Meditation: how to meditate for beginners

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Want to start meditating, but not sure how? Our expert guide to mindfulness meditation will help you experience inner zen in no time.

Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) and words by Sarah Romotsky RD

You’re probably aware that practising daily meditation could do wonders for both your mental and physical health. In fact, countless studies have demonstrated that regular meditation practice can help to reduce stress, boost productivity, ease anxiety and aid sleep.

But if this is the case, why aren’t more of us practising mindfulness and meditating regularly? Chances are it’s due to an already packed schedule, and the sense that you just don’t have time to meditate. Of course, the less time you feel you have, the more likely you’d be to benefit from dedicating a small part of each day to mindful meditation!

Sarah Romotsky RD, registered dietitian and the director of healthcare at Headspace, explains why meditation can be such a powerful tool and offers her expert tips on how to meditate for beginners:

The benefits of daily meditation

Dedicating just a small fraction of every day to self-care can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, personal development, relationships, sleep, focus and productivity. Meditation apps are purposefully designed to help users form a habit through practice, repetition and progression. But we know it can be hard to establish and maintain a new daily habit, so it’s important to know that it doesn’t have to be daily – at least not at first!

Dedicating just a small fraction of every day to self-care can have a huge impact on your wellbeing.

In published research, meditation apps were shown to have an impact on health and happiness with various frequencies of use. Studies have also found that apps can increase happiness, compassion and positivity, as well as reducing stress, decreasing irritability and reducing sadness.

How long do you need to meditate for?

Think you don’t have time to meditate? Think again! Guided meditations can take as little as three minutes each day and can be done almost anywhere. It can take several minutes to settle and be comfortable just sitting with the mind, so beginners may want to start with three 10-minute meditations a week.

When is the best time of day to meditate?

The morning is a great time to meditate, as it helps encourage the habit of mindfulness, release feelings of fogginess, set the day up on a positive note, and help your body and mind feel crisper and clearer for the day ahead. It’s also a great way to prepare yourself to cope with stressful situations that may arise throughout the course of the day.

It can be tricky to fit a morning meditation into a busy lifestyle, which may include getting the kids ready for school or rushing into the shower after your alarm goes off. This is why the best thing to do is to incorporate meditation into your life when it’s best for you.

Where is the best place to meditate?

Choosing where to meditate is completely down to the individual. You can, in fact, mediate in so many places – some of them pretty ‘out there!’

If you’re used to meditating, you may wish to meditate while on the move, such as when walking, training or travelling – this is a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.

By being present in the moment, you step away from the thinking mind and experience mindfulness with the body.

Walking is a fantastic example of this, as while moving, your attention is focused on the act of doing, and the sensations your body is experiencing out and about. By being present in the moment, you step away from the thinking mind and experience mindfulness with the body.

However, for beginners, we recommend finding somewhere quiet with few distractions and sitting comfortably in a chair or on the floor, with your hands resting on your lap or knees.

How to meditate: tips for beginners

Meditation is simply focused attention. Often, sessions are gentle breathing exercises, which introduce you to the foundation and fundamental techniques of mindfulness and meditation.

Try this simple breathing exercise, to help you become more mindful:

✔️ Find a quiet spot: close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath.

✔️ Don’t alter or rush it: allow it to continue at its own rhythm, and simply observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body.

✔️ Focus on the quality of each breath: ask without judgement – is it long or short? Deep or shallow? Fast or slow?

✔️ Begin silently counting each breath: ‘one’ as you inhale, ‘two’ as you exhale, ‘three’ on the next inhalation and so on, up to ten. Then start again from the beginning, at ‘one’.

✔️ If your mind wanders, don’t worry: It’s completely normal. Notice new thoughts, but then let them go, bringing your attention back to your breath.

✔️ You did it: once you have completed 10 minutes, congratulate yourself, recognising how the process made you feel.

Meditation apps

Having an app to assist with meditation gives simple access to guided meditation sessions that can fit around your schedule. A great example of this is Headspace’s commuting sessions, which allow users to prepare for the day ahead or unwind from a busy day while travelling to and from work on the train or bus.

The Headspace app also provides access to the expert guidance of co-founder, Andy Puddicombe. Andy was a Buddhist monk for 10 years, and his deep knowledge of the time-honoured tradition and practice of meditation, coupled with his expertise at translating those learnings to modern day applications, makes him well placed to learn from.

Too busy to meditate?

Most of us will have three minutes a day where we’re scrolling on social media, sitting in traffic, or travelling on a train. Instead of worrying about where to fit meditation into your busy routine, try to think of moments where you could utilise this ‘empty’ time and meditate instead. If you treat meditation as an essential part of your day, like brushing your teeth, it will become embedded into your daily routine. This is the best way to keep at it.

If you treat meditation as an essential part of your day, it will become embedded into your daily routine.

Or why not add meditation practice into your bedtime routine? If you struggle to find the time to meditate in the day, listening to a sleep specific meditation app while relaxing in bed or just before you drift off will help set the right conditions for a restful night’s sleep.

Net Doctor

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