What is meditation and how to begin meditating for beginners
So you’ve read all the articles about the benefits of meditation and how it can help improve your overall health. You’re interested in learning more about how meditation works but have no idea where to start?
You’re not alone, meditation has become part of many people’s routines to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing. A study carried out by Yale University has shown that meditation reduces the Default Mode Network in our brain (DNS). You know when your mind wanders back to your most embarrassing moment because it has the time, that’s your DNS acting up. Meditation is able to quiet down that part of your brain and also helps meditators to snap out of it faster.
Another study by John Hopkins showed that meditation can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients. Although meditation won’t cure depression and anxiety it can help patients to become more aware of their symptoms and manage them.
What is meditation?
Meditation is not trying to clear your mind of everything and make you feel blissful. Instead it is about becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions to seeing them in a new perspective.
It is training your mind to acknowledge your emotions and thoughts but not to become your emotions and thoughts. It does it by focusing our mind on the present moment and allowing your thoughts to float by.
What if my mind starts to wander?
It’s natural that your mind might begin to wander and that you lose focus. If your mind begins to wander, do not panic or give up, just return to your breathing to refocus the mind. Returning to your breathing will focus your mind on something other than your passing thoughts. After all the purpose of meditation is not to have an empty mind but rather being able to refocus the mind after wandering.
Many beginners believe that as soon as you begin to meditate you gain new control over your thoughts and mind. But like anything, meditation takes practice and patience to master. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes.
When is the best time to meditate?
The answer to that question depends on you and your schedule. Some people find it easier to fit meditation into their morning routine and others prefer to do it just before bed.
Morning meditation allows you to clear your mind for the day ahead and begin the day with less tension from the day before. It will allow you to set yourself up for success and become more aware of your state of mind before heading out the door. It also fits in nicely if you like to journal or read in the morning.
Evening meditation allows you to relax after a busy day in the office or studying. It can help to detach from the day and focus on the present moment and allows you to enjoy your evening without having to constantly think about work or the next day.
Sleep meditation is great for those who find it hard to fall asleep straight away or suffer from insomnia. It calms the mind and helps you to process all the thoughts that are flying around your head before bedtime. There are some great sleep meditation playlists on Spotify and Youtube which can guide you to a good nights sleep.
How to start meditation:
For beginners out there, meditation can seem like a daunting experience. You’ve probably seen posts on Instagram about meditation cushions and meditation beads. This post is all about helping you get started with meditation without any additional equipment.
1. Pick a time:
Everyone’s schedules are different and different times will suit different people. We suggest that you pick a 10-15 meditation slot in your day. During this 10-15 minutes of meditation, make sure that you won’t be distrubed or distracted by the outside world. Morning meditation works well for us. It means that you can get it done before other distractions enter into your world.
2. Pick a space:
Having a meditation space is great for concentrating the mind and creating a habit. A meditation spot doesn’t have to be a big room full of cushions and natural light. It could simply be your bed or at our desk. The purpose of having a spot is that you will be reminded to meditate when you see it.
3. Start simple:
Meditation isn’t about how long you can sit in silence for rather it is about calming your mind. We suggest starting with a 2 minute breathing meditation which will allow you to get comfortable. It will also make it easier to create the habit of meditation which you can then increase in time.
4. Focus on your breathing:
Breathing is fundamental to meditation as it allows you to control your mind and bring it back to the present moment if it begins to wander away with thoughts. Focus on your breathing, counting your breaths in and out, this will focus the mind and let your thoughts wander by rather than engaging with them. If you lose your focus during meditation always come back to your breath to refocus and reconnect with the meditation
5. Be Kind to yourself:
Starting meditation isn’t going to change your mind overnight rather it will build up over time. So be kind to yourself and avoid criticizing yourself and believing that you’re not doing it right. Everyone can learn how to meditate!
Meditation is a powerful tool in creating a place of stillness and peace during our daily lives. It can give you a space to go to during times of high anxiety and pressure. Starting meditation doesn’t require that you go out and buy a lot of fancy equipment and have the perfect room. Anyone can start it when and where they want. Studies are continuing to show that different forms of meditation reduce anxiety and stress and change the way the brain functions.
So what are you waiting for? Give it a go!