Learning to meditate is similar to learning any other new skill. It takes time and practice to get better at it. Much like going to the gym to train your physical muscles, meditation is an exercise for your mental muscles.
Why is meditation gaining so much popularity? It seems like everyone who is anyone has adopted a meditation practice – think Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Ray Dalio, Jeff Weiner, and many others.
It turns out that the practice of meditation enables people to better tap into their inner potential and the right mindset to achieve what they want. There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that meditation reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, improves concentration and focus, improves sleep quality, and increases the quality of life.
In addition, neuroscientists also found that the meditators had more gray matter in a part of the brain which affects self-awareness, emotion, cognition, aging. This could explain why meditation can protect against emotional disorders and aging-related cognitive declines.
If you want to experience the benefits of meditation but have been struggling to build a daily meditation practice, this post is for you. I’ve been where you are.
The benefits of meditation may not come immediately, whereas the struggle to stay quiet is real. These are 10 of the most effective but simple acks and meditation tips to help you build a sustainable and enjoyable practice.
Top 10 meditation tips for beginners to build a daily meditation practice
1. Choose a time when you are less likely to be distracted
- The last thing you want when just starting your meditation journey is to have your mind going all over the place. While this is unavoidable in many circumstances, you can find a suitable time during the day when you can absorb the full benefits of meditation.
- For many people, this would be early in the morning
- Not only can you check this off the to-do list before the day gets busier, it is also a great way to start a day positive, refreshed and in tune with your inner self.
2. Find a quiet space – especially important for beginners!
The place you use for your meditation practice is as important as the time you meditate. For beginners, it is ideal to find somewhere free of distractions and where you feel most at peace and comfortable. This will help facilitate stillness within you.
If you do not have a dedicated meditation space, you may wish to create one with these 3 tips:
- Find an unused space, at least the size of a yoga mat. This can be your balcony or room, as long as it is sufficiently quiet
- Keep whatