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Back to Basics: Meditation

by BetterSleep
Jun 21 • 14 min read
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Meditation and mindfulness offer a variety of health benefits for the body and mind. Regular practice helps reduce stress, increase energy, minimize brain chatter, reduce blood pressure, and reduce cortisol. All you need is a little time, patience, and a comfortable place to sit.

Can I Teach Myself Meditation?

While it is possible to teach yourself meditation, it is often beneficial to learn from an experienced teacher.

Meditation is a practice that helps to quiet the mind and bring focus to the present moment. Many different techniques can be used, and it can be helpful to learn from someone who can guide you through the different options and help you find the right fit. In addition, a teacher can provide support and encouragement as you establish a regular practice.

However, if you cannot find a teacher or class in your area, you can check online for mindfulness training programs, books, and meditation apps that can help you get started. You can learn how to meditate on your own with patience and perseverance.

Simple Beginner Meditation Guide

Start by sitting comfortably on the floor or a chair. Make sure the area is free from noises and distractions. Next, you should:

  • Feel your breath. Follow the rhythm of the air going in and out of your lungs - this is mindful breathing.
  • Close your eyes and focus on the center of your forehead. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Notice when your mind wanders. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Acknowledge your thoughts without judgment. Try not to obsess over your thoughts. Let them go and continue to follow their breath.
  • When you feel ready, finish your meditation practice by opening your eyes, noticing the environment around you, and taking note of how your body feels.

Which Meditation is Good for Beginners?

Meditation can be a great way to focus the mind and find inner peace. But if you’ve never tried it before, it can also feel a bit daunting. Where do you start? There are many different types of meditation, and it can be helpful to experiment until you find something that works for you.

The body scan meditation is a good try for beginners. It helps us check how our bodies feel by mentally scanning each part.

The body scan meditation can be done lying down or sitting comfortably. Start by finding a comfortable position, then close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Once you’re feeling relaxed, focus your attention on your feet. Slowly work your way up your body, noticing any tension or discomfort as you go.

If your mind begins to wander, bring your attention back to your breath and start again. As you practice meditation, you’ll develop the ability to focus for longer periods, and you may even find that your whole body begins to feel more relaxed and at ease.

Are Guided Meditations Good for Beginners?

Guided meditation is a type of meditation led by a teacher, instructor, or therapist.

During guided meditation, the practitioner is typically given specific instructions on focusing their attention. They may also be provided with visualizations or mentally stimulating experiences designed to improve relaxation and concentration.

While guided meditation can be helpful for experienced meditators struggling to maintain focus during traditional silent meditation, it can also be an effective way for beginners to learn how to meditate effectively.

With the help of a skilled guide, beginners can quickly learn how to control their thoughts and focus their attention, making guided meditation an ideal entry point into the world of meditation.

How Long Should You Meditate?

Meditation practice should be personal to you. When starting, don’t think you have to force an amount of time that doesn’t feel right. However, a good timeframe to aim for is 10 minutes a day minimum, which can be built on as you progress.

What is the Best Meditation Position?

The first step to successful meditation practice is finding a comfortable sitting position. If you are not comfortable and constantly fidgeting, you will not be able to focus your mind.

While there is no best meditation position for everyone, there are four main postures to choose from:

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Standing
  • Walking

Many experts say that sitting is optimal because it offers a balance of relaxation and focus. Lying down may cause you to get too relaxed and fall asleep.

Could It Be that I’m a Person Who Cannot Meditate?

You’re asking, “Could it be that I’m a person who can’t meditate?” You’ve already started meditation.

Everyone has moments of distraction and mind-wandering during meditation, and it’s normal. Whenever you notice that your thoughts have wandered off, simply return your attention to your breath.

The goal of meditation is not to achieve perfection but to keep coming back to the present moment. So don’t worry if you get distracted—just keep coming back to your breath repeatedly. With practice, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to stay present during meditation.

