Meditation: Getting Started

how to get ino meditation

Meditation is a simple practice that can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity, and promote happiness. It's not about clearing your mind or stopping all thoughts but about observing your thoughts and letting them come and go.

The practice is straightforward and involves basic techniques. You can meditate anytime, anywhere, and it doesn't require much to get started. All you need to do is find a comfortable spot, focus on your breath, and observe your thoughts without judgment.

Meditation has numerous benefits for your mental and physical health. It can help you feel more relaxed, improve your sleep, reduce stress, and increase your focus and self-awareness.

So, if you're interested in getting into meditation, start small. Begin with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase the duration. Be patient with yourself and remember that there is no perfect way to meditate. The most important thing is to be consistent and committed to your practice.

Characteristics Values
Time 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes, a few minutes, or a few moments
Place Somewhere quiet, comfortable, and upright
Posture Cross-legged, in a chair, on a couch, lying down, or walking
Eyes Open or closed
Focus Breath, body scan, sounds, light, energy, or loving-kindness
Time of day Morning, lunchtime, or evening
Frequency Daily, a few times a week, or weekends only

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Find a quiet, comfortable spot

Finding a quiet, comfortable spot is an important first step in your meditation journey. This is a special place where you can relax and focus, so it's worth taking the time to create a dedicated space.

First, choose a room, corner, or alcove that is quiet, private, and comfortable. It should not be too dark or too light, and it should be free from clutter. If you're designating a specific area within a room, you can use screens or objects to separate your meditation space from the rest of the room.

Next, fill your meditation space with tools that help you relax and concentrate. Candles, incense, and aromatherapy sprays and oils can create a calm, peaceful atmosphere. You might also like to include a CD player or TV if you plan to listen to music or follow guided meditations.

Make your meditation space feel unique and sacred by placing special objects such as pictures, icons, and books on a table. Be careful not to add too many objects, as this can create clutter and distract from your purpose.

Finally, place a chair, cushion, or exercise mat in your meditation zone. Think about comfort when choosing what to sit on, but also ensure that you can maintain an erect sitting posture that doesn't strain your back.

Now that your quiet place is ready, it's time to meditate. Put on some comfortable clothes, and set the ambiance by lighting candles or playing music. Choose the meditation technique that's right for you, and you're ready to begin.

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Focus on your breath

Once you've found a comfortable place to meditate, it's time to begin. The first step is to focus on your breath. This is a very basic yet powerful mindfulness meditation practice. The idea is simple: focus your attention on your breathing—its natural rhythm and flow, and the way it feels as you inhale and exhale.

Focusing on the breath is particularly helpful because it serves as an anchor—something you can turn your attention to at any time if you start to feel stressed or carried away by negative emotions. It's a form of "entry-level" meditation that anyone can do. You'll notice an immediate sense of relaxation that could help protect your health over time.

Where to Focus

Try to follow the breath through full cycles, from the beginning of an inhalation to the end of an exhalation, and then on to the next cycle. Notice where you feel your breath most. Is it in your belly? Your nose? Your chest or throat? Your nostrils?

What to Do When Your Mind Wanders

It's inevitable that your mind will wander during meditation. When this happens, simply acknowledge the thoughts and gently bring your attention back to your breath. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don't judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back to your breath.

How Long to Focus on Your Breath

Try to focus on your breath for at least 5 minutes a day. You may find that your mind wanders, distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. That's okay. Just notice that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

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Be kind to your wandering mind

It is completely normal for your mind to wander during meditation, so don't be hard on yourself! Meditation is not about having a blank mind, but about observing and gently guiding your thoughts. When you notice your mind wandering, simply acknowledge and congratulate yourself for noticing, then gently bring your attention back.

Why our minds wander

Our minds wander because that is simply what minds do. Minds are often busy places, and it can be hard to focus, especially for beginners. It can be frustrating when our minds wander, but it's important to be patient and kind to yourself.

How to be kind to your wandering mind

  • Congratulate yourself for noticing your mind has wandered.
  • Gently bring your attention back to your breath or chosen focus.
  • Be curious about your thoughts. Observe them without judgement, then let them go.
  • Keep your meditation sessions short and build up your focus muscle over time.
  • Try active meditation, which gives you a task to focus on, leaving less room for intrusive thoughts.
  • Try guided meditations with calming voices.
  • Be consistent and make it a daily habit.

Remember, meditation is a practice, and it takes time to build up your focus muscle. Be patient and gentle with yourself, and you will reap the benefits of meditation.

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Practice for a few minutes a day

Even if you only have five minutes to spare, you can still benefit from meditation. In fact, just five minutes of meditation can bring quick stress relief. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths from your diaphragm, releasing tension from your body.

If you're new to meditation, it's worth noting that there is no one "right way" to do it. It's all about feeling more relaxed and aware of your thoughts and surroundings. So, find a comfortable place to sit, somewhere that's calm and quiet for you. You might want to try sitting on a chair, on the floor, or on your bed.

Once you're in a comfortable position, focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of the breath as it goes in and out. Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale. If your mind wanders, that's okay. Simply bring your attention back to your breath.

If you're short on time, you could try the STOP method:

  • Stop what you're doing
  • Take a breath
  • Observe without judgment
  • Proceed

You can do this anytime, anywhere—whether you're brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil.

Meditation can be a powerful tool for improving your mental wellbeing. It can help you feel calmer, improve your sleep, and reduce your stress levels. So, even if you only have a few minutes to spare, it's worth giving it a go.

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Try a guided meditation

Guided meditations are a great way to get started with meditation. They provide a focal point and gentle instructions to help you connect with your mind and body and let go of self-judgment.

Guided meditation involves a teacher guiding the student using oral instructions. It is necessary for beginners but can also be beneficial for more seasoned meditators to refresh their practice.

Guided meditations can include instructions on meditation posture, attention to the breath, body scanning techniques, guided imagery, reciting mantras, expressing aspirations aloud, chanting, and specific types of movements or activities conducted in a meditative way.

Set a Time Limit

If you are just beginning, it can be helpful to choose a short time, such as five or ten minutes. You can always increase the duration as you get more comfortable with the practice.

Find a Comfortable Place

You don't need any special equipment for meditation. Just find a quiet, comfortable, and warm place to sit. You can sit on a chair, on your bed, or on the floor (you might want to use a yoga mat or a towel if you choose the latter). The most important thing is that you are comfortable and can sit upright with good posture.

Focus on Your Breathing

Notice your breath as it goes in and out. Where do you feel your breath the most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Be Kind to Your Wandering Mind

It is natural for your mind to wander during meditation. Don't judge yourself or obsess over the content of your thoughts. Simply acknowledge the thoughts and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Close with Kindness

When you're ready to end your meditation, gently open your eyes (if they were closed) and take a moment to notice any sounds in your environment. Notice how your body feels, and observe any thoughts and emotions that are present.

Guided meditations are a great way to begin your meditation journey and develop a regular practice. They can help you build awareness, foster resilience, and lower stress.

Frequently asked questions

There is no rule about how long a meditation session should last, but 20 minutes is a good guide. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

You don't need any specialist equipment, just somewhere to sit that is comfortable and warm. You can sit in a chair, on the floor, on your bed, or on the couch.

It's normal to feel the urge to fidget during meditation. If you can, try to notice the feeling of discomfort and let it go without judgement. If you need to, you can always scratch the itch or adjust your position.

There are no hard and fast rules. Try both and see what works for you. If you keep your eyes open, try to avoid focusing on anything in particular. If you close your eyes, avoid imagining anything in particular in your mind's eye.

A wandering mind is a natural part of meditation practice. When you notice your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

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