Here’s our easy, go-to guide to meditation for beginners with 25 tips on how to start a meditation practice at home.
Congratulations on getting started
If you are reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you are ready to meditate! Congratulations—it’s a great step to take for less stress and more peace of mind.
Meditation may sound simple, but anyone who has tried on their own will know that it can present challenges. For most of us, when we sit to meditate, the mind is everywhere but in the present moment! And that is normal, so don’t worry.
Most first-time meditators find it difficult to sit in silence with the eyes closed, doing nothing. So if you also find it hard, that’s completely okay.
Welcome to the gang! To makes things super easy, check out this infographic before we dive into the finer details.
What is meditation and what are some of the benefits?
Meditation is the practice of relaxing and bringing the mind to the present moment. It offers many benefits for your body, mind, and spirit. People may have their own reasons to meditate. It is great for your mental health as it brings clarity and peace of mind. It also helps to reduce stress and manage anger. Want mental strength to overcome griefand enhance acceptance? Meditation can help with that. Meditation can even improve your body image!
In need of some quick relaxation right now? If so, you can enjoy this beautiful guided meditation to begin. Find a quiet spot and get ready to meditate: Blossoming In Your Smile.
Meditation for beginners: here are all the tips on how to meditate properly at home
Meditation is simple to learn and practice if you follow some basic guidelines. And when you start a regular meditation practice, you step out on a beautiful journey of self-transformation.
To ease your meditation journey, we have created this meditation guide. The guide consists of 25 best practices and tips that will make your meditation journey easier and more enjoyable.
This will help you to:
- jump-start your meditation practice
- build a good introductory foundation for your meditation practice
- start enjoying your practice on your own at home
- get answers to some common questions
- avoid some common misconceptions, pitfalls, and obstacles that beginners face
- maximize the benefits of meditation
A] Before you start: preparation
Whether you want to meditate in the morning or in the evening after a busy workday, give yourself a few minutes to prepare. This ensures a deeper and more pleasant meditation experience.
1) Switch to airplane mode
This is one of the most important meditation rituals of our time—putting your phone on airplane mode. There’s no better way to ruin a meditation than by leaving your phone on and getting a call or text in the middle. So turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode 5 minutes before you get ready to meditate. Do you still have a corded phone? Unplug it!
2) Wear appropriate clothing
In general, any clothing is fine (there aren’t any rules!). But clothing that is loose and comfortable allows you to breathe freely and sit more easily. If you are meditating at your workplace, and if you are in a tight suit with a necktie, and shoes, loosen them up.
3) Prepare your body with light yoga or exercise
For so many, it is not the mental restlessness that is daunting, but the physical restlessness and fidgeting. If that sounds like you, a few minutes of light yoga or exercise can get rid of your inertia and restlessness. This movement actually helps the body to settle in and the mind to quiet down.
4) Attend to your breath
Incorporating some simple breathing exercises can make meditation a lot easier. Why you may ask? Because your breath is intimately connected to your mind and emotions. As you slow and steady the rhythm of your breath, this leads the mind into a more peaceful, meditative state.
Alternate nostril breathing is a great first breathing exercise to incorporate. It brings balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Plus it helps to quieten the mind.
5) Sitting or lying down?
Why sit? Well, meditation is a form of conscious relaxation where the mind is alert, yet relaxed. If you lie down, the mind has a tendency to fall asleep, and you lose your alertness. And if you stand or walk, the mind has a tendency to stay active and may not relax.
How to sit
- Sit straight and comfortably without feeling rigid
- Chairs, meditation cushions, and pillows can all help you find a relaxed, upright posture
- Sit still as much as possible. Since the mind and body are connected, moving the body tends to keep the mind moving as well. If you allow your body to get still, you’re one step closer to a quiet mind
- Keep your palms open and rest them on your knees. This helps in the free flow of life force energy
B] While you meditate: let go
6) To focus on breathing or not?
Some types of meditation include some degree of focus. In classical yoga, we call these types dharana. However, meditation in the truest sense is a state of pure consciousness and letting go. You can get there only by dropping all effort.
