Nobody needed to convince me to try meditation. I had heard good things about it and was curious. Like many though, my first question was ‘what do I have to do?’
Below you’ll find 3 simple ‘how to’ steps for meditation for beginners. These will enable you to begin to incorporate meditation into your life. This only takes a couple of minutes a day. There is also a guided audio version on Youtube below that you can use if you prefer.
This is a simple breath-focused meditation that you can do anywhere. It is also an approach that is ideal for an on-going practice that easily fits in with all the other commitments and activities we have in our daily life.
Meditation has many benefits and it’s widely used today in the healthcare, well-being and even business sectors.
Its benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure, stress and anxiety, improving stress-related conditions such as skin disorders, improving heart health, breathing capacity, healing rates and sleep, reducing and relieving pain, lowering cholesterol levels, preserving and increasing energy and enhancing mood;
- Creating calm, perspective, confidence and clarity, the ability to meet life’s challenges better and to have a sense of balance, well-being and greater enjoyment of life;
- Providing a means of looking deeper within, discovering inner guidance and our life’s purpose, developing compassion, contentment, love and a greater sense of connection both with those around us and with a higher source.
In yoga, the purpose of the physical and breathing techniques we practice is to prepare our body and mind for meditation. If you aren’t yet a seasoned yogi don’t worry though, anyone can benefit from the simple technique I outline below.
Here’s what to ‘do’:
Ideally practice first thing in the morning to have the best possible start to your day.
- Sit very comfortably, indoors or outdoors – either on a chair with your feet flat on the ground or on a cushion(s) on the floor with your legs crossed or folded underneath you. Hands resting on your thighs/knees. The spine is as straight as possible, while respecting its natural curves.
- Set a timer for 2 minutes. Close your eyes (or keep them slightly open if this is more comfortable for you, the gaze lowered). Focus on a place of ease in your body to feel as relaxed as possible. Breathing through your nose, bring your attention to your breath – without trying to change or control it – wherever you feel most drawn to it in your body. This could be at the tip of the nose, in the chest, in your belly or somewhere else. This is the focal point for your mind. Keep your mind on your breath and observe any sensations you feel with it. Cold, warm, smooth, uneven, shallow or deep. Whatever arises.
- Whenever your mind wanders away from the breath (and it is perfectly natural for it to wander, several times), just notice this and gently and kindly bring your mind back to focus on the breath, without getting involved in thoughts or stories. Acknowledge and allow thoughts to pass and disappear like bubbles, popping back effortlessly into the air. When your timer rings, open your eyes, slowly stand up and continue with your day. Don’t judge or analyse the last 2 minutes, just come back to meditate the next time with a blank slate.
The benefits of meditation are cumulative. As with any good habit, repetition is important. Try to practice every day, perhaps for a set number of days initially, and see what it brings to your life.
If you feel inclined, practise more than once a day, for example before lunch and/or bedtime. This will help you to retain that calm and confidence from the meditation throughout the day, and to sleep well.
As time goes by and you become more and more comfortable with the technique, by all means increase the practice time, perhaps a minute at a time, to 5 or 10 minutes.
In daily life, if you ever find yourself edging towards becoming stressed, agitated or anxious at work or in a particular situation, try to stop and focus on your breathing even just for a few moments and notice how helpful this is.
Here is the audio version:
Enjoy your meditation and this time for taking care of yourself. It will transform your everyday life.
It can also be helpful and enjoyable to join a meditation group, for a feeling of community and the support of a teacher, particularly if you wish to enquire more deeply.
Photo: author’s own