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Being a long time meditator, the most common question I am asked is, "Do you have any basic meditation ideas for beginners?” I always answer yes! Jumping into a new habit can seem like a daunting task, especially if there's a lack of information about the practice. But meditation doesn’t have to be hard and there are many techniques that can work for everybody at every level from beginner to advanced.
There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation. It doesn’t require sitting on a fancy pillow in a specific position in a special room. It can include music, sounds or complete silence. Meditation does not have to take up a lot of your time. In fact, even a few minutes each day can have a profound effect on your life. You can meditate just about anywhere—in the bathtub, riding the bus or subway to work, in your office cubicle, on a park bench, on your floor or sofa, or in countless other locations. Finding the basic meditation techniques that work for you is key. Make sure to check out the video below to help get your meditation practice started.
Carving Out Even a Few Minutes to Meditate Per Day Can Help You:
• Reduce stress
• Lower anxiety
• Improve sleep
• Decrease blood pressure
• Increase focus & attention
• Boost creativity & happiness
Learning to Meditate is Like Learning a New Exercise
When starting out, aim to meditate for a few minutes and work up gradually. Think of meditation like exercise—you wouldn’t run a marathon with no training, would you? Of course not! Like your body’s muscles, your brain needs to build its muscle too so be patient with yourself and know your “meditation exercises” will get easier to do over time as you continue to “go to the gym” so to speak.
Before meditating, find a spot where you will feel comfortable closing your eyes for a few minutes or longer. Feel free to sit in a way that feels right for you or lie down if you prefer. Many people choose to meditate sitting up, often cross-legged with their palms facing up. If this feels comfortable for you, by all means, use this method. However, for many, myself included, sitting in, or positioning your body in certain positions may feel physically uncomfortable. Sitting on the floor or holding your hands a certain way may be difficult. Adjust yourself accordingly and perhaps let your hands rest naturally on your thighs or in your lap. Feel free to sit in a chair, on a couch, bench, bed or on the grass outside. Find what feels best for you as this will help you fall into your meditation easier.
It is Okay if Your Mind Wanders
If your mind wanders or if you find your thoughts racing, please know this is perfectly normal. This is part of strengthening your meditation muscles. If you find this happening, keep calm and breathe bringing your attention back to a relaxing state each time. You will find the more you meditate, the less this will happen. Instead of getting frustrated with yourself, just keep drawing your attention back to your basic mediation technique. Start your meditation journey off trying a set number of minutes – and yes, it is perfectly okay to start one minute at a time and build up from there! Even one minute is better than no minutes.
Be Patient With Your Body as it Learns to Meditate
Often those new to meditation will find their bodies take quite some time to relax as well. If you, for example, become hyper-aware of needing to itch your arm or move your leg because it is cramping, don’t get discouraged. Again, regroup and draw your attention back to your meditation. This is all part of getting used to “working out” your meditation muscles. Congratulate yourself for taking the time to delve into meditation versus counting actions you think you are doing wrong. By starting and trying you are doing everything right!
Here are 3 Basic Ways for Beginners to Meditate:
1. Smile Meditation
2. Sound Meditation
3. Color Meditation
Smile! This seems so simple and it is. As you sit quietly, with your eyes closed, simply smile. This most likely is not a technique you will feel comfortable doing in public and would be best done in a quiet space on your own. Now, or when you have a quiet minute, try this method. Close your eyes and smile while breathing normally. It may feel strange at first but as you get used to seemingly smiling for no reason, you will discover its many benefits.
As you smile at first with your mouth closed, note how your entire body responds to this positive action. Feel any tension in your face change. Even with your eyes closed, feel the energy in your eyes shift. Feel a sense of peacefulness wash over you. When we smile, we release neurotransmitters that make us feel good so the happiness of a smile translates into happiness within the body. Smiling can also help lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Now still with your eyes closed, smile a big grin with your lips open. The action of doing so literally releases happiness throughout your body. Note the same sensations as listed above. Feel your entire demeanor change as the positivity washes over you. This technique is a great pick-me-up if you are having a bad day and can change your energy in less than a minute.
A simple way to bring peacefulness to your brain and body is to find a sound you can concentrate on and relax into. Great examples of this would be sitting on a beach and concentrating on the sound of ocean or lake waves. This would work equally well by a river, waterfall or fountain, or listening to the sounds of an aquarium or small water fountain in your house. Sitting on a park bench allows you to hear the sounds of birds chirping or the wind in trees. Other great forms of relaxing sounds include a thunderstorm, rain falling, crystal bowls, drums, crickets and a heartbeat. There are many free and inexpensive meditation phone apps available now that provide sounds like this if you can’t find them in nature near where you live or work. You can literally bring the outdoors inside wherever you are.
Concentrate on your chosen meditation sound and be patient with yourself if your mind wanders. Be mindful it is happening, and bring your focus back to your meditation. Be aware of how the sound affects you, makes you feel throughout your body and experiment with what resonates the most with you. When starting out, you may want to make a fun goal for yourself to explore a different sound every day for a week which will allow you to find what relaxes you the most.
Embracing sound meditation can also help if you find yourself getting annoyed when you feel a sound is interrupting the time you are trying to quiet your mind. Instead of trying to ignore the sound and push it away, which may make you less relaxed, try to concentrate on the sound and make it work for your meditation. For example, instead of letting the hum of a fan or air conditioner bother you, focus on it. If you are sitting quietly and hear a lawn mower outside, embrace the sound. Personally, the more I have embraced sounds like this, the deeper I can go into a relaxing meditative state. Several times recently I have meditated in my bedroom with the bathroom fan running which has become a steady, soothing rhythm – once I stopped trying to ignore it!
There are several ways you can incorporate color into your meditation to soothe your senses. Here are two methods that you can use. For both, start with your eyes closed and breathing calmly. In the first, concentrate on your heartbeat. Envision it gently pumping, bringing life to your entire body.
Now envision a glow of white light emanating from the center of your heart, pushing beautiful glowing light outwards. With every beat of your heart, feel this glowing light growing bigger and bigger, expanding throughout your chest, and then moving throughout your body. Go slowly envisioning this expansion as the healing light seeps into every part of your body until you feel relaxed and filled with energizing, glowing light.
Feel free to change the color of the light to suit your mood or preference. If your favorite color is blue, then, by all means, use blue. Perhaps pink feels more soothing for you. Perhaps try a variety of colors on different days and feel if one relaxes you more.
The second color meditation method you can try would be to again choose a soothing color that resonates with you. Envision this color emanating from every part of you, encircling your entire body in a loving, glowing embrace as if you are sitting within a giant bubble of beautiful energy. Feel it pulsating and energizing around you, glowing bigger the more you relax. With every breath you take and the more relaxed you become, the colorful energy glows bigger and brighter.
Make Meditation Your Own
As you explore meditation, know this: There are no rules! By starting, you are doing everything right. By exploring, you are opening your mind, body, and soul to a new experience and you should pat yourself on the back. Celebrate every step forward and gradually add more time as you strengthen your meditation muscles. Remember, a few minutes is better than no minutes so congratulate yourself for starting something new.
© 2018 Liis Windischmann