Meditation for Beginners!

We’ve all heard about the transformative benefits of a meditation practise. People rave about the life-changing results, the access to peace of mind, reduced stress, anxiety and depression. Many claim to be addicted to their sessions, partaking every day, saying that they can’t live without it.

Meditation for Beginners!

But here’s the question, how can we gain access to this blissful state of relaxation when we have no idea where to start?

The truth is, meditation is a very simple exercise that most people are already familiar with and are, perhaps, practising unconsciously as they go about their daily routines.

So, what is meditation and what is all the hype about? 

Unfortunately, despite the marketing, meditation isn’t a one stop shop, fix everything tool. It’s very simply, a decision that we make to be more aware and present in our daily lives. It is a methodology used to train the brain while relaxing the body and becoming more aware of our environment. 

So how might you be meditating already?

Think about something that you enjoy doing, something that feels easy and relaxing, something that comes naturally, that you don’t feel the need to analyse? Perhaps it’s something as simple as washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, drawing, walking to class, or listening to music? 

Humans naturally engage in seemingly mundane activities every day. There are moments when we allow ourselves to unconsciously shut off from the busyness and pressures of daily life and focus only on the task at hand. 

What a formal meditation practise invites us to do, is to spend a period of time to consciously become aware of the patterns of our thoughts, the sensations in our bodies and feedback from our surroundings. 

Meditation is not about pausing your thoughts, or trying to change something. The aim is to observe yourself from a neutral point of view. Ultimately, this helps you to cultivate compassion for yourself and others, as well as patience, increased focus and a healthier body (because you are taking a little extra time to purposely pay attention to your body’s needs).

Meditation for Beginners!

So, how do you start?

The easiest way to begin a practise is to follow a guided meditation. There are thousands of resources available at our fingertips. Insight Timer is a great app – it’s free and offers a wide variety of beginners practices. Feel free to browse through many different formats to find one that you enjoy.

The secret is – please don’t put any pressure on yourself as you get started! Find what works for you and begin there…

Commit to just 2 or 3 minutes a day to begin, then increase the practise slowly when you feel ready. It doesn’t matter when or where you practise. You can sit in any position that’s comfortable for you. If you need to lie down, lie down. No need to create more stress trying to meditate ‘properly’. There is no right or wrong way to practise. 

Meditation for Beginners!

Here is a simple meditation practise to get you started –

  • Find a comfortable place to sit, ideally with a straight back
  • If you’re back doesn’t feel supported feel free to lie down, or lean back against a chair
  • Perhaps you want to begin your routine at the same time each day? If this isn’t possible, do it whenever it works
  • If comfortable, close your eyes
  • Begin with a deep breath. If you can breathe in and out through your nose, this is great, if you have sinus congestion, breathe through your mouth as needed
  • Notice how that first breath felt?
  • Begin counting your next breath in for a slow count of 4, followed by a slow rhythmic exhalation for a count of 4
  • Notice if you can direct your inhalations into your lower abdomen and lower back
  • As you exhale relax your shoulders, jaw and pelvis
  • Continue this breathing for as long as possible, if you forget, just come back to it again
  • As you watch your breath, begin to also notice your body
  • Slowly scan each body region and without a need to change anything, observe if there are any sensations in different areas
  • If something feels uncomfortable just notice that. If it’s disturbing, feel free to move and find a more comfortable position
  • Thoughts will most likely arise and distract you. Observe the thoughts and come back to watching your breath. They don’t require analysis
  • When you feel ready to complete your meditation session, take a deep breath in and out. Stretch your body as it feels good. Notice your surroundings again and return to your day

Again, this is a suggestion of one way to begin a practise. If this doesn’t feel accessible, feel free to try other recorded guided sessions that may suit you best.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and highly stressed, don’t force yourself to sit still, this may not help. Only practise when it feels right for you.

Here’s to feeling renewed, refreshed and being more present throughout your day. We hope you enjoy the benefits!

The Switch