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The Beginner Guide to Meditation

The Beginner Guide to Meditation

Meditation is an approach to training the mind, but many meditation techniques exist — and you have to learn.

It’s difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and have an “empty mind.” In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

Concentration Meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads on a mala.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you must let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves over time.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it come up.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see if your thoughts tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience. With practice, an inner balance develops.

There are plenty of other techniques, but the two above are the simplest and most common.

Benefits Of Meditation

Even if relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term health benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.

How To Meditate: Simple Meditation For Beginners

This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. We recommend using one of our Cooling Eye Masks or Restorative Eye Pillows if lying down.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.