I thought meditation wasn’t for me until I learned the basics. When starting to meditate, there are many questions that arise. How do you meditate? How long should you meditate? and, What type of meditation should you start with?
How you meditate depends on the type of meditation you practice, and mindfulness meditation is the most common and easiest to start with. You can meditate for at least 5 minutes, but you can get the most out of it if you spend around 13-15 minutes.
Regardless of the approach you choose, it’s worth keeping in mind that you will benefit the most from the meditation you practice, especially the one you can incorporate into your daily life.
If you don’t know why you should start meditating, you can read more about it below.
Why do we meditate?
There are many different reasons why we meditate, whether for spiritual or health-related purposes. Personally, I meditate from a self-care perspective.
Practice Self-Care With Meditation
Meditation is an excellent way to practice presence and mindfulness. It requires you to focus on the present moment and observe in a non-judgmental way. This, in turn, helps you become better at being in the present and observing yourself without judgment.
Meditation can have many positive effects, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving self-awareness, and enhancing your emotional state.
For more tips on practicing self-care, What Is Self-Care? Nurture your Body, Mind and Emotions.
In addition to these benefits, it’s also worth mentioning that meditation is beneficial for your cognitive functions. Regular meditation has been shown to improve memory and focus, among other things.
Improve Your Focus
You can compare meditation to exercise to some extent, as your focus is a muscle that can be strengthened. I know that when I started exploring meditation, I thought it wasn’t for me because I couldn’t quiet my thoughts, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Myth: I can’t quiet my mind, so meditation is not for me
If you have the same thought, it may be interesting to explore different forms of meditation before dismissing it completely. There are different ways to practice meditation and different techniques to maintain your focus.
What happens in the brain when we implement regular meditation is quite fascinating. Studies have shown that meditation has a statistically significant impact on brain activity in areas responsible for focus.
Meditation has been found to cause structural changes in the brain, such as increased gray matter density in regions associated with attention, emotional regulation, and memory. You can read more in this study.
It’s also worth mentioning that meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation in the body and is active during sleep or rest.
Myth: There is only one type of meditation
Meditation is practiced in many spiritual traditions, and within these practices, different types of meditation serve different purposes.
In Buddhism, for example, Zazen meditation is practiced, which translates to seated meditation. The purpose is to observe one’s thoughts in a non-judgmental way while focusing on maintaining mindful breathing.
Meditation is also common in Hinduism, where mantra meditation is more prevalent. This involves silently or loudly repeating a specific mantra to oneself.
While Christianity may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about meditation, it is certainly a common practice. Here, meditation is used to draw closer to God through prayer or reflecting on Bible verses.
Now that we have covered some areas of why we meditate, let’s look at how to get started.
Getting Started with Meditation
As I mentioned earlier, beginners often have many questions. The most common question about meditation is, “How long should I do it for?”
So, how long should you meditate?
It depends on yourgoals, but to start with, 5 minutes is enough. If you want to benefit from meditation, it needs to become part of your daily routine, so start with a time that works best for you.
Once you have meditated daily and feel that it has become a habit and time passes quickly, you can increase the duration by 5 minutes.
In this study, improvements were observed with 13 minutes of daily meditation.
So, between 5 and 20 minutes, you will see positive effects, but everyone is different, and only you can determine how long you should meditate. It’s worth mentioning that if you see value in it, you can certainly meditate for longer than the mentioned time.
Now that we know how long to sit while meditating, how do we get started? Is there anything we should keep in mind?
Step-by-Step Meditation Guide for Beginners
- Find a quiet place where you want to meditate (I’ve tried meditating at my desk before, and it’s not relaxing).
- Get comfortable. If possible, sit on a cushion with your hips higher than your knees, as it makes it easier to maintain good posture and be more alert during meditation.
- Set a timer, play music, or use a guided meditation.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Be patient. If your thoughts start to wander, acknowledge it and return to your meditation. Be glad that you’ve just become a little better at focusing.
When incorporating meditation into your daily life, it’s helpful to stack it onto another habit. I meditate in the morning after exercising on my yoga mat, which is always out.
The tip is to stick to the same time every day, designate a place where you meditate, and integrate it with another habit you already perform daily. By doing this, it will be much easier to incorporate it into your routine without much friction in terms of remembering.
As I mentioned, you can play a guided meditation, which I would recommend if you’ve never meditated before.
When you start meditating, it can be helpful to use guided meditation. It eliminates the need to wonder about what to do. There are plenty of apps and YouTube videos to watch and listen to.
I thought meditation wasn’t for me, but when I started exploring guided meditation, I began to appreciate it. Now I can sit for 15 minutes without any problem. Sometimes, ideas or thoughts come up, but that’s okay.
When you listen to a guided meditation, you receive assistance in maintaining focus during your meditation. Guided meditations often have soothing background music that aids relaxation.
There is also a wide variety of guided meditations available for different purposes. You can find guidance for falling asleep, taking a 5-minute break at work, or preparing for a workout—anything you can think of.
Tips! I use the free app Insight Timer, which offers many guided meditations, and as the name suggests, it also has a timer feature that is much better than using your phone’s alarm. Link to website.
5 Different Types of Meditation to Try:
Mindfulness Meditation is the most common type, but it’s not the only way. If it doesn’t seem like your thing, here are a few suggestions below.
Mindfulness Meditation is what most people think of when they hear the word meditation. The goal is to be present in the moment and observe all thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Transcendental Meditation is a silent form of mantra meditation, where you repeat a specific mantra silently in your mind.
Metta Meditation, often called Loving-Kindness Meditation. The goal is to generate feelings of love, compassion, and kindness towards yourself and others.
Guided Visualization involves listening to an instructor or audio clip that guides you through a mental imagery environment to induce a sense of calm and relaxation.
Vipassana Meditation involves observing sensations in the body, your feelings, and thoughts.
When listening to guided meditations, you may come across words or concepts that are new to you. Therefore, I have created a quick reference list for you to review, so you don’t get confused during your meditation.
7 Terms That May Arise During Meditation:
- Mantra – a sound, word, or phrase repeated during meditation.
- Zen – a state of meditative calm.
- Vipassana – an ancient meditation technique that means “seeing things as they really are.”
- Namaste – a Sanskrit word that can mean “I bow to you.” It’s a recognition of the divine in others.
- Breath Awareness – continuously being aware of your breath without controlling it.
- Aum or Om – a sacred symbol and sound in Hinduism symbolizing the interconnectedness of all beings and the divine.
- Informal Meditation – being fully present and engaged in everyday activities.
Meditation can be transformative and bring many benefits to your life. By understanding the basics and exploring different techniques, you can tailor meditation to your life, get to know yourself better, and find inner peace.
You can also bring what you’ve learned during meditation into your daily life, such as with household chores, by being more present.
Presence and inner peace are not limited to meditation sessions; they are something you can carry into all areas of your life.
My tip for you is to start small and be consistent. You always learn the most when you try and experiment, tuning in to how it feels for you.
I’m the lady behind Restful Moments. Having experienced burnout firsthand, I embarked on a journey to redefine self-care, blending scientific insights with practical advice for the modern woman. Join our supportive community as we explore mindset, mindfulness, healthy habits, and the science behind stress management.