When is the Best Time to Meditate

Many people find that meditating first thing in the morning is the best way to start the day. Not only does it help to clear the mind and set the tone for the day ahead, but it also allows you to take advantage of the natural state of calm that comes with waking up.

If you find it difficult to meditate first thing in the morning, another good time to meditate is at night before bed.

This can help you to wind down from the day and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Alternatively, some prefer to meditate during their lunch break or the evening after work.

It depends on your preference, circumstance (work, children, etc.), and what works best for you. Pick a time you know you can stick to regularly, and be patient as you develop your practice.

Should I Practice in a Group as a Beginner or Meditate by Myself?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question - it depends on what works best for you. If you’re a beginner, meditating in a group can be a great way to learn meditation basics and get support from experienced meditators.

On the other hand, practicing on your own can be a good way to develop discipline and focus. Ultimately, the most important thing is finding a way to meditate regularly, in whatever form works best for you.

Gyan Mudra (Sharpening of Knowledge)

Touch the thumb to the tip of the index fingers and keep the middle and little fingers long. Rest the wrists on the thigh or knee, with the palms facing upwards. This mudra is generally used for concentration, meditation, and perception.

Shuni Mudra (Increasing Patience)

Touch the thumb to the middle finger. The other fingers should be held straight. This mudra is generally used for patience, self-discipline, and contentment.

Prana Mudra (Increasing Life Energy)

Touch the tips of the ring finger and the little finger to the base of the thumb. The other fingers should be held straight. This mudra is generally used for vitality, good health, and prana (life energy).

Apan Mudra (Eliminating Toxins)

Touch the tips of the thumb, middle finger, and little finger together. The index and ring fingers should be held straight. This mudra is generally used for detoxification, digestion, and elimination.

Dhyana Mudra (Improves Concentration)

Rest your right hand on top of the left with palms facing upwards. Touch your thumbs together and rest your hands in front of your stomach.

Buddhi Mudra (Improves Mental Clarity)

Touch the little finger to the thumb. Lengthen your index, middle, and ring fingers and rest your hands on the top of the thighs, with the palms facing upwards.

Prayer Mudra (Balance Body and Energy)

Place both hands together in a prayer position against the center of your chest. Fingers should be pointing upwards and elbows relaxed by the sides.

While meditation is a simple practice, turning it into a habit takes time. Our brain always looks for shortcuts and avoids doing certain things, even if we know they are good for us.

Set a reminder on your phone and save a specific time each day dedicated to meditation.

For inspiration, follow the guided meditations on the BetterSleep app. You can start today for free!

How Do You Practice Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners?

Mindfulness meditation is a form of mindfulness practice that helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

There are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation, but the basic principle is always the same: focus your attention on the present moment without judgment.

This can be done by focusing on your breath, any other object, or different sensations in the moment.

Mindful meditation is observing whatever is happening without trying to change it. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment.

By practicing mindfulness over time, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to stay in the present moment.

In addition, you may find that you start to experience more peace and happiness in your life due to your mindfulness meditation practices.

Other Meditation Techniques to Try

There are many different types of meditation, each with its unique purpose and focus. While some meditations are designed to calm the mind and body, others target specific areas of health or well-being. Here are popular meditation techniques to try:

