A Quick Beginners Guide to Meditation
Meditation is scientifically proven to help anxiety, depression, insomnia, lower your blood pressure and improve your mood. The problem is that many newcomers don’t know where to begin. There are many myths surrounding meditation that keep people from even starting. The truth is meditation can be done anywhere, in any position, at any time, by anyone, religious or not. The following is a quick step by step guide to get you meditating in seconds.
A great resource for learning how to meditate is Zazn Meditation App, available in the app store.
1) Take a moment to eliminate distractions. Ideally when you’re making time to meditate it’s best to silence your phone, close your laptop, and perhaps darken the lighting in the room. The idea here is to eliminate any unnecessary distractions from interrupting your meditation.
2) Get comfy but not too comfy. It’s best to get into a comfortable position that you can stay awake and alert in. This could be sitting in a chair with your hands on your lap and your back upright. You could also lay on your back in your bed or on the ground. If you think you might fall asleep it’s best to be sitting upright as this takes more effort. You don’t want this position to be forced or too rigid so decide what works for you. Once you’ve found a position that works for you, you can begin to close your eyes.
3) Breathe. Hey you know how to do this! In meditation it’s common practice to use consistent things like breathing as “anchors” to bring our focus back to when we get distracted. Start by taking a deep breath in through your nose. Hold your breath for three seconds and exhale slowly out through your mouth.
4) Don’t be too hard on yourself. At this point your mind is probably drifting off and full of thoughts like, “I need to text Emily back…when was the last time I cooked dinner? I should probably save money tonight and do that…I haven’t heard from-” and that’s ok. You’re not trying to stop any of these thoughts from happening. When they arise simply recognize them for what they are and return your focus to your anchor, in this case your breath. Thoughts are going to arise whether this is your first time meditating or your 100th. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t seem to stay focused on your breath. It is perfectly normal. Meditation isn’t about stopping the thoughts but rather recognizing them from an observer’s standpoint and then returning to your anchor.
5) Recognize external distractions. Hear the noises going on around you. This could be the construction going on outside of your apartment or the birds chirping. Just like you recognize your thoughts as they arise, recognize these sounds for what they are, just sounds, and return your attention to your breath.
6) Continue this practice for 5-20 minutes. Ten minutes is a good sweet spot for most beginners. If you feel like going for longer that’s great. For those who find it difficult to take the time out of their day for meditation I recommend at least 5 minutes. There is almost no way you can’t give something 5 minutes of your time per day! As the saying goes…
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
7) As you finish begin to return your focus to the outside world. Finish your meditation by taking a final deep breath. As you exhale slowly open your eyes. Remember to be mindful of how you feel as you finish this exercise. Note your state of mind and pat yourself on the back for taking some time to become more mindful.
Meditation, like most practices, takes time to develop. As studies have shown the benefits of meditation such as, improved focus and memory, can develop after just a couple of weeks of practice. Remember to try to make time to meditate for at least 5 minutes everyday.