Meditation is a practice that has become increasingly popular in the West. Although its origins lie in certain religious and philosophical traditions of Asia, it is a practice that is useful and beneficial to anyone in any situation. But how does one learn to meditate? Luckily, there are many meditation techniques for beginners which are great if this is your first time trying to meditate.

There are plenty of meditation techniques for beginners that you can start with. But as a beginner, you will need to understand the most simple meditation techniques that could assist you in your journey to self-awareness. Click here to download a free infographic for the different meditation techniques that you can try today.

Before we dive into the best meditation techniques for beginners, it is essential to start by taking some time to know and explain the origins and benefits of meditation.

Where did Meditation Originated?

The practice of meditation is of ancient origin, and there are different origins of the practice of meditation. However, we could differentiate them into two main groups: religious and/or spiritual meditation, and secular meditation. The difference between one system of meditation and another depends on the objectives of the meditative practice.

But despite this, the steps and processes that one follows are very similar. Which shows that when it comes to meditation, the most important thing is learning how to meditate, and the rest will depend on your particular goals as a practitioner.

1. Religious or spiritual meditation

This first school of meditative practices is based on India traditions and origins (Hinduism and Buddhism). In this case, meditation is carried out to reach a higher mental state.

In the case of Hinduism, the ultimate goal of meditation is a spiritual union of the individual soul with the Absolute. In the case of Buddhism, the purpose of meditation is focused on overcoming attachment, leading to a state of Nirvana in which all passions, desires, and suffering cease.

2. Secular meditation

The objective of secular meditation is motivated by a psychological goal rather than a spiritual one. The goal of secular meditation is to calm the mind and reach a state of inner peace free from anxiety.

This type of meditation has developed specifically in Western countries, where there is no meditative tradition associated with the spiritual dimension. And where meditation is understood as a tool that improves self-control and self-knowledge. This state manifests itself, also, with quantifiable physical elements such as a decrease in heart rate, regulation of serotonin or dopamine, etc.

Different types of meditation have slightly different benefits. But there is a common thread that we’ll explore next.

Meditation Techniques for Beginners: Meditation Benefits

Meditation is a practice that allows us to find balance in life; to improve our mental state as well as our Physical well being. In fact, not all meditation benefits are psychological; this practice also has multiple tangible physical benefits. Some of the most common benefits and life changing qualities that meditation practitioners are enjoying include:

  1. Decreased negative emotions and relieving depression.

  2. Improved concentration and decreased brain fog.

  3. A higher state of tranquillity and preventing stress.

  4. Improved self-control and decision-making.

  5. Mindfulness meditation has also been linked to weight-loss. This weight-loss is not due to the practice itself, but rather to its benefits when trying to reduce anxiety. Consequently, this leads to a reduction in unnecessary food intake.

Meditation has been the focus subject of an increasing volume of research seeking to find and prove its benefits in all facets of life.

For more about meditation benefits, please read our article about Benefits of gratitude meditation.

5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

1. Mindful Breathing

mindful breathing for beginners
Mindful breathing is the most commonly used introductory meditation technique for beginners

Advanced meditation practitioners use this meditation technique as a preliminary practice before engaging in harder techniques. But for beginners, it is an excellent technique on its own. It gets you accustomed to avoiding distractions and focusing your brain more on the task at hand. It is a simple meditation technique for everyday life that goes like this:

  • First, find a quiet place. Once you have adopted the correct posture, you should start through the slow breath. To do this, let the air flow naturally through your body. Bring your attention to your chest. Breath in and breath out naturally and freely. To meditate correctly, one needs to learn how to focus solely on their breathing without modifying it. After placing your attention on your breathing, close your eyes gradually.

  • Breath through your stomach: Center your breathing on what is known as “breathing with your stomach.” This breathing method consists of directing your breath towards the lower of the lungs, in such a way that the diaphragm exerts pressure on the stomach. Your gut should also swell and deflate with each inhalation and exhalation. This breathing allows the rib cage to remain still, aiding in the relaxation process.

  • Think of nothing: once you’ve learned to focus on only your breath it’s time to free your mind. This is probably the most complicated step since the mind is always in constant motion. Your mind is sure to wander, but you will be in a position to pull it back to your breathing. Keep in mind that “thinking of nothing” is an expression, since this is practically impossible. Ideally, you should focus solely on breathing. When you notice that you are distracted by other thoughts, keep calm and redirect attention to your breath.

  • Note the loss of touch: as your meditative state progresses, you will notice that the feel of your skin, as well as the weight of your body, will begin to fade. This should be achieved as you practice more and more. This sensation usually starts with the toes and fingers, and little by little, spreads and is felt in the upper extremities. If this does occur, bear in mind that this is normal and nothing to be afraid of. It is in fact a sign of relaxation.

  • Enjoy this peace of mind: once you’ve reached this state, this is the level of full development within a meditative practice. At this time, all you have to do is to try to remain in this state of stillness and emptiness for as long as you consider necessary.

  • Return: finally, when you feel that your meditative practice is complete, you can begin to recover back to your “normal” mental state. To do this, start by slowly moving your fingers and toes and lightly blinking. This will allow you to leave your meditative state slowly. Then, slowly, move the rest of the body. When leaving a meditative state, it is essential to do it slowly and consciously. Otherwise, you might get dizzy and/or feel overwhelmed.

    Guided meditations on mindful breathing is an excellent place to start your journey to mindfulness.

    The following is a simple guided breathing meditation for the uninitiated. Just follow the steps, reflect on how you are feeling afterwards, and you should begin to get a hold of what meditation can offer you.

2. Mindful Walking

mindful walking meditation technique for beginners

As a beginner, the term meditation is likely to evoke for you a mental image of a cross-legged person, with eyes closed, sitting quietly in a peaceful room. While this is the most practiced form of meditation, many choose a more mobile form to mindfulness. It’s called walking meditation.

Walking meditation has a twofold advantage of health (the walking component) and mindfulness (the meditation component); It’s an exercise for the mind as well as the body.

As simple as it is -putting one foot in front of the other- walking is often found difficult or tedious. We drive a couple of blocks instead of walking to “save time.”However, by understanding the interconnectedness between body and mind, the simple act of walking can be highly pleasurable and soothing.

With every step you take you are in the here and now. Leaving your worries behind, and freeing yourself from any projections into the future.

In Buddhism, apranihita (aimlessness) means that when we practice walking meditation, we just enjoy the walking, without a specific aim or goal. Enjoy every step and live fully in that moment; there is no need to be anxious; you have already arrived. Each step is the destination.

Similarly to when you sit and meditate, thoughts will naturally pop into your consciousness when walking. Gently bring back your attention to the mere act of walking. Don’t fight or try to analyze your thoughts, be present with every step. This is why walking meditation is also called mindful walking. Cultivating mindfulness is a sure benefit as you practice every day.

With walking meditation, your steps are those of the most secure person on earth. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.

3. Mindful Eating

mindful eating meditation technique for the uninitiated

Some of the most difficulties encountered by beginners when starting mindfulness meditations is to incorporate the practices into their daily lives. While it is true that forming a new habit can be challenging, it can be done by leveraging an existing daily activity as a cue/means to mindfulness.

When eating -as well as walking which we covered above- could be the best time of the day for you to meditate. This is particularly true for people who put off meditation because of a lack of time.

Before beginning to eat

  • Tune into your mind and body

Get to know yourself. Sit and pay attention to your thoughts first and the state of your mind (busy? stressed? relaxed? calm?). Then get grounded. Be present in your body. Bring your attention to your weight preesing down on the chair where you sit. Feel your feet on the floor and your breath moving inside your body. This sounds simple but takes practice. To make intuitive and mindful food choices, you need to be in your body and not feeling stuck in the stress of the mind.

  • Observe: what part of you is hungry?

Is your mind hungry? Are you thinking “I should eat this food,” or “I need to have some pie; otherwise, Aunt Jane will be offended.”

Are your eyes hungry? Does the food just look good and that’s why you want it? What about it is pleasing?

Is your nose hungry? Does the smell tempt you? Is smelling it enough?
How about your mouth? Will the food taste great? Is that why you want it?

Is you heart hungry? Are you feeling excited, anxious, sad, bored, or some other emotion? Is that why you are turning to food?

Is your stomach hungry? Are you experiencing growling in the stomach and the need to fuel up?

Are your cells hungry? Can you just sense that you need a specific nutrient in your body?

mindful eating is eating with attention as well as intention

As you eat

  • See all the possibilities

Notice and be grateful for your right to choose. Once you sit, know what part of you is hungry, you can decide what you really want in a more mindful way. Look at all the options available to you at the table. Decide to eat (or not to eat) based on your discoveries about the part of you that’s hungry. Let your self be your teacher.

  • Savor your food

Take small bites and really pay attention to the taste, texture, and the experience of eating.

Why this is a great meditation technique for some beginners?

Eating meditation can be life-changing for busy people starting out practicing mindfulness. As it doesn’t require any time apart, you simply practice along with the thing you do every day; eating. As example you could practice during your lunch break at work to refesh your energy and clear your mind before getting back to work.

4. Body Scan Meditation

mindful body scan for beginners

Body scan meditation is a simple technique for beginners and constitute a foundation for mindfulness and getting in touch with your body.

It consists of scanning your entire body, in an orderly manner, starting from head to toes, and noticing every sensation you’re feeling at that moment.

While scanning your body, you will begin to notice sensations that were inaccessible to you before that moment. And that’s because of all of the noise that was clouding your mind.

The experienced sensations are various and include feelings such as warmth, heaviness, pain, and moisture to name a few. It comes down to being aware of what’s going in your body.

It has been shown that this meditation practice can really increase the quality of your sleep if it’s done before bed. Also, this is an excellent practice in general because most of us live our lives without really coming in touch and being aware of the link between mind and body. It could be a new aspect of life that will fundamentally change yours.

