Are you interested in learning how to meditate for beginners but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place.
This is what we’ll go over:
- We’ll go over the benefits of meditating
- Different types of meditations
- What to expect from meditating that no one talks about
- Critical things to know when meditating
- How to meditate for beginners
- Videos to learn meditating
I started meditating 2 years ago because I suffered from postpartum depression, even though my Dr. told me that I didn’t “look” like someone who suffered postpartum depression. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. I guess 4 months after giving birth a depressed mom shouldn’t be able to take a shower, tie her hair, dress out of baggy jammies, draw in some eyebrows and throw on a coat of mascara?
After reading articles and doing self-led meditations through youtube, I finally joined a Mindfulness Meditation course taught by UCLA.
If you’re a modern mom you have a shit ton of stuff on your plate. If you’re a stay at home mom, you’ve got even more on your plate.
We work, chase multiple kids around the house, cook, clean, run errands, play wifey, shop for our kids, play with our kids, drive around for kid activities, participate in play dates, help with homework, do laundry… all in a day.
I’ve always believed that taking care of myself is the biggest priority in my life, because if I’m broken, I can’t take care of the most important people in my life… my family. So, I take care of myself first and foremost, so I can be there fully for my family.
So in the spirit of taking care of ourselves to be the best for our children, let’s get our meditation on.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Even if you’re not a mom or suffering from any depression you can benefit from this post, so come along![/box]
Benefits of Meditation
There are a ton of benefits to meditation but they don’t come overnight. They only come with consistent practice.
I know this sounds cliché, but when learning how to meditate for beginners it’s good to keep in mind that meditating is exercising your brain. You don’t build muscles from working out once a week. You won’t see benefits of meditation if you do it once a week, either.
- It increases your health and happiness.
- Meditation helps in increasing social connection and boosting your social life.
- Meditation helps with attention and keeps you super focused.
- It gives you awesome brain power by increasing cortical thickness, gray matter and brain volume.
- It boosts empathy, compassion, and resilience in people.
- It increases your wisdom and gives you perspective.
- Meditation helps with depression and helps you feel good.
- It decreases anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Meditation increases your awareness of your unconscious mind
- Meditation reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
Different Types of Meditation
When you’re learning how to do meditation for beginners, it might get overwhelming. There are a ton of different types of meditation and each has its own techniques and benefits. Here are the most common ones.
For myself, I do a combination of guided, mindfulness, and mantra-based meditations.
- Guided Meditation: The best place to start for how to meditate for beginners and exactly how I started. You put on an audio or video and let the presenter guide you in your meditations. Throughout the meditation, the presenter will redirect your thoughts, remind you to focus, and guide you along so you aren’t lost.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness has strong origins from Vipassana and is the most common meditation practice that people choose. It focuses on being present by concentrating on your breathing, being aware of your thoughts and letting them pass, paying attention to any sensations in the body and emotions that arise.
- Mantra-based Meditations: In mantra meditations you focus on a single word and repeat it throughout the meditation. Some people say the chosen word is important for its vibrations and others say it’s only used for concentration purposes and has no value. That’s for you to decide. Try saying OM to yourself and feel it’s vibrations around your mouth and your head. It makes me much more relaxed. Most people find it easier to focus on repeating words than on breathing itself. The most common mantra is OM.
- Qigong: Qigong is a Chinese word for “Life energy cultivation” and has its origins in Chinese Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian traditions. It’s a mind-body exercise to help with health, meditation, and martial arts training. It focuses on slow body movements, inner focus, and regulating your breath. If you can’t stay still or sitting is too tough for you, this is the best alternative as you get to move. You can find out more by looking into Tai Chi.
- Transcendental Meditation: You’ve gotta pay to practice TM and it’s not cheap. At $960 I couldn’t wait to get out of the introductory class. They don’t have a lot of information online on how to do it. From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s also a mantra based meditation practiced twice daily for 15-20 minutes at a time. The mantra, however, is unique to the individual based on age and gender.
- Vipassana Meditation: Traditional Buddhist practice of “insight” or “clear seeing”. It focuses on the mindfulness of breathing, body sensations, and your thoughts.
- Yoga Meditation: There are many types of yoga meditation and has its practice divided into 3 types of areas. Physical postures, breathing exercised, and contemplative practices of meditation.
- Zen Meditation (Zazen): Has its origin in the Chinese Zen Buddhism. There’s a lot of focus on keeping a very straight posture to help with your concentration. It’s usually practiced in Zen Buddhist Centers.
- Loving Kindness Meditation: This practice comes from Buddhist traditions and focuses on loving yourself and those around you. It’s good for people who are hard on themselves or even selfish. You can’t feel loving kindness and jealousy and hate at the same time.
What To Expect From Meditation That No One Tells You
When you’re learning how to meditate for beginners there’s another side to meditation that no one ever talks about so I’m gonna air the dirty laundry here.
When I started meditating I had this illusion that everything was going to change for me. And I mean everything like I was gonna transform into Mother Teresa or something.
As stupid as it sounds, I really thought I was going to be this totally different, enlightened person. That everything in my life was suddenly going to be perfect and all the problems were gonna go away. I really thought… that my life would completely change into a big ball of peacefulness and calm…
I think this misconception is the reason why people think meditation is some foo-foo, new age bull-shit.
Well, the change didn’t happen. And the worst part is… I’m still the same old me, with the same old thoughts, the same old habits, and the same freaking life. I’m just more aware.
So, before learning how to meditate for beginners, here are some things to keep in mind.
- You’re gonna have a gazillion thoughts during meditation: Don’t freak out, it’s not only normal, but you need it! Meditating is not about sitting still with no thoughts… that’s called being dead. We’re human and still alive and we’ll have thoughts that keep popping up. Don’t beat yourself up over this. When I began I think I had a thought come up every 10 seconds or so. Thoughts of unfinished plans, better things I could be doing instead of sitting there breathing, whether I’m even doing meditation correctly… down to if I should chop my hair off or not.
- You might fall asleep: It happens. I’ve done it. You’re in such a relaxed state and totally aware of your thoughts that it might relax you all the way to sleep. It’s all good! Let it be… that was your experience.
- You’re not going to have an overnight transformation: Just like I didn’t come out like Mother Teresa, you probably won’t either. Give yourself time to let meditation effect your life.
- The first few times you’ll finish meditation and be completely confused because it didn’t do shit: I used to beat myself up to a pulp then had to check myself into UCLA Mindfulness Center to get some help. Again, it’s not something you’ll notice in your life overnight. You might feel lighter inside, but give it more time for it to seep into your world. Honestly, it took me about 3 -4 months of practice 20 minutes, 6 days a week to really see it working in my life.
- Your life will be exactly the same as it was before you started meditating. Your world doesn’t change. Your problems won’t go away. Your crying baby will still be there. What you’ll have is more awareness and control of your thoughts. Once you realize that your entire world is just a projection of what you think in your head, controlling those thoughts through meditation will have a profound shift in the world that you experience… but your world, for better or worse, will never change.
- Some days you’ll feel like you figured out this whole meditation thing… then the next day you’ll feel like you’re just starting. During my practice, there were weeks of complete elation. I was so present, so aware, and my problem-solving skills were at peak state! Then the following week it crumbled down. Everything was shit again. My teacher told me that’s part of the journey. As you become more aware, certain truths also surface and put a slight roadblock in your journey. When that happens for you, don’t stop. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just know that it’s normal.
- But keep at it… it gets better and easier. Don’t stop. Be consistent.
Critical Things To Know When Meditating
- Be kind to yourself and your experience. Don’t put yourself down because you think you’re doing it wrong. Don’t get discouraged because you can’t stop your thoughts. Let your experience be, and just keep moving forward.
- Give yourself the gift of time for meditation to work in your life. Nothing is worse than giving up after trying it once or twice and signing it off as ineffective. Give yourself the gift of time.
- Be consistent. I plan my meditations. I wake up 5:15am to meditate for 20 minutes, give thanks for 3 minutes, and do affirmations and visualizations for 3 minutes. Nothing in life that is good, comes easy. It’s a magnificent gift to be aware. So be consistent and don’t give up.
- Allow mindfulness to be a daily part of your life. Being mindful and present is something that you should do in every part of your life, not just during meditation. When you’re speaking to your child, stop what you’re doing and give them your whole self. Look them in the eyes and be there with them. When you’re eating stop looking at your phone, watching TV, and planning your day. Be present, with your family, with your meal, and enjoy just being there.
How To Meditate For Beginners
Thanks to all the Hollywood movies people have this image of how you need to meditate. Don’t worry, I fell into the same trap.
Cross-legged, sitting on a pillow on the floor, the back of the hands on your knees with your index finger and thumb touching.
Well, you don’t have to. When you’re learning how to meditate for beginners, here’s what you do.
1. Find a place to meditate: Find a space where you can meditate in peace. It’s best if you do this when no one can disturb you but if you have pets or your kids get up early and you can hear them, just let it be. Learning to be present while life happens is also part of the process.
Sometimes my kids get up super early and they come out to the patio where I meditate. I tell them “Mommies meditating right now so please don’t bother me until I’m finished.” They watch TV or play with their toys until I’m done. That whole time I can hear the TV, the toys, the giggles, and conversations. It’s tougher to concentrate but I meditate in that space while life is happening.
2. How to sit and place your hands: Just be comfortable. You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed or do all sorts of crazy finger positions like on TV. I sit on a dining chair on my patio, both feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight, and relaxed. For my hand position, I used to just lay them comfortably on my legs. Now I put them on my legs with my palms facing up so I can feel the energy flow.
3. Focus on your breath: Start with focusing on your breath. This could be through your nose, the sensation in your chest, or the rise and fall of your belly. The reason for focusing on the breath is because it’s the most present thing you can be doing at any given moment. If you’re doing mantra-based meditations, focus on the mantra.
4. How to focus on your breath: As you breathe in and out, focus on the feeling of the air going in and out through your nose. Or you can focus on the rise and fall of your chest or belly.
5. How to control your thoughts: Your thoughts will come up all the time during meditation and it’s a very normal process. When it comes up don’t rush it or beat yourself up about it. These are the steps that I take when a thought comes up. I learned this entire technique from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the person who’s responsible for bringing mindfulness to the US:
- Notice it. First, just notice that you even have a thought Just be aware of the thought. Most of the stress we have in our lives is because we have these thoughts that overwhelm us and we don’t know how to control them.
- Acknowledge it. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t try to curse it. Just acknowledge that it exists in your head. I do this by labeling it. I call it planning, judging, reminiscing, daydreaming, visualizing… whatever you want to label it. I just say in my head “Oh… I was just planning.”
- Let it go. Once I notice it, and acknowledge it, I let it go by coming back to the breath or mantra.
6. Return to the breath: After letting go of your thoughts, gently return to the breath.
7. How long to meditate: I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning. There’s been a ton of research that shows that 20 minutes is the ideal time to get the most benefit. If you’re just starting out, try it for 5 minutes for a few days and gradually work your way up to 20. Remember, 5 minutes is better than nothing.
8. How often should I meditate: I meditate 5-6 times per week. Some weeks, I can only do twice. Some I go 7 days. Do your best. Don’t beat yourself up. If you missed your morning session, do a 10-minute lunch session. Try to make this a consistent habit in your day.
9. Be patient: Nothing great in life comes overnight. Give yourself time to let the benefits of meditation work in your life. Be kind to yourself and your journey.
Videos on How to Meditate for Beginners
The type of meditation you choose is a personal choice. Here are videos that I started with that will be an amazing place to start for how to meditate for beginners.
I would try these meditations for a week at a time to see which ones you feel comfortable with. I always vary my meditations based on the week. One week I’ll do mindfulness, the next I’ll do mantras, and then I’ll do guided.
#1 Mantra / Guided Meditations
- Brendon Burchard – Release Meditation: This is a very easy meditation to follow with a mantra of “release”
- Wayne Dyer: I Am meditation is powerful for connecting with yourself.
- Om Meditation: The vibrations of the OM are very relaxing and makes it very easy for you to focus.
#2 Mindfulness Meditations
- Jon Kabat-Zinn: He is the person responsible for spreading mindfulness throughout the US. He guides you a lot in his videos. Some complain that they get distracted when he does this. Ask yourself if he’s really distracting you or just breaking up the thoughts that were consuming you that you weren’t aware of.
- Ajahn Brahm: He’s a Buddhist Monk in Australia and not only are his talks filled with so much insight and wisdom, he’s funny as hell to listen to. He breaks things down so normal folks can easily understand meditation.
You have all the basics you need to start meditating. Pick a time of day where you won’t have distractions. Go over the “How To Meditate” section. Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase to 20 minutes.
There are many meditation groups around the country. If you would like to connect with other meditators, find a group in your area. I got a lot of support from my UCLA meditation groups. I hope you’re able to successfully start meditating and seeing the benefits in your life.