A gentle awareness of the breath can be a great aid to meditation, especially in the first phases when you are starting out. However, gradually it is good to let go of this focus and relax.
By keeping an active focus on your breath, you keep your mind engaged. When the mind is focused, it doesn’t relax fully.
That being said, the breath is fascinating. One breath-based meditation technique, SKY Breath Meditation actually uses rhythms of the breath to help you go into a state of meditation and open the door to calm and clarity. It is great for beginners. I practice it every day and I just love it. More about SKY a little later.
7) Let the breath be light and even
One powerful tip for deep meditation is allowing your breath to get lighter and smoother. Since the breath is so connected to your mind, a light and even breath can help to bring the mind to an ever quieter place. With breathing exercises like alternate nostril breathing, your breath naturally becomes smoother and lighter.
As you begin meditation, allow this process to continue. As your breath slows down, your mind will quiet down on its own.
8) Sink into the space between the breaths
In deep states of meditation, you may notice that your breathing becomes very subtle.
You can’t force this state, or your next breath will be a gasp. But as your breath quiets down, begin to notice the quiet space between your breaths. If you can gently sink into this practice, you’ll find it’s a very peaceful place to be.
9) Eyes open, closed, or almost closed?
The eyes are one of the five sense organs. If we keep them open, they may remain engaged in the outside world, which hinders the journey inward. Keeping your eyes closed in meditation allows you to bring your attention within and fully rest.
Another technique to begin meditation is to keep your eyes almost closed, open just a crack. Sometimes, if you start with your eyes closed, your mind may start racing immediately. Instead, looking at a still point on the floor can keep your mind still. Then allow your eyes to gradually close to flow from a state of activity to a state of rest.
10) Have a gentle smile
Keeping a gentle smile helps you be relaxed and peaceful, and enhances your meditation experience.
11) How to deal with the monkey mind and thoughts
Dealing with thoughts requires a basic understanding of the mind’s tendencies:
- It constantly oscillates between the past and present
- It clings to the negative more than the positive
- If you resist something in the mind, it will persist even longer
- For the mind to fully relax, we need to let go of effort
a) Don’t cling on
You might get interested in or excited by some good or creative ideas that come up in meditation. Before you know it, you’re planning the rest of your day! Or thinking up some snarky comment you should have said in an argument.
It’s natural for this to happen, so don’t beat yourself up. But as soon as you notice, you want to catch yourself and redirect.
Instead of clinging to your “important” thoughts, just tell them, “I’ll come back to you in a few minutes.” If the thought is important, you’ll remember it later.
b) Don’t push them away
On the other hand, you might have all sorts of thoughts that you don’t want to have, but they just keep coming on their own.
But it’s not as easy as saying, “Mind, stop thinking”.
See, there is a rule for the mind: What you resist persists.
Let’s try an experiment—for the next 30 seconds, whatever you do, don’t think about a purple elephant. Go ahead and try this.
What happens? Elephants, right?
If you go into meditation trying to have a clear mind, every little thought becomes a problem. You may even feel like an instant failure and start beating yourself up for being no good at this meditation thing.
So it’s best not to try to clear your mind. By making an effort to clear your mind, you’re fighting against your own mind. You can enter a self-defeating cycle of thinking about not thinking.
Instead of fighting with your thoughts, just let your thoughts come and go like clouds passing in the sky.
Here’s a classic illustration from Zen:
If you throw a stone in a pond and stir up the water, what do you do to quieten the water again?
Nothing. You just let it be.
And after a little while, the ripples will fade and the water’s surface will be still again. Anything you try to do to the pond to calm the water would just stir it up more.
By letting your thoughts be, you come into harmony with your thoughts. You will notice them, but they won’t bother you. You won’t be afraid of them, because you know that they come and leave you on their own. You won’t identify with them or let them control you. You will start to see that you are not your thoughts. Rather, you are the consciousness in which thoughts arise and fade on their own.
C] Creating a meditation routine
It takes a bit of self-discipline to create a habit and make it stick. So creating and honoring a routine will help build your meditation practice. Meditate at the same time and in the same place as much as possible. But also don’t get stuck in that. It’s good to be flexible too. Like going to the gym, the more regularly you meditate, the more benefits come.
