Tips for Beginners to Practice Meditation
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
By Connie Proctor
Mindfulness is a word that we hear a lot in yoga and self-care circles. This ancient practice has proven to have significant health benefits. But what if you’ve never meditated before? It can be more than a little intimidating. But meditation isn't just a fad for those with extra time. Anyone can reap the benefits. You just need the right tools. Here are a few tips for beginners.
Make Space for Meditation
A master meditator can find their center anywhere, but when you’re starting out, it's crucial to create a dedicated quiet environment for mindfulness. Whether that means a corner in your home without clutter or a dimly-lit room devoid of distractions is up to you. Many people find that outdoor environments are conducive to meditation, so if you have a spot on the patio or in the garden that suits you, make use of it. Once you’ve achieved master-meditator status, consider creating a dedicated outdoor space as your zen garden.
Investing in your practice helps to ensure that it will last. When you have a place to go that you associate with meditation, it makes it easier to slip into that state of mind more quickly.
Marry Meditation to Your Yoga Practice
One of the easiest ways to make time for meditation is to attach it to another daily habit. Yoga is a perfect fit because it already taps into a state of mindfulness, and helps you achieve a relaxed state — priming your mind for meditation. Some people even consider yoga a form of meditation, so if you’re already doing yoga, you’re halfway there.
Use Guided Meditations
Yes, the meditation masters of centuries past were usually monks living on mountaintop or caves in seclusion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Modern meditators are people with busy lives and long to-do lists, just like you. Start by using an app like Yoga Wake Up to guide you. Some excellent, free meditation apps can help you figure out how to clear your mind. Experiment with a couple and find one that resonates with you.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Nothing will pull you out of the zen zone faster than physical discomfort. Consider a meditation pillow for sitting in a cross-legged position. Once you’ve worked your way up to meditating for more than 15 minutes at a time, a little physical comfort will go a long way. If you live in an area with loud traffic or other distracting sounds, you may want to use a white-noise machine or small fountain to drown out background noises.
Don’t set goals that are too extreme. Start slow and ease in with shorter meditation sessions–five minutes once or twice a day. The more realistic you are with your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Exceeding your goals on a regular basis is a great way to positively reinforce your new habit.
Practice Makes Perfect
Much like practicing yoga, meditation isn’t a thing you can master overnight. But, carving out time every day to practice will help increase your endurance and skill. By engaging in regular meditation, you’ll determine what time of day, environmental settings, and techniques work best for you. Once you pinpoint the conditions that are most helpful to your practice, you can make sure you set yourself up for success.
Don’t underestimate the power of meditation to improve your life. Even if you're skeptical, spending five minutes a day in silence, taking deep breaths, will benefit you. Once you begin meditating, observe how your meditation changes over time. Note how you feel while doing it and if you notice a lasting effect on your mental state. Like most wellness practices, with a little dedication and a lot of practice, meditation will pay off richly in ways you’ve only begun to imagine.
Connie Proctor, a former professional dancer, is now a physical therapist and yoga instructor who advocates for wellness for people of all abilities.