Meditation is everywhere these days, receiving glowing endorsements from doctors, celebrities, yoga teachers, CEOs, and everyone in between. Though meditation has become more widespread, many people still see it as esoteric or complicated and believe they don’t know how to meditate.
Numerous styles of meditation exist, some involving mantras, visualizations, or other specific techniques. But meditating can be as simple as taking some time to do nothing. Many people begin by simply sitting still and breathing – even just for a few minutes to start.
If you’re ready to find out how to get started with meditation, keep reading.
How to Get Started With Meditation
How to Meditate
All you need to do is sit down in a comfortable position. The floor, a chair, a couch, a yoga mat, or even a bed all work perfectly fine. Rest your hands on your legs or in your lap.
Close your eyes and sit as tall as you can, while keeping your body – especially your shoulders and hips – relaxed. Take some deep breaths in and out through your nose, and bring all your attention to your breathing. You’re meditating!
Ways to Meditate
If you’re new to meditating, it can be useful to count the breaths as you sit. Simply count each inhale and exhale, starting over again when you get to ten (or if you lose track).
You can also choose a mantra to repeat silently. While there are a nearly infinite number of possible mantras, a common one for new meditators is “Sat Nam.” It is translated many different ways, but common interpretation include “There is one truth” and “I see your true nature.”
Another simple meditation technique is the body scan, which can be done sitting or lying down on the back. To practice the scan, simply bring your attention to one body part at a time, slowly making your way from the toes all the way up to the head. This is a technique that can be done in just a couple minutes, or over half an hour.
People can practice these and other techniques on their own, but listening to recordings of guided meditations can also be useful. They offer more structure, keep track of time, and include a beginning and ending to bring the practitioner into and out of the meditation. Recordings are available for nearly any tradition and technique.
Recordings can be downloaded or streamed live from the Internet. Dozens of meditation apps also keep track of things like number of sessions completed, amount of time spent meditating, or specific meditations practiced. Some common apps include HeadSpace, Insight Timer, and Aura, all of which are popular with beginners.
Whether you choose to practice with a recording or on your own, meditation is truly much simpler and more accessible than many people believe. You don’t need special cushions or candles, and you definitely don’t have to sit in a certain position. All you need is a little bit of discipline to carve a few minutes out of your day and some patience to see where it goes.
Also note that aerial yoga can be a great way to add an additional element of relaxation and quiet meditation into your life.
Five Benefits of Meditation
Consistent meditation practice can boost your health and quality of life. Many types of yoga incorporate meditation to some degree, so anyone reading this is probably already aware of many of the benefits of the practice. Here’s how meditation can improve your own well-being.
Helps to Beat Stress
Stress and tension are major contributors to psychosomatic ailments. Constant stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Meditation is a relaxing activity that reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol. It can help you meet the demands of everyday life in a calm and composed manner.
Regular meditation practice can help improve your mood. This can boost your self-confidence and enable you to perform at your best. Meditation helps to overcome negative emotions and feelings. You are sure to become more confident and assured with consistent practice.
Some forms of meditation involve concentrating on a mantra or an image. Meditators learn to ignore passing thoughts and focus their mind single-pointedly on the object of concentration. Thus, this practice can help you concentrate better in daily life. If your attention strays, you will learn to bring it back and focus again on the job at hand.
Regular meditation develops the right brain, which improves the practitioner’s creative potential. You will learn to think out of the box and come up with innovative solutions and answers to everyday issues. A research study published in the journal Frontiers in Cognition reveals that meditation practice improved participants’ ability to think creatively and generate fresh ideas. Meditation can also help to overcome creative blocks caused by repetitive thought patterns.
Meditation can boost your productivity by improving your ability to perform tasks more quickly and competently. You will also use less physical and mental energy to accomplish your daily tasks. Not surprisingly, top companies like Google and Facebook encourage their employees to practice meditation, and even send them to training programs to learn the practice. You know your company has the well-being of its employees in mind if it places such an emphasis on meditation.
Meditation is easy to learn and practice, and costs almost nothing if you learn a technique from the Internet. Experiment with various meditation methods to select the right one for your mind and capacity, and persevere with the technique to fully experience the benefits.
Jen Ambrose is a yoga teacher and freelance writer currently traveling in Southeast Asia.