A Beginner's Guide to Meditation: How to Meditate and Why It Matters
When you think of meditation, what comes to mind?
For many people, they imagine monks, or other spiritual practitioners sitting in silence for hours. While this is one form of meditation, it's not the only path.
Anyone can meditate, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs. The mind connects us all.
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Why start meditating?
We live in a fast, constantly moving world. It's easy to feel like we’re stuck in a whirl-wind of competing priorities, responsibilities, distractions, goals, and the to-do lists required to make them happen.
Chaos and stress increase cortisol levels in our brain, forcing our mind into a fight-or-flight state. Which can leave us feeling helpless and reactionary. From this mental state, we can not act rationally, or with effective problem solving.
Many of us turn to meditation for peace and calm in our lives. Science has caught up with some amazing, insightful research results over the past decades that prove what OG-meditators have said all along.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of a regular meditation practice:
- Meditation reduces stress, anxiety, and chronic pain
- It improves focus, concentration, and sleep quality
- It reduces inflammation, blood pressure, and the risks of cardiovascular disease
- Meditation has been shown to change brain structure and improve cognition
- It can also improve relationships. As we get to know ourselves better, it invites us to adopt more conscious styles of living
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How to Get Started
Another great thing about meditation? We can meditate anytime, anywhere. All you need is a quiet space to sit or lie down comfortably.
Before committing to a consistent meditation practice, ask yourself: What do you want to get out of your meditation practice?
There are many different types of meditation and some may be more suitable for your needs than others.
Do you want to gain clarity or get better focus? Do you want to learn to relax, or empty your mind? Do you prefer sitting still, or moving your body? Do you like silence, want to work with a mantra, or listen to someone else's instructions?
There is a form of meditation for every mind. Once you’re clear on your goals, you can choose the right type of meditation. We’ve listed three very popular types of meditation suitable for beginners.
Three easy ways to get started
If it’s hard for you not to wander off in a stream of consciousness, or daydream when sitting in silence, this meditation style is a great start.
Many new practitioners find it easier to follow another’s voice guiding them into relaxation than relying on their mind to stay focused.
Access to guided meditations is easy. There are many meditation apps to choose from (such as Headspace, or BMF Founder, Jenn’s favorite meditation app: Waking Up, by Sam Harris). Youtube is an amazing free resource for online guided meditations. Or, attend a group meditation session to practice in person!
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This meditation style focuses on heightening your senses as you sit in silence. It helps us to become more aware of our sensations. This meditation style also focuses on the breath.
Don’t stress when your mind wanders. This is extremely normal. It takes regular practice to stay focused, but gets easier over time with dedication, consistency, patience, and persistence. Gently bring your attention back to your center when your thoughts are drifting off.
Try not to judge your wandering mind. Stay kind to yourself.
Another great practice for those who find it difficult to sit in silence.
This practice has been around for thousands of years and owes its success to simplicity: chanting (or reciting) a mantra over and over for a certain period.
The repetition and harmonic vibration of the words bring relaxation. It’s very empowering to chant your goals with deep breaths. Always remember: what we think, we become.
When you start practicing regularly, you will usually work with an existing mantra. “Om Namah Shivaya” is a widely used mantra, steeped in Hindu history. It means: “My salutations to the Shiva, the auspicious and gracious one”, or “I bow to Shiva”. Feel empowered to choose any inspirational phrase or affirmation that rings true to you. Mantra meditations can be done solo or in a group.
Our biggest tips for success?... Commit to a daily practice, however short, and keep track. This is where meditation apps help! Consistency is key! Manage your expectations and remain patient. In time, you will feel the difference!
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Peace and calm is worth the work and the wait. We gave a glimpse of some benefits of meditation, and offered some ways to get started. We hope that after reading this article, you will give meditation a try!!
We’d love to know about your meditation practice. Tell us more! Are you experienced in meditation? Or new on your meditation journey? Come one, come all!
Please let us know how it goes!!
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