation session to a close, gently open your eyes and slowly stand up. Stretch your body and bring your focused mind to the rest of your activities of the day. Congratulations! You’ve meditated!
MAKING MEDITATION A HABIT
In order to obtain the maximum benefits from meditation, you should ideally meditate at least once a day. Some people set aside a certain time each day, while others meditate once upon waking up and again just before sleeping: the choice is yours.
Although meditation may seem like hard work at first, if you keep it up you will soon find yourself enjoying it and looking forward to your daily sessions.
Make meditation a part of your daily self-care activities, and it will become as routine as cleaning your teeth.
AUDIO MEDITATION TOOLS
Learning a new skill all on your own can be tough. Luckily, there are a variety of audio meditation CDs and MP3s on the market to guide you on your path. Guided audio meditation tracks take the guesswork out of the process, as they give you step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow.
By deciding to practice meditation, you have decided to transform your life! Meditation is simple and can be done anywhere. It can help you to relax and understand yourself better and live a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life. Best of all, meditation is free!