Let’s face it, meditation can be intimidating as hell, right? There’s so much conflicting information about what makes a good meditation practice. Plus, who can actually stop thinking for more than ten minutes? Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through four easy ways to meditate as a beginner.
But before we dive into some ideas to get you going, I want to break down some meditation myths.
Myths About Meditation
One of the reasons meditation is so intimidating is because there’s a lot of dogma around what makes a good practice. Do you need to sit in silence every day? For how long? How do you sit?
It’s a lot and to be honest, most of the “rules” to meditating are BS.
So before you dive in, know that the following myths aren’t true:
- Meditation is about emptying your thoughts – Actually, this is impossible. Your brain won’t stop thinking, that’s what it’s designed to do. When you find yourself distracted, remember that it’s no big deal and return to your focus when you can. That’s all meditation is, redirection.
- You have to sit in the right posture to meditate – You don’t need to sit cross-legged in your all-white robes to meditate. Do what feels comfortable. Sit in a chair or lay on your back. Sometimes, I like to meditate in a restorative yoga posture. You can also do a walking meditation. There’s no right or wrong.
- You have to be super consistent – Some teachers will tell you that you have to meditate every day or for certain periods of time. In teacher training, I was told it’s best to try meditating for 1-2 hours every day. That’s intimidating as hell! I say, do what you can when you can. Spare a few minutes when possible or longer when you can.
The biggest advice I have when starting meditation? Practice self compassion.
When you find your mind wandering, forgive yourself and return to the meditation. If you forget to meditate, be kind to yourself.
THAT is the most important step to meditation.
Four ways to meditate
Of course, there are hundreds of ways to meditate. The list below is just some of my favorite recommendations.
Guided meditations are amazing because they lead you through a focused practice. Some meditations focus on repeating powerful affirmations to give you a boost of energy while others may be more focused on a visual journey.
You can use an app, such as Calm, to find a variety of meditation choices or try YouTube. With so many options, you can hop on and search for “Meditation for Stress Relief” or “15 Minute Self Love Meditation.”
You can control the topic, the length, etc. which makes it feel a lot less intimidating.
Count to Ten
Sounds too simple, right? That’s kind of the point!
For this meditation practice, all you need to do is count from one to ten over and over again. Of course, your mind will naturally wander and when it does, you may find your subconscious counting well beyond ten.
This practice is simply about noticing when you get off track and returning back to one. You can set a timer for a couple minutes of practice or just complete the meditation when you feel finished.
Focus on the Breath
This is my favorite way to meditate because we get the added benefit of controlled breath. When we pay attention to our breathing, we tend to slow down and control each inhale and exhale. This slowing of the breath also helps to calm stress and anxiety in under a minute. Powerful stuff!
To focus on the breath, you can do a similar counting process, counting the inhale and the exhale, perhaps trying to make it longer throughout the practice. Alternatively, you can simply notice the way the breath feels on the body. Notice the coolness of the inhale through the nose and the warmth of the exhale, etc.
Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh suggests the simple practice of repeating the following phrase in your mind:
“Breathing in, I know that I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I’m breathing out.”
You can also try different breathing exercises as an alternative form of meditation.
Don’t feel like closing your eyes for a meditation? That’s cool. Try a meditation that focuses your attention on something visual in front of you.
I really enjoy a meditation practice watching a candle flame or the smoke dancing off the end of an incense stick. You can also focus attention on a painting, mandala, or landscape in front of you.
The goal here is to keep your attention fully focused on what’s in front of you. Take notice of all the little details. If you find your mind thinking about something else, forgive yourself and return your focus to what’s in front of you.
Watch This Video Explanation
For a quick explanation of these meditation practices, watch this:
Meditation can really be that simple!
There’s no need to complicate it or beat yourself up for “not doing it right.” If you try it, in any form, you’re doing it! Be kind and patient with yourself, as it will probably feel uncomfortable at first.
If you still feel you’re struggling with a seated or focused meditation that I’ve described above, try an active meditation. You can get similar effects by focusing your mind on an art project, by going on a silent walk, or even practicing yoga.
Tell me: What meditation practice are you going to try this week? Make a commitment in the comments below!
Cheering you on,