5. Loving Kindness Meditation

loving kindness meditation for beginners

Loving-kindness is a meditation technique that has been passed down from Buddha over 2500 years ago. Through it, you’ll be exploring the cultivation of feelings of compassion, feelings of loving-kindness for yourself and for others.

First, allow yourself to get comfortable (You can be seated or lying down for this meditation) and relax your shoulders, your eyes, and your jaw.

Notice how your breath feels and simply place all of your awareness into your chest. Then, slowly and silently repeat this phrase in your mind: may I be happy, may I be well, may I be comfortable and at peace. Continue to repeat these words in your mind and feeling their meaning.

Now bring to your awareness a person who you love dearly. Notice who first comes to mind and keep an image of this person in your mind’s eye. And then silently repeat these words: may you be happy, may you be well, may you be comfortable and at peace

Notice how you feel in your chest as you continue repeating those words and then bring into your mind more of your loved ones offering them that same message.

Think of someone you have a conflict with and picture this person in your mind’s eye. See if you can offer this person the same loving-kindness that you’ve offered to others.

Expand this feeling another step further: Picture the entire human race, male and
female, all nations, all cultures, all races, all colors of skin, all sexual
orientations, all ages, all people. And repeat these words: all human beings may be happy, may we be well, may we be comfortable and at peace. Notice how you feel right then, and spend the next few moments feeling/noticing that.

While it may not seem like meditation in terms of calming the mind, loving-kindness meditation is about opening up the heart and is crucial to be truly at peace.

Wich Meditation Technique Is Best For Me As A Beginner?

All the beginners’ techniques discussed above will improve your well being, given that you practice daily and consistently, and keep an open mindset while exploring these meditation practices. Our advice is to try all the five techniques above to see which one is best suited to you, since it’s different for everyone. Guided meditation sessions are also very helpful for beginners.

But please make sure to give each technique sufficient time before switching to the next. And remember that meditation is not a results-focused venture. Indeed, fixating too much on the results can hinder some of the benefits of meditation. Instead, leap and enjoy the process, and know that this is guaranteed to improve your life.

8 Important Meditation Tips For Beginners

For beginners, following the tips described below will prove crucial for experiencing the full benefits that meditation practices offer in the short term as well as in the long run. It will also guide you to avoid some classic mistakes beginners make, or to avoid wrong preconceived ideas they hold about mindfulness meditation.

  • Tip 1: As a beginner, you might think that the purpose of meditation is mainly to handle stress, to tune out, and to get away from it all. While that’s partially true, the real purpose of meditation is actually to tune in, not to get away from it all. It’s to get in touch with it all, and to be at peace with your mind. Not to just de-stress, but to get to know your mind and how the stress feeling arises. You naturally have a thought that pops into your consciousness every moment, and there’s little space between every thought. Meditation is a way to get in the space between Those thoughts.

  • Tip 2: A good advice is that, before meditating, your environment needs to be appropriate. You don’t need to surround yourself with a deserted island, but we do recommend finding a quiet space with little light and the absence of external distractions.

  • Tip 3: It is essential that you do not meditate when you’re hungry or right after eating, as this could distract you. As with avoiding external distractions, you need to also focus on avoiding internal ones. We recommend setting a timer of about 10-15 minutes the first few times you practice, allowing you to get used to the time without pressure.

  • Tip 4: Wear comfortable clothes. To be able to meditate well, it is necessary to feel comfortable without any time pressures. Meditation cushions, for example, are specially designed for meditation sitting, although any regular cushion can fulfill the same function. In the case that you want to meditate lying down, it is essential that you do it on a mat or carpet.

  • Tip 5: Once you have prepared your space well, you should choose the most appropriate and comfortable position to meditate. There are different meditative postures to choose from, although the most common is to meditate sitting in the lotus position. You can also meditate lying down (Remember though you don’t wish to be this comfortable that you fall asleep!). Both positions are equally as good; it usually depends on the person. However, the lotus position can sometimes prove to be slightly tricky for beginners. Therefore, our advice is sitting on a chair, or sitting cross-legged with each foot on the opposite thigh with your palms facing up. As you practice more, you will find a position that works best for you.

  • Tip 6: Make it into a habit! Use a specific time of the day or an already built habit as a cue. Know that at a core of every habit, there is a neurological loop that consists of three elements: A cue, a routine, and a reward. Consistency and discipline are key here.

  • Tip 7: How much time you meditate in a day is not very important. What is crucial is that you meditate each/as often as you can. We recommend starting with 5 minutes sessions per day.

  • Tip 9:Guided mindfulness meditation sessions can be a tremendous help for beginners to boost the learning phase.

  • Tip 8: Enjoy the process. This helps you to be consistent with meditation practice and benefit the most from it.

When you learn how to meditate, it’s essential to start small, but practice regularly, at least one time each day. Then you’re going to be in a position to relax in the practice more quickly. It takes only a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy.

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