Meditation 101: How to Start

woman meditating on a sunny morning at the park

Meditation is essentially the practice of mindful thinking by clearing and quieting your mind. There are plenty of different kinds of meditation, but each one shares the exact same goal of promoting feelings of inner calm and peace.

Meditation might seem daunting for someone who’s just starting out. However, once you understand its basic principles, you can meditate virtually any time, anywhere.

Why bother meditating?

Meditation offers various health benefits, which include enhanced mood, increased concentration, and focus, as well as reduced stress. In addition, research has shown that meditation can also be used as a supplementary therapy for many different chronic health issues such as mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, sleep disorders such as insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, including inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as chronic pain, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Ready to start meditating? Below are some tips to get you started.

1. Explore the different types of meditation.

Meditation comes in many different forms such as guided meditation, yoga meditation, mindfulness meditation, kindness and love meditation, and mantra meditation, among many others. The best way to learn about your options is to read up on them and try the ones that appeal to you most.

2. Find a certified meditation instructor.

meditation yoga class outside beside lake

If you are not comfortable practicing meditation on your own, find a certified instructor to practice with. Check your community’s medical center and consult the psychology or integrative medicine department for references. If you visit your local meditation center, ask for certifications. You could likewise consider going on meditation and yoga retreats for a more immersive experience.

3. Meditate on your own.

In the event that you prefer to start learning about meditation on your own or would like to practice alone before doing group classes or retreats, start by meditating right in your own home. There are various books, mobile apps, and sites that can teach you the basic principles of meditation.

To start, find a place in your home where you feel most comfortable sitting or lying down. Turn off your mobile phone and keep potential distractions away. Focus your attention on quieting your mind and breathing in and out deeply.

You could follow a guided meditation, focus on your breathing, or repeat a mantra. Some people like to listen to soothing music or sounds, burn incense, or burn scented candles. If you find your mind wandering, don’t panic.

Whether you have been meditating for one week or a year, it’s normal for your mind to wander or for something in your body to distract you. When this happens to you, acknowledge the distraction and go back to calming your mind and breathing.

When you meditate, you’re essentially injecting long-lasting and far-reaching benefits into your life. You learn to connect better, be more mindful of your actions, be more aware of your emotions, reduce your stress levels, and improve your concentration. Although meditation is not a cure-all for all your emotional and physical aches and pains, it can definitely help your overall quality of life.

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