Meditation isn’t all about chanting and having transcendental experiences, and only for yogis and other seriously enlightened beings.
The practice of meditation and mindfulness is actually a very useful – and practical – habit to develop, that anyone can get benefit from.
Meditation isn’t all ‘woo woo’ – it is a practice that is backed up by science. It has been shown to lower stress levels, relieve anxiety, and improve decision-making skills.
Research has shown that meditation can literally change your brain.
‘Grey matter’ – the part of your brain rich in neurons – is noticeably increased in the the areas of the brain connected with the important functions of decision making, memory, and emotional regulation.
There are different ways to practice meditation, but the one that most popular – and has shown to provide many positive results – is mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to learn to focus on the present moment. You can do this in many different ways.
You can simply focus on your breathing, or become aware of things around or, or of how you are feeling in the current moment.
The goal with mindfulness meditation is not to change or become a different person. You aren’t focus on improving yourself. You are simply working on becoming more present in your life, and becoming more aware.
It is about developing a sense of awareness, and being able to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation Keeps Your Brain Healthy
By meditating, it activates the part of your brain that promotes – amongst other things – intelligence, empathy, and happiness.
Meditation Makes You More Aware Of Your Body
As you progress with your meditation for beginners practice, you will begin to become more aware of your body.
Becoming more in tune with your body also means that you will easier pick up the signs of stress, unhappiness, and possibly even illness.
Rather than only realizing when your blood pressure is high, or when you are feeling anxious, that something is actually causing you stress, you will realize much sooner by picking up the symptoms of irritation, and tightness in the body.
Meditation Helps You Better Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Studies show that regular meditation improves the ability to regulate emotions in the brain.
Meditators not only feel less stressed, but their cortisol levels reduce measurable, too.
Meditation Helps Improve Sleep
Meditation helps the body learn to relax. This benefit is still helpful by the evening when it is time to get to sleep.
It also helps you fall asleep easier because you will find it easy to move on from thoughts and feelings that cause you stress. You can even do specific meditations to help you sleep quicker and deeper.
Start Meditation For Beginners The Simple Way
If you’ve never tried meditating before – don’t worry. You don’t have to jump right into meditating 20 minutes a day.
Start with just 2 minutes.
I know 2 minutes might sound too easy. But that’s the point.
You want to make it as easy as possible to get started. And then as easy as possible to turn it into a habit.
If it is too challenging in the beginning, you will be less likely to carry on.
As you prepare to begin your first meditation, remember that it isn’t about stopping your thoughts. It is about being aware of them and then letting them go.
Start by finding a comfortable place to sit. No lotus needed here! You can sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, or if that is not comfortable for you – sit a hard chair, with your feet placed on the floor and your back supported.
(I actually recommend a chair to get started, then you won’t have to worry about also trying to sit up straight.) Rest your hands on your knees or at your side – whichever is more comfortable.
Close your eyes. If closing your eyes feel uncomfortable, relax your eyes and eyelids so your eyes are softened. (I can’t close my eyes fully during meditation, so I do this instead.)
Become aware of your breath. Focus on the sensation of air coming in to your body, and then out again as you breathe. Feel your stomach rise and fall with each breath.
Your mind will wander. This is normal. Don’t try to stop your thoughts or feelings entirely. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply return it back to focusing on your breathing.
If you are feeling uncomfortable or itchy – try to pause for a moment before responding to it. The feeling might go away on its own. If it doesn’t, adjust your body or scratch the itch with intention, at the moment you choose.
Be kind to yourself. You will very likely find your mind wandering – and often. If it happens, just bring your mind back to your breath. Don’t get frustrated, or tell yourself you are not good at this. Come back to your breath each time without judgement, or expectation.
Once your two minutes is up, open your eyes, or lift your gaze. Notice the shapes and colors you see in front of you. The sounds around you. Notice your emotions, your thoughts. And how your body is feeling.
And then make the decision for how you would like to continue your day.
Remember to use a very gentle alarm – you don’t want your calm 2 minutes to end with a jarring noise.
How To Turn Meditation Into a Habit
Meditation will only have a positive impact when you do it regularly – and that means daily.
To make anything into a habit, you want to make it easy on yourself. This way you are likely to do it every day.
Increase The Time Gradually
Start with 2 minutes a day. Then after one week, add another two weeks. If this is too much you can add 1 minute extra instead. The goal is to keep making progress.
Each week, add a bit more time until you are 10 minutes a day.
Meditate In The Morning
Starting your day with a meditation practice not only prepares you to be in a good space for the rest of the day, but it also means you won’t skip it.
If you leave it for the end of the day, it is very easy to put it off, and skip it altogether because you are too tired.
Don’t Get Caught Up In The Detail
Don’t worry about the cushion, or finding the perfect spot to sit. Just start. Choose a chair, or even sit on the edge of your bed, and get started.
You aren’t sitting for long in the beginning anyway. Once you increase your time, you figure out a more comfortable spot to sit.
Don’t Worry That You Are Doing It Wrong
This is a very common worry!
There is no perfect way to meditate. So don’t try to do it ‘perfectly’. Just do.
What is more important is to be consistent and do it daily.
And there you have it. Daily meditation for beginners is such a simple, easy practice to start with big benefits – there is no reason for you not to take a seat and give it a try right now.