Meditation can seem like a mysterious practice when starting out. We have many expectations for what it should be, but experience uncertainty on how to experience those expectations. The good news is that meditation is a practice and a journey; it takes time and experimentation to find your way with it. There are no rules for how it should look or what you should get out of it. The beauty of being a beginner is that you have unlimited creativity in designing your practice. If you are ready to get started, here are several meditation techniques for beginners that can be especially helpful.
Meditation Techniques for Beginners
Meditation is a technique that allows us to turn inward in a hectic and overstimulating world. It allows us to rest the mind and attain a state of consciousness that is different than our normal waking state. During meditation, the mind becomes clear and relaxed by shifting focus from the external world to what is occurring within. Finding this state can seem like a challenge when beginning a practice, but experimenting with several techniques well-suited for beginners can help you find the best path for you. Like with any new practice, it is important to allow yourself grace and flexibility as you find your way.
These meditation techniques for beginners should help you find new and creative ways to think about meditation and overcome common barriers as you start your practice:
A common hurdle to starting meditation is wondering what exactly you are supposed to do during the time. This is where guided meditation apps can be useful. Instead of trying to figure out how to lead yourself through a session, an app will lead you so you can become familiar with the process. Some popular choices include:
These apps provide many options for targeted meditation sessions based on your needs, such as better sleep or improved focus.
Mindfulness meditation is a highly popular form of meditation, and a great choice for beginners. Mindfulness involves being present with your thoughts without judgment. Clearing our minds completely can be a challenge in itself, and we often judge our inability to achieve it. Mindfulness gives us space to allow our thoughts to be present, and view them with objectivity and compassion.
A basic approach to mindfulness meditation includes:
- Sitting comfortably
- Bringing awareness to the breath and bodily sensations
- Observing your thoughts as the mind wanders, and then bringing attention back to the breath and body. It helps to think of your thoughts as the news ticker that scrolls at the bottom of the screen during a newscast. Allow yourself to look at it, but also let it to go by as you refocus on the breath.
This open acceptance of thoughts and attention on the present moment is great for beginners; it may be easier than trying to harness and change your state of consciousness in other forms of meditation.
The thought of sitting silently during meditation can be intimidating all on its own because we are used to moving fast in today’s world. If this is has been a roadblock in getting started, walking meditation can be a useful solution.
Just like it sounds, this form of mindfulness meditation involves walking while relaxing and calming the mind. It can be done anywhere, and can be as simple as focusing on your breath with each stride you take.
You could also expand the technique to bring awareness to your senses as you walk. In this mindful walking practice from mindful.org, you can also focus your mind on:
- Sounds: Observe the sounds you hear, and pay attention to them without labeling or naming them.
- Smell: Notice the smells you encounter without attaching feelings to them.
- Sights: Bring awareness to the colors and objects you see around you.
Music is a tool that can provide focus during your meditation. In the same way repeating a mantra can help focus the mind, listening to a song of your choosing can provide a mantra in the form of beats and lyrics — especially when played on repeat.
Listening to music has many benefits including reduced stress and altering your mood. If your intention for your meditation session is to create a shift in your stress levels or mood, music can be a positive addition. Since many of us are accustomed to listening to music in daily life, it can provide an easy transition into meditation before you add silent meditations to your practice. Additionally, different genres, rhythms, and tempos, may guide your meditation differently; try experimenting with various music choices and notice how you respond to them!
While being a beginner to anything can be challenging, there is a key advantage to embrace. As Zen monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki states, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Approaching your meditation practice with a spirit of exploration will help you embrace every part of the journey. For more meditation techniques for beginners, check out Aubrey Marie’s meditation series, From Fear to Love Meditations.