Meditation Tips for Beginners

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I want to preface this post with a disclaimer that I am by no means an expert meditator. At best, I am a relative newbie with some practice and light research under my belt. Sometimes as a beginner, it’s nice to hear from someone who is closer to the same level rather than the experts who’ve dedicated their lives to the practice. My goal with this post is not to delve deeply into the science behind meditation, but rather to briefly share some of the things that I’ve learned through my own semi-regular meditation practice, reading, podcasts, and conversations. Hopefully, you will find something valuable in these meditation tips to help you get started or feel more comfortable continuing your own practice.

Tips for Understanding Meditation

Meditation, at its core, is simply the practice of intentionally directing the mind to behave in a particular way. This takes many forms. Some common meditation types include mindfulness, focused, transcendental, zen, spiritual, and many many others. Meditation can be practiced alone or in a group, guided or un-guided. Some types of meditation are silent, others include rhythmic chanting. While different types of meditation intend to produce particular outcomes, the type you choose at first is not especially important. If you’re curious, you can read more about some of the types here. Otherwise, just start with the type that is most easily accessible for you.

Regular practice of meditation has been found to reduce anxiety, improve subjective well-being, lower blood pressure, increase mindfulness, boost imagination/creativity, improve sleep quality, reduce resting heart rate, protect memory, lengthen attention-span, manage pain, strengthen the immune-system, and increase stress-resiliency – among other benefits. (Source) I won’t drill down on this too much in this article. I assume that since you’re here, you already recognize the value of meditation and just need some help getting started.

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How to Get Started with Meditation

In my personal experience, guided meditation is immensely helpful in the beginning. When I was starting out, I tried some videos on Youtube and a few other no-cost options. Ultimately, I found that the paid services Calm and Headspace (I have no affiliation with either app) offered higher quality guidance in a format that made it easier to develop a regular habit. In the end, I settled on Headspace and feel that it was well worth the subscription cost when starting out. After practicing fairly regularly for about a year, I found that un-guided meditation now felt more natural and I moved away from using Headspace.

Beginner Meditation Tips

Here are some other tips (in no particular order) that will be helpful as you get started with meditation:

  1. Create a quiet, distraction-free space in your home where you can sit comfortably. I personally recommend sitting without back support rather than laying down or lounging as it makes it less likely that you’ll fall asleep.
  2. The specific position you sit in is not especially important, just make sure that you’re relatively comfortable (don’t force yourself into a position that makes your back hurt and toes get tingly just because you’ve seen people meditate in that position before).
  3. You’re not doing it wrong, I promise.
  4. Getting distracted is actually an expected and natural part of meditation. Each time you get distracted and refocus, think of this as a repetition (just like in a workout). These reps actually serve to improve your ability to maintain focus over time.
  5. Start with an amount of time that feels easily achievable (even if that’s just one or two minutes) and put it on your calendar at the same time every day. The benefits of meditation come only from regular practice and that will only happen if you make meditation a part of your daily routine.
  6. All is not lost if you miss a day here and there.
  7. Try and just enjoy the process rather than focusing on whether you’re getting benefit from it. Meditation won’t instantly turn you into an imperturbable zen monk, but over time it does produce real change.
  8. Don’t worry if it feels awkward, uncomfortable, pointless, silly, etc.
  9. You’re not doing it wrong, I promise.

My Personal experience With Starting Meditation

When I first started meditating, like a lot of people, I spent most of the time sitting there wondering if I was doing it wrong. It was awkward and I felt none of the supposed calm and relaxation that I expected. Despite this, I kept going. Over time, moments started to appear where I felt like I was getting it. It’s hard to describe exactly what that means, but there were brief moments within some sessions where I was able to step back from my thoughts and simply observe. With continued practice, these moments became more frequent.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am far from an expert meditator. There are still days where my mind is scattered and I reach the end of my meditation only to realize I was distracted the entire time. What I learned – and hope that you can learn – from my experience is that this is okay. If this happens, remember that you’re not doing it wrong and just keep practicing.

Wrapping up Tips for Meditation

There you have it, some beginner meditation tips and tricks to help you develop a regular practice. As you may have gathered, I think the most important thing to remember is that you’re not doing it wrong. This can be a hard one to truly internalize, but the whole process will be significantly more enjoyable if you can. By nature, this article is highly subjective. I’d love to learn what things have been helpful for you. Feel free to text, email, or leave a comment if you have any meditation tips that I didn’t mention!

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Health Advice Disclaimer

This article provides examples that are applicable to many, but not all people.  They are based on typical presentations seen in my personal clinical practice.  This information represents common findings in the population discussed, but can in no way take the place of professional evaluation and treatment by a licensed medical practitioner.  It is impossible to provide 100% accurate diagnosis or prognosis without a thorough physical examination and likewise the advice given for management or prevention of any injury cannot be deemed fully accurate in the absence of this examination. 

If you are currently experiencing any pain or injury, seek professional evaluation before undertaking this or any exercise program.  Ensure that you are medically cleared for exercise before undertaking any exercise program.  Significant injury risk may occur if you do not seek proper evaluation.  No guarantees of specific outcome are expressly made or implied in this article. 

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