If you’re struggling with consistent meditation, or you’re brand new to the practice, I’m going to make it very easy for you in this one article. There’s five, beginner-friendly techniques that I’m going to explain to you in detail, so that you can practice them, at home, on your own.
However, before we get to that, I’m going to share the various benefits of meditating regularly, tell you what you should do and have before you start meditating, as well as give you reasons for trying more than one meditation technique. If this is up your alley, stay focused to read why meditation should be part of your daily practice!
The Benefits of Meditating Regularly
You’ve probably heard countless times that meditation is good to calm your mind and body, but let’s get slightly scientific. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels rise, and this allows the release of chemicals called cytokines.
Cytokines create inflammation in the body, which when brief is helpful for healing, such as getting a fever before breaking a cold. However, when you are consistently stressed, you regularly experience aching muscles, higher body temperature, being more prone to sickness and disease, as well as brain fog and memory issues. Meditation can counter that.
Practicing this regularly will reduce stress, and in turn prevent issues caused by stress. Some issues caused by chronic stress are body pains, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and indigestion, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and heart disease. If you experience any of these problems, it’s worth giving meditation try.
Studies also show that meditation increases your attention span, which is incredibly important, considering social media is beginning to shorten our attention spans drastically, and in turn, decreases productivity.
One study showed that human resource workers who practiced mindfulness meditation regularly stayed focused on a task for a longer period of time, and remembered details of their tasks better than their peers who did not practice meditation. In relation, studies are also showing that the elderly suffering dementia can improve their memory with meditation practices as well.
Those are some pretty vital skills to maintain.
If you’re struggling to be kind to others, this is another reason to start practicing meditation. Metta meditation, also known as loving-kindness meditation, is known to help with social anxiety, self-esteem, reduce marriage conflict, and help with anger management.
In this practice, students focus on the message of being kind to themselves and others. With all the hate in spreading throughout the world, this is probably one of the most overlooked benefits for our own health, but also to better the world.
Do you feel you could benefit from improving in any of these areas? Let’s jump into what you’ll need for your meditation session!
Preparing for a Deep Meditation Practice
Part of what makes meditation easier is making sure your environment is close to being free of distractions. Start off by ensuring that you are wearing comfortable clothing. You want to wear loose fitted clothing that will not itch, or distract you in anyway. If you can’t change clothes where you are because, for example, you’re taking a 30 minute break from work, that’s fine, since some meditation is better than no meditation, but adjust your outfit to be as comfortable as possible.
Once you’ve checked that your outfit is appropriate, take a look at your surroundings. You want to be someplace quiet, peaceful, and simple. If you are in a room, make sure there aren’t too many trinkets, clutter, or mess. However, you may want to personalize your space with items such as incense, candles, healing crystals, flowers, leaves, feathers, calm music or essential oils, to help you go into deeper relaxation.
Another option is to create a “meditation corner” in your apartment or house, if you can’t use a full room, or another nice option is a garden or neighborhood park that isn’t often populated.
When you have chosen your meditation space, and have designed it as you like, you’ll be ready to sit up tall and decide on your method of meditation for the day.
Why You Should Try Different Techniques
As I mentioned previously, I’m giving you five different meditation techniques, and I want you to try out all of them. Why? Because even if one works well for you, another one might work better, or it may even result in a different effect. For example, one type of meditation may be very helpful for you to create an emotional release of stressful emotions and tears, where another type of meditation may help you to focus, and become more calm.
Furthermore, some ways of meditating work better for other people, but may not work for someone else. One instance being that I met someone who could not for the life of her do meditation involving imagery. She could not imagine a picture in her mind, and the practice made her very frustrated.
She found it a lot more effective to quietly and verbally count her breaths in a seated position, and try different breath techniques. Some people can completely live in the mind, where others may need more physical stimuli.
Neither is right or wrong, just different. You may know what kind of person you are, but I still recommend trying all these ways of meditating, so you can get an idea of how you respond to them. With that being said, let’s discuss the 5 methods of deep meditation for beginners!
The 5 Deep Meditation Techniques
Let’s begin with breath work.
- Breath Work
Breath work is the heart of any meditation practice, but where some practices involve other actions, some have you sit and focus completely on the breath.
You can do a counting meditation where you take a deep breath with even timing on the inhale and exhale, and count each of them for as long as you need to. If you prefer letters over numbers, you can go through the alphabet instead.
Another form of breath work is counting to 4 on the inhale, and then counting to 6 on the exhale, which will also result in relaxation and being present as you count the breath.
If you want to forgo counting entirely, try 3-part breath. Breathe deeply into the lower belly, under the belly button, until the muscles of the belly rise, and then deflate. Continue this a couples times.
Next, move the breathe to the stomach, just beneath your lungs. Again, breathe in deep until the stomach muscles rise, and then slowly deflate. Do this a couple times. After that, move the breath to your chest, right below your collarbones. Breathe in deep until the chest muscles rise and then deflate on the exhale. Do this a couples times.
Three-part breath will allow you open your muscles on your ribs in order to breathe in more oxygen on a regular basis, while also making you feel calm, and stay present in the moment.
Mindfulness is when you can be aware of the present moment, within yourself, and the environment around you, without judging the circumstances as good or bad. Mindfulness meditation is the practice to help you become attune with this mindset.
Some mindfulness meditation practices involve sitting or lying down still and doing a “body scan”. Start at the crown of your head, and slowly bring your focus to every part of your body, scanning downward until you reach your toes. Become aware of pain, tension, relaxation, blood flowing, itching, or any other type of sensation that appears to you. Try not to act upon urges to deal with these feelings until much later after the practice.
You can also be mindful by staring at an object and really focusing on the detail. Perhaps you have a beautiful healing crystal. Let’s use amethyst as an example, since it is well-known. Hold the amethyst in your palm, and gaze at its every detail. Notice any rainbows you see as you move it, the edges, the color, and all its beauty.
While doing so, be sure to sit up tall and breathe mindfully. After doing this a couple minutes, you may notice your mind was completely focused on the item and breath, so it was unable to focus on anything else. This is mindfulness.
- Mantra and Positive Affirmations
Let me first explain the difference between mantras and positive affirmations. Mantras are a word or phrase that physically impacts your central nervous system when repeated over and over in meditation, due to the vibration it creates in your mouth,which creates a calm effect in the body.
Positive affirmations can also be repeated during meditation, but the focus is more on the positive message of the phrase or word, rather than a physical sensation created when saying them. Positive affirmations can also make you feel at ease, but in a slightly different way.
Starting off with mantra meditation, you’ll want to come into a seated position. From here, you’ll want to choose a mantra to repeat. For the sake of keeping this article beginner-friendly and simple, let’s start with “Aum” (OH-oo-mm), a Hindi word translated as “It Is”, “Will Be”, or” To Become.”
Each letter is a syllable and held for a couple seconds, in addition to the silence after the “m”, which is considered another syllable. When you chant the mantra “Aum”, you go through 4 stages of meditation, slowly going deeper into each stage that is experienced with each syllable, or letter. Continue to chant “Aum” until you feel at ease, and then sit in silence and recognize how you feel throughout your body and mind.
- Listening to Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are beats listened to by both ears, and are played at different frequencies. This form of soundwave therapy is great for beginning meditators because your brain is put into the same calm state as when you are meditating through more traditional methods such as breathwork and mindfulness, and yet the work is mainly done for you.
All you need are some stereo headphones and an MP3 player and you’re ready to relax. Aside from stress relief, binaural beats also are shown to have a “Mozart Effect”, in the sense it activates both hemispheres of your brain and you’re able to think more holistically, rather than more creatively or more logically.
To experience the full benefits, the recommended time to listen to binaural beats is 15 to 30 minutes, because it takes 7 minutes alone to really feel the effects. Once you are in a meditative state, you can set your intention as you like.
Imagery meditation is when you use your imagination to focus. This type of meditation is great for creative people, and those who find focusing on the breath alone to be too challenging. In a seated position with your eyes closed, try imagining one of your ideal places to be. Maybe you are in a rainforest, at a beach, in the mountains, or even in the garden of your backyard.
Choose a place that is relaxing, and is filled with sensations such as smells, sounds, and tastes that you can imagine in your mind. Remember to take mindful breaths from time to time, especially if you ever feel discomfort. Once you have had a full experience in this place, and have recognized the different senses involved, blink your eyes open, and take notice of how you’re feeling. Most likely, you will feel at ease and you will have a stream of positive thoughts.
Incorporating Meditation Into Your Life
Students often tell me that that they feel great after my yoga and meditation classes, but really struggle to find the time outside of class to practice. My advice to them, and you, if you have this issue, is to start off small.
Listen to binaural beats on the bus ride home from work, practice mindfulness for 5 minutes before you start cooking dinner, or actively focus on your breath work when you’re driving and stuck in traffic, or dealing with stressed out drivers.
Once you experience it a little and notice how great it makes you feel, you will find time or make time to do more. If you start off trying to meditate for 30 minutes, you’ll most likely put it off and never start. Start small, do it gradually, and you will succeed.
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