  • Focused meditation: This type focuses on a specific object, thought, or activity.
  • Open-monitoring meditation: This type of meditation involves observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  • Mindfulness meditation: This type of meditation encourages you to be aware of the present moment and accept it without judgment. During mindfulness meditation, you focus on what you’re sensing and feeling in the present moment. This meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It can also help you learn to control your thoughts and become less reactive to them.
  • Breath awareness meditation: This meditation involves focusing on your breath and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  • Body scan meditation: This meditation involves scanning your body from head to toe and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  • Loving-kindness meditation: This type of meditation involves feelings of love and self-compassion for others. It’s sometimes called “metta” meditation.
  • Sound meditation: This meditation involves focusing on a certain sound or mantra. This can help to still the mind and focus your attention.
  • Visualization meditation: This type of meditation involves creating a mental image of a specific place, person, or thing.
  • Transcendental meditation: This type of meditation involves repeating a mantra or phrase to yourself. The goal is to focus on the mantra to the point where you transcend your thoughts and enter a state of pure consciousness.
  • Guided meditation: This type involves following along with guided audio or video.
  • Yoga meditation involves incorporating specific breathing exercises and postures to help relax the body and clear the mind. This meditation can benefit both the body and the mind, providing a way to de-stress and focus inward.
  • Tai Chi meditation: Tai Chi is a martial art used for self-defense. But it is also an excellent form of meditation. Tai Chi meditation is one of the most popular forms of meditation in China.

Tai Chi meditation is a great way to relax and release stress. It is also an excellent way to improve your focus and concentration. And it can help you to connect with your innermost self. If you are new to meditation, Tai Chi meditation is a great place to start. * Walking meditation: As the name suggests, this type of meditation involves focusing on the sensation of walking while you walk.

How Do I Make Meditation a Habit

It’s estimated that about 95% of human behavior happens on autopilot. Why? Our neural networks are responsible for all our habits.

These neural networks condense millions of sensory inputs per second into manageable bits allowing us to function in this busy world.

Our brains often produce these basic signals automatically and inadvertently encourage us to relapse into old habits before we recall what we intended to do.

Mindfulness or meditation is the direct opposite of these brain default processes. If you must make mediation a habit, you must employ executive control rather than autopilot.

This enables you to allow intentional acts to take over habitual tendencies before they become part of your life. Making meditation a habit can be difficult, but it’s worth it. It can help you manage stress in your daily life and stay focused, among other benefits.

There are a few basic tips to make meditation a habit:

  • Set realistic goals: Don’t try to meditate for hours if you can’t even sit still for 5 minutes. Set an achievable goal and increase the time gradually as you get better at it. Start with short meditations, and don’t try too many mindfulness techniques for a start.
  • Put meditation reminders around you: Put reminders in places where you will see them often. This could be a post-it note on your computer, a picture of a Buddha on your nightstand, or even a meditation app on your phone.
  • Find a comfortable place: Choosing a place where you won’t be interrupted and where you feel comfortable is a good meditation. It should be quiet and peaceful.
  • Create patterns that will help: Try to meditate simultaneously every day. Or, if that’s not possible, create a pattern that will help you remember to meditate. For example, meditate after you brush your teeth in the morning or before you go to bed at night.
  • Be patient: Don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Meditation takes practice, and it takes time to see results.
  • Persist: Like anything worth doing, meditation requires persistence. Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately. Keep at it; eventually, you will see the benefits of meditation.

What Should I Focus on During Meditation?

When it comes to meditation, there are many different things that you can focus on. It depends on what you want to get out of your meditation practice. If you’re looking to relax and de-stress simply, you might want to focus on your breath or a mantra.

If you’re trying to improve your concentration, then you might want to focus on a specific object or a certain point in your body.

And if you’re seeking personal insight or self-awareness, you might want to focus on your thoughts and emotions.

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to experiment and see what works best for you. Below are some focus points in mediation if you wish to experiment. See which one works better for you:

Your breath

One of the most common focal points in meditation is the breath. Simply paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out can be incredibly calming and centering. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

A mantra

A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself during meditation. It can be something as simple as “om” or “peace.” Repeating a mantra can help to quiet the mind and keep you focused.

The present moment

Focusing on your breath and the present moment are important meditation basics. This means simply paying attention to whatever you’re experiencing in the here and now, whether it’s the sensations in your body, the sound of your breath, or the thoughts passing through your mind.

Emotions

You can also focus on your emotions during meditation. This can be a helpful way to become more aware of what you’re feeling and to help you deal with difficult emotions more constructively.

Emotion Triggers

You can also focus on specific triggers that tend to cause negative emotions. For example, if you get angry when you’re stuck in traffic, you might want to focus on that trigger during meditation and explore what thoughts and emotions come up for you.

Your thoughts

Another option is to focus on your thoughts during meditation. This can be a helpful way to become more aware of the chatter in your mind and to learn how to let go of thoughts that are causing you stress.

Your core values

You may also want to focus on your core values during meditation. This can help you to connect with what’s important to you and to make choices that align with your values.

Forgiveness

You can also use meditation to work on forgiveness for yourself and others. This can be a powerful way to release negativity and find peace.

Compassion

You can focus on compassion during meditation. This means cultivating feelings of kindness and understanding for yourself and others.

Inspiration

You can also focus on what inspires you. This can be a helpful way to connect with your passions and find motivation in your life.

Life Goals

You can also use meditation to focus on your life goals. This can help you clarify what you want and find the motivation to achieve it.

The humanity of others

You can also focus on the humanity of others. This can help you see that we all share the same struggles and are all in this together.

Your body

Another common focal point in meditation is the body. This can be a helpful way to become more aware of your physical sensations and to find a sense of calm and peace in your body.

The suffering of others

You can also focus on the suffering of others. This can help you to cultivate compassion and to find ways to help those who are suffering.

Whatever you focus on during the meditation, the important thing is to be patient and gentle with yourself. Meditation is a practice; it takes time and effort to learn how to do it effectively. But with a little practice, you’ll be on your way to a more peaceful and balanced life.

The Biggest Misconceptions about Meditation that I Must Discard?

There are usually many misconceptions about meditation. Here are a few:

  1. A busy mind makes you a bad meditator: One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that a busy mind makes you a bad meditator. The truth is that everyone has a busy mind, and meditation is a great way to help quiet the mental chatter. Many people find their minds calmer and more focused after a few minutes of meditation than before they started. 
  2. Only for certain people: Another common misconception is that meditation is only for a particular kind of person. Meditation is suitable for people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mum or a CEO, there’s a type of meditation that can help you lower stress levels and improve your overall well-being.
  3. You shouldn’t wander: Some think your mind shouldn’t wander while doing it. The truth is that it’s normal for your mind to wander during meditation. When you notice your thoughts drifting, gently return your attention to your breath or the mantra you’re repeating to stay focused. Over time, you’ll gain control over your wandering mind and find it easier to maintain your focus for longer periods.
  4. A religious practice: Many are missing the benefits of meditation because they’ve successfully relegated it to religious practice. While meditation can be used as a prayer or worship, it is not limited to any religion. Meditation is a secular practice that people of all faiths can enjoy.
  5. Just for people searching for peace and calm. While meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, it is not just for people looking to escape the world’s chaos. Meditation can also be used as a tool for concentration and focus, making it helpful for students or professionals who need to stay sharp.
  6. You don’t have enough time: Some people believe that meditation is only for people who have lots of spare time on their hands. The truth is that anyone can benefit from regular meditation practice, regardless of their schedule. Even taking just 10 minutes out of your day to meditate can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.
  7. Requires a strict schedule: One final misconception about meditation is that you must do it for an hour every day to experience the benefits. While regular practice will help you see results more quickly, even a few minutes of meditation can be beneficial. If you’re new to meditation, start with just 5 or 10 minutes daily and gradually build up. And if you find yourself too busy to meditate daily, don’t worry – even one session per week can make a positive difference.

Summing It Up

If you are looking to start meditating, there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Start with a few minutes each day and work your way up there.

Plenty of guided meditation videos and audio files are available online to help get you started. You can try the Better try the BetterSleep app for free.

And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a meditation instructor or another experienced meditator for advice.

With a little practice, you will be well on your way to enjoying the many benefits of meditation. How has meditation helped improve your life?

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