12) When is the best time to meditate?
The best time to meditate will, of course, vary from person to person depending on your preferences, schedule, and lifestyle. Personally, I like to meditate first thing in the morning and again in the evening after work.
Special times to meditate
There are certain times of day when it is easier to meditate.
- Many meditators have found that before sunrise is an especially effective time to meditate. The world outside is quiet, the house is quiet, and so are you! If you are an early riser, you may just love this time of day to dive deep within. And you will see that this sets a great tone for the rest of your day!
- At sunrise and sunset, nature transitions from night to day and back again. These times are also ideal for meditation and reflection.
13) Choose a time that’s quiet
Meditation is your time to relax and to be present with yourself. So choose a time that fits well with your schedule. A good time is when disruptions and distractions are unlikely, or when you can most easily turn your notifications off. This way, you will be free to enjoy the time you’ve reserved for yourself.
14) Meditate at the same time every day
There is great power in habits. A daily routine eliminates many questions and doubts that otherwise can become hindrances. And they can even stop you from practicing. Instead of thinking, “Should I meditate this morning or later?” you will say, “I’m about to have breakfast, so let me finish my meditation first”. Your daily routine will start to fit around your meditation practice.
15) Duration: how long should you meditate?
This depends on your preferences, life circumstances, and the time available. You can begin with 5-10 minutes and then gradually build up to 20 minutes or even longer (not required). As a general guideline, 20 minutes is an ideal length of time to meditate.
16) Meditate on a relatively empty stomach
To have the best experience, it is helpful to have a light stomach. Meditation works best before meals or at least two hours after having eaten. When the stomach is full, you may become drowsy or even get distracted by indigestion. Meditation slows down metabolism. That is another reason why it’s more effective to meditate on a light stomach.
On the other hand, it’s hard to meditate when you feel very hungry. You may find that the only thing on your mind is the prospect of food! Needless to say, this does not enhance meditation either. If you are super hungry, a small piece of fruit can tide you over and still let you meditate comfortably. Learn the art of mindful eating to keep your body and mind happy.
17) Does your environment affect the quality of your meditation?
Where you sit can have a big impact on your experience, especially if you are a beginner.
Choose a quiet place. The place you choose for your meditation practice is as important as your choice of a suitable time. Consider selecting a location that is quiet and peaceful, somewhere you feel comfortable. The stillness around you can help you find stillness within.
Make a special place. If you try to meditate in your office chair, or in front of the TV, you might find yourself working or watching Netflix.
Making a place in your home just for meditation helps in many ways:
- Your mind and body will associate that space with meditation
- Serves as a visual reminder to meditate
- It’s easy to slide right into meditation
18) Are there any special tools or equipment you need for meditation?
The simple answer is no, nothing at all is required. That being said, here are some aids that some people enjoy.
Chair or cushion(s)
As we discussed above, sitting upright and comfortably is key. If it’s easier for you, don’t hesitate to sit in a chair or use a meditation cushion to meditate. It’s one of the easiest ways to sit straight, still, and be comfortable.
Blanket or shawl
The body temperature often drops when it gets into deep rest. So beginning with a blanket or shawl can be a good idea.
Also, if you’re going to meditate outside, a light blanket or shawl can protect you from the wind or bugs. Either of which can pull the mind into activity.
Haven’t learned a meditation technique yet? Don’t have a meditation studio nearby? Doing a guided meditation with a meditation app can help you get started quickly. An app also helps you meditate easily from the comfort of your own space. All you need to do is close your eyes, relax, and follow the instructions. Guided meditation gives your mind enough to do that it doesn’t roam around on its own and instead finds that place of inner quiet. One of my favorites, the Art of Living Journey App, has a wonderful collection of guided meditations to explore and offers a free trial. You can explore and choose the best one for you.
Meditation timer (use it only when absolutely necessary)
Has it been 10 minutes yet?! A timer can help you sit through meditation so you don’t have to peak at a clock. But as you meditate on a regular basis, you won’t need a timer at all.
A loud meditation timer can also jar your nervous system, so it’s recommended to use softer ones. For instance, if you have an important meeting right after your meditation, it may be a good idea.
If you are new to meditation and using guided meditation, music is fine. But once you are a pro and have established yourself in your meditation practice, you may not need any music. Here is what our experts share about the pros and cons of using music while meditating.
D] Ending the meditation: no rush
19) End your meditation gently and without any rush.
As you come to the end of the meditation, try not to be in a hurry to open your eyes or to move around. Simply remain present in the stillness that you have cultivated. Take a few moments to soak in this and feel grateful. Then when you are ready, gradually become aware of your body and your surroundings. Finally allow your eyes to slowly open.
20) Take it day by day.
As you open your eyes, it’s best not to judge your meditation. Meditation is a lifelong journey. Take it session by session, day by day. And don’t expect instant zen. Meditation is a skill that grows with patience and practice. You will experience some benefits with each session. And you may start noticing even bigger changes gradually over a period of time. There is no “good” or “bad” meditation. There is no “success” or “failure”. Rather than analyzing your experiences, stay more connected with yourself and the benefits that follow.
E] How to learn meditation
21) A problem with too many options! How to choose a meditation technique that works for you?
This is the most important question. If you are completely new to meditation, you may still be figuring out what meditation technique you should use. And if it will work for you. There are many meditation types and techniques that are available. My advice is to choose a technique that is time-tested and supported by research. And to learn from a person whom you can ask questions.
Like most people, I started my meditation journey with guided meditation. When I started, there were no meditation apps like there are today. So I did my first guided meditation with a trained instructor and continued to do so for a while. After that, I learned a meditation technique that I could practice on my own—SKY Breath Meditation—from a trained meditation teacher from the Art of Living about a decade ago. Since then I have been practicing this without missing a day and the results have been more than I expected! It turns out that millions of people across the world practice SKY regularly, and there is a growing body of 100+ scientific studies that have validated its effectiveness. Here is a recent study that was done by Yale University.
22) Stick to your technique
Once you decide on a meditation technique that you think has started working for you, stick to it. It is best not to juggle between or mix different meditation techniques. If the technique has worked for you, you will start noticing some subtle but definite differences. And so may the people around you!
23) Learn from a qualified teacher
With so many meditation techniques to choose from, it is easy for anyone to get lost. Like trying to learn how to swim, trying to learn meditation from a book, or even on YouTube is quite limiting and doesn’t give you a chance to ask questions or get confirmation or guidance, which is so helpful on the meditation journey. Learning in-person or online from a certified instructor gives you a chance to ask questions, clarify key points, and even get feedback on your practice. This has been a game-changer for me and so many others.
24) Get a personalized mantra
I have had many peaceful times with guided meditations. But it is nothing like the stillness and depth of peace I experience when I use a mantra.
What is a mantra? It is a subtle sound, a vibration that takes you inward. But it’s not just any sound, and it’s not just saying it in any old way. There is a delicate art of using a mantra to slip into silence.
25) Meditate in a group
The mind is a field that extends beyond the body. Have you ever been with someone who is so bright and happy that you can’t help but be happy too? Even if they don’t say anything, you can feel it, right?
In a similar way, when you sit for meditation with a group of people, the collective energy can help you have a deeper, calmer experience. And you may also meet some wonderful people!
Slow and steady wins the race
Meditation doesn’t promise to change everything in your life overnight. Life, with all its challenges and uncertainty, will continue as is. With regular meditation practice though, you will see a change in how you react and respond to your life. You will see a change in the way you feel, both about yourself and others. It offers a space of stillness amid all the outer chaos. The change your practice brings about is gradual, subtle, and intangible, yet profound. If you have begun your meditation practice, I encourage you to keep with it. It’s a journey that only gets more beautiful and rewarding with time.
Ready to learn a powerful breath-based meditation technique?
Join a free introductory session with a live instructor online. You will get an experience of guided breathwork and guided meditation. In this interactive session, you’ll also learn a little about SKY Breath Meditation, a game-changer for your practice.
Originally posted by Art of Living – Here.