Mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, the two tend to work symbiotically! Healthiness in one tends to promote healthiness in the other. Most of us know how to break a sweat in the gym but can feel lost when attempting to take our mental health into our own hands. One of the most tried and true ways to start taking steps towards bettering your mental health is to incorporate meditation into your life.
You may be asking yourself, "Ok, but how do I start? What do I do? What am I supposed to feel? How do I know it's working? How do I know if I'm doing it "right"?"
Here is our guide to simple meditation for beginners!
Before we get started, I want to answer some lingering questions so you can begin your meditation with confidence.
Starting a meditation practice is simple: just be. Whether you have 1 minute or 20, just allow yourself to sit and be still for a few moments. Closing your eyes is a wonderful way of taking yourself out of your surroundings and into your own mind.
When first setting up a meditation practice, you may use an app like Headspace or Calm for a guided practice. These apps are useful in getting you back to being present and focusing on a particular set of thoughts. You don't need an app to "meditate correctly" - you just need to be accepting of yourself and your thoughts.
Often times, we can get hung up on doing things correctly and feel that there are only a few avenues to getting to a goal. There is no set goal with meditation. Things will come out of it that you never expected - you'll see.
There is no right or wrong when meditating. The practice of meditation is to allow your thoughts and feelings to flow through you, rather than fester inside of you. By allowing thoughts to come to your head, accepting them for what they are and letting them leave your head on their own, you relinquish power from those thoughts.
Alright, now let's get started...
What You’ll Need
Something to sit on, like a meditation cushion, bench, chair, bolster or just a comfortable floor.
Optional: a timer
How to Sit
Keep back neutral; if you need support, find a cushion or use a wall. Shoulders over hips, head over shoulders...
Eyes can be open or closed
Don’t worry about your hands
Eyes look slightly down, even if they’re closed!
How Long to Meditate
Start small. 3-5 minutes. Once you’ve built a comfortable habit, slowly increase to 10, 15, then 20 minutes. Try to create a practice by building it into your routine, at the same time every morning or evening.
Bring your focus to your breath. Concentrate on the sensation or rhythm of your breath as you breathe in and out. If you need a bit more focus you can inhale for a count of 3, hold one moment, and exhale for a count of 4.
More so than counting, you are simply connecting your mind and your body through focusing on your breathing. No need to count, if that doesn't work for you!
You can also choose a word or two to meditate on if you want to create or refresh any intentions in your life. For example, inhale on, "Peace," exhale on, "calm."
Notice the sounds around you. If you’re outside, maybe that’s the sound of the breeze or a soccer game in the park. If you’re inside, maybe it’s the running of your dishwasher or the sounds of traffic going by your window. Notice the sounds, but stay focused on your breath.
If your mind starts to wander, that’s ok! Let it wander briefly, then bring your focus back to your breath.
Need More Guidance?
There are lots of apps that offer guided meditation for beginners. Our favorites are:
- The Mindfulness App
- Insight Timer
A regular meditation practice won’t solve all your life’s problems - but it can change how you react and relate to your circumstances, and can offer a calm, still mind amongst life’s many storms!