Meditation gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, makes it easier to focus your attention, and has even been shown to improve test scores!
There are so many more benefits to learning how to meditate. So what are you waiting for?
Read our tips and start meditating!
1. Make a Plan to Start Meditating
There’s nothing wrong with just starting to mediate without giving it any previous thought. But to make your meditation habit stick, it’s wise to make a plan.
Think about when would be the best time for you to do it. When are you least likely to be interrupted?
Then think about how you will remind yourself to meditate. A simple daily calendar alarm on your smartphone may do the trick. Or you can install a meditation app that can send you daily alerts.
Once you have your commitment and plan in place, you are ready to start meditating.
2. Pick your Meditation Spot
You can meditate anywhere. And you don’t always have to be in the same spot to make it work.
But for beginners, it helps to meditate in a private spot where you feel comfortable and are sure not to be disturbed.
This could be your bedroom with the door closed. You can set up a meditation corner with a comfortable pillow, blankets, or clean yoga mat to sit on.
Or you can sit in a chair or on your bed. Wherever you choose, try to make that space inviting and clutter-free.
Feel free to use crystals, incense, or candles if you wish; but it is not necessary.
3. Get Comfortable
Choose whatever position you prefer, whether cross-legged or simply sitting up straight on a chair.
Wear comfortable clothes. Take off any belts or ties that may cause tightness or discomfort.
4. Set a Timer
When you first start meditating, two minutes may feel like a lifetime. So use the timer on your smartphone to set a timer for however long you want to meditate.
Some people find it helpful to start meditating for two minutes and gradually build up to ten minutes. Ten minutes a day isn’t a long time, yet it’s all you really need to reap the rewards of habitual meditation.
Remember to set your phone to “do not disturb” or silent so that you won’t be interrupted during your practice.
5. Focus on your Breath
If you feel okay with it, you can close your eyes. If that doesn’t work for you, look at one spot not too far away with a soft, unfocused gaze.
Then start to pay attention to your breath. There’s no need to try to make your breath long or deep. Just notice what’s happening in your body.
Maybe you feel the cool air going into your nostrils. Or you might feel the sensation of your belly rising and falling. Find any parts of your body that feel the sensation of breathing.
Then, you can start counting your breaths. Start at one when you inhale and count two as you exhale. Try to get to 10 without getting distracted.
Once you get to 10, start again at one.
6. Come Back When Your Mind Wanders
It is inevitable that your mind will wander. That’s OK. Your brain is programmed to do that.
A lot of people think meditation is about focusing your mind to be clear and free of thoughts. And while that’s certainly one outcome of meditation, it’s unlikely to happen in the beginning.
So when you start meditating, just come back to the breath and start counting at one whenever your mind wanders.
Don’t become frustrated or discouraged if you can’t even make it to three before starting again.
Think of your thoughts as fluffy clouds floating across a blue sky. Imagine that you are up higher than the clouds. Try to let your thoughts drift by without engaging with them.
Be gentle with yourself. There is no need for harsh self-talk during meditation. Simply smile and return to your breath whenever your mind wanders.
7. Do a Body Scan
Some people don’t really find counting breaths very helpful. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, feel free to try a body scan technique.
To do a body scan, you will focus your awareness on each part of your body, one at a time.
Start at the soles of your feet. What sensations do you feel? Is it hot, cold, itchy, or sore?
Then gradually move to your toes, the tops of your feet, your ankles, calves, shins, knees and so on. Continue until you reach the top of your head.
Remember, don’t judge or try to change what you are feeling in your body. Just be aware of the sensations that are there.
Ending Your Meditation
When you are done with your meditation, slowly ease out of it. You don’t want to jar yourself into movement.
Bring sensation back into your body by wiggling your toes or fingers. Take a few seconds (or however long you need) to be aware of your body and surroundings.
Then slowly open your eyes. Instead of jumping up and continuing with your day, you might sit for another minute and reflect on your experience.
You can give attention to the thoughts that came up during your practice. Some people like to smile and think about what they are grateful for before moving on with their day.
Throughout the remainder of your day, try to find small moments where you recall the feelings of clarity and focus you had during meditation.
Make an effort to take a couple of deep breaths and try to reawaken the peaceful feelings from your meditation.
Final Word on Meditating
Thanks for taking the time to read this guide on how to start meditating. Some people complicate meditation when it doesn’t need to be.
By sitting comfortably and focusing on your breath or sensations in your body for just a couple of minutes a day, you tap into the restorative powers of meditation.
Before you go, check out these standing yoga poses to help you improve your balance.