What does the word meditation conjure up for you? Maybe it’s visions of sitting cross-legged in yoga pants, or chanting at a Buddhist temple? There are many cliches out there, but the truth is anyone can meditate.
Meditation is a practical tool that can bring inner peace and balance to your life. In this article we'll look at how:
Meditation can provide many physical and mental health benefits
You don't have to invest a ton of money or time to start practicing meditation
Meditation tips for beginners
If you're considering adding meditation to your wellness regimen then inhale deeply and check out our guide to meditation for beginners.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a mind and body practice centered around self-care. The world can be a hectic place and most people are preoccupied with worries about the future, or regrets from the past. With meditation training, the mind is better able to access thoughts and feelings calmly, so they’re not overwhelming.
There’s a common misconception that you must clear the mind when meditating. In reality, it enables us to accept thoughts, emotions, and sensations in a non-judgmental way. Life's challenges still go on around you, but it can help change how you react to and view your circumstances. For some, it can transform their perspective on life completely. This can lead to reduced stress levels, improved sleep and mood, and a sharper focus.
Which style of meditation is right for you?
From focusing on the present moment and increasing patience to creativity and self-awareness there are various forms of meditation to suit all first-timers:
Mindfulness – the focus is on accepting thoughts and emotions by letting them pass without judgment. And gaining an increased awareness of the present moment.
Loving kindness – puts the attention on cultivating feelings of goodwill, kindness, and compassion for others and yourself.
Movement – shifts disruptive thoughts by concentrating on simple, everyday actions like walking, washing, or brushing your teeth.
Focused attention – effective for stress relief. The goal is to focus on sounds, objects, or sensations in your body to stay in the here and now.
Mantra – silently repeating a word, thought, or phrase you find calming to prevent distracting thoughts. The Transcendental Meditation Technique™ is a form of mantra that increases awareness and promotes calm.
Visualization – is the method of picturing positive images, ideas, symbols, or affirmations to settle the mind.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation is an all-round aid that’s beneficial on many levels. It can lift emotional well-being and overall health, and help manage symptoms of certain medical conditions. Increasing neural connections in the brain, it can boost concentration, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and build self-esteem. On the physical side, it can support immune function, lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol (fight or flight stress), ease chronic pain, and minimize insomnia.
Creating a tranquil meditation space, wherever you are
As a rookie meditator, you don’t need much to start – just a comfortable, safe, calm and inviting spot with no distractions. This will ensure you keep returning to practice.
You could try meditating inside, outside, on a chair, bed, or cushion on the floor. Whatever your preference, natural or mellow lighting is best to set the mood. Essential oil diffusers from somewhere like Dunelm release relaxing aromas, and incense sticks, or flickering candle flames create a focal point. Colors matter – blue, green, or pastel decor can help center you. Soothing background music and ambient sounds may help you focus as well as inspiring pictures, photos, or objects. And it's not just your space that should be comfortable but your clothes too.
Once you've created your reflection haven, be conscious of jumping to your next activity after each meditation. Try to keep your calm awareness with you throughout the day.
The wonderful thing about meditation is you can practice anywhere, home or away. Grabbing a 10-minute practice at work might seem strange, but a slice of serenity during a jam-packed day can bring peace and clarity.
You could set up a mini reflection space right at your desk. Ensure your work screen is minimized or a calming screensaver is on. Where possible turn off email notifications and move your phone to voicemail. Try headphones for guided meditation if the office has distractions.
If meditating at your desk feels awkward, look for other ways you can incorporate it into your daily routine. Be mindful when you're making a coffee, find a break room for a short session or outside space for peace. Walking meditations can be used to stay healthy and balanced on your way to work. Traveling by public transport is the perfect time to give a meditation app a go. Whatever space you find, there’s a choice of practice to suit your needs.
Whether you're traveling with work or on vacation, stick to a daily meditation plan wherever you are in the world. Consider taking noise-canceling headphones and inspirational objects to get you in the zone. If you're sharing space, go for a walk on your own, or use a bathroom, balcony, or garden to catch a bit of ‘’you time’’. Be prepared to move your schedule around to meditate if necessary.
Build your meditation muscle with free meditation apps
Ready to dip your toe in the tranquil waters of meditation? Using an app or guided meditation is probably the best bet if you're a beginner. There’s a vast range of free and paid app options that allow you to pick a meditation depending on your mood. Most free apps allow you to subscribe or upgrade too as you develop.
It's normal to feel restless and resistant when meditating at first, as the mind is so used to being busy, not still. Free meditation apps like Calm, Insight Timer and Plum Village provide targeted practice and expert advice. Gradually immerse yourself in the world of meditation and discover what works for you. Once you're ready for self-directed practice you can move on to a paid app like Unplug Meditation or Synctuition. Some apps include tools like mood trackers, practice notifications, meditation timers and interactive communities. And there are lots of podcasts that offer expert support to make meditation easier.
Consistency and practice are the best way to see the benefits of meditation
It's unlikely you'll become a meditation master overnight and life often gets in the way, but consistency is key. Try and practice at the same time and place each day. Regular meditation, even for a short time can yield fantastic results. Only 10 minutes, to begin with, is recommended. Start small and build more time in as you progress.
If accountability to others spurs you on, why not find a meditation buddy online, through a yoga class, or meditation community? If you decide you love meditation you could even hire a meditation instructor or go on a yoga retreat.
Keep an open mind
Now you know what meditation for beginners entails, how to find space to practice and what free meditation apps are out there, perhaps it’s time to try it out? Take it session by session and day by day, while keeping an open mind. Your patience will be rewarded.
Meditation can allow more joy into daily life and ultimately change the way you feel about yourself and others. If you’d like to harness the power of meditation check Trustpilot’s reviews to see which apps are keeping others zen and share your experiences with the community.
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