A beginner's guide to meditation
Want to start meditating but not sure where to begin? We explore what meditation is, how to get started, and some apps that may help.
Some studies suggest that practising meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day can deliver mental and physical health benefits. Among them are decreased stress and improved mood.
What is meditation?
Meditation has featured throughout history in various forms, primarily in religious contexts. These days, however, it has also become a popular mainstream, non-secular practice.
There are many types of meditation, including transcendental meditation, Zen Buddhist meditation, Kundalini yoga meditation and what modern psychology calls ‘practising mindfulness’. What they all have in common is that they encourage focus on the present moment. There are styles and techniques such as guided meditations, breathing exercises, focusing one’s attention on a candle as one meditates, or repeating a single word or mantra.
The point of meditation is not, as beginners often mistakenly think, to empty your mind of all thoughts. It is more about learning how to observe your thoughts as they come and go, without judging or trying to change them, and then bringing your focus gently back to your meditation and the current moment.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation may benefit your mental and physical health by helping to:
- Decrease stress.
- Increase feelings of wellbeing.
- Encourage relaxation and sleep.
- Improve mental focus and attention.
How to get started
Start slowly and build up: Begin with even just a couple of minutes twice a day and increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable. Remember practising regularly is more important than how long you mediate for, especially when you first start.
Create a routine and ritual: Try to meditate in the same place and at the same time of day, as this can help you settle into a regular practice. Rituals such as drawing curtains, putting on a specific piece of calming music or lighting a candle can also help.
Meditate in the morning: The morning can be a great time of day to meditate as your mind will likely feel calmer and clearer and you may be less likely to be disturbed.
Seek guidance: Take a meditation class or read up on the topic to help you understand the theory and intention behind the practice.
Three free guided meditations for beginners
Guided meditation can be a great way to begin your meditation journey as they can keep track of time for you and even guide you through meditations.
Why not try out our three guided meditation tracks below:
And remember, if you find meditation difficult (or even a bit boring) at first, this is entirely normal. However, with regular practice and perseverance you may find meditation becomes an enjoyable part of your day.
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