Medication is a smart way to improve your emotional and physical health. So how do you start? It may seem difficult, but you don’t need to be a mystic to enjoy a little mindfulness.
Follow an Application or Series
The easiest way for beginners to get into meditation is to follow a guided series. Not only do they explain the how-to’s, most sessions differ in style from day-to-day to keep it from getting stale. There are many different places you can try.
If you have a smartphone and know how to use it, an app may be the easiest way to meditate. All it takes is finding the right app and a set of headphones, and you can find mindfulness anywhere.
Among the top mindfulness applications is Headspace, available on iPhones and Android phones. The advantage of these guide classes is they are bite-sized and curated by experts. There are a lot of applications to choose from, so try the one that fits your needs best.
If you don’t have a smartphone, fear not! The internet is packed with meditation resources. UCLA Health is a great resource, offering online mindfulness classes and free guided sessions. Mindful, a website devoted to mindful meditation, offers a resources list of over 400 entries. If that doesn’t suit you, MindBodyGreen offers a complete online resource guide.
If you’re using a computer to help you meditate, look no further than YouTube. Much like fitness and cooking channels, mindfulness experts have made YouTube a platform to share their knowledge. Among these channels is TheHonestGuys, who have over 300 meditation aids like guided sessions or relaxing music to assist you. Michael Sealey is also worth giving a try.
The Basic Meditation Techniques
If you would rather guide yourself into mindfulness, there are a few tips that will help. Keep in mind that meditating without guidance is not suggested for beginners, since there are several common pitfalls that many fall into when they are first starting. Once you are ready to try it for yourself, here’s how you can get the most out of your meditation:
1. Start small — You only need to meditate 25 minutes to begin feeling the full effects. When you’re first starting off, try an even shorter period. As little as 3 to 5 minutes is enough to feel some of the benefits while practicing proper methods. This also makes it easier to fit into your schedule while you’re learning how to meditate.
2. Focus on your breathing and how you feel — Counting your breaths is probably the easiest way to focus. Focusing on breathing forces you to concentrate on how you feel. This is the first step to a “body scan.” To do this, focus on a single part of your body while counting your breaths. This will slowly expand your consciousness away from your body. Chanting a mantra is also popular focusing method, but it’s not required.
3. Be comfortable — This is important, because discomfort will pull you out of your state of mindfulness. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position (legs-crossed, arms at your side). Most people simply sit in a straight-backed chair. It’s not suggested that you lay down, since the relaxation may put you to sleep!
4. Focus on your breaths, not your thoughts — Finally, it’s OK if your mind wanders. One popular misconception of meditating is that your mind must be quiet. A more accurate description would be a calm mind. Allow thoughts to move in and out of your mind as they come and go. Acknowledge them, but don’t allow them to control your attention. Being aware, but in control, of what’s going through your mind is a key goal of meditation. Once your mind stops wandering, continue counting your breaths, starting over at 1.
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Meditating has many benefits, but it can seem like there’s a steep learning curve. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you’re using a phone app or the internet or finding your own way, mindfulness is achievable for practitioners of all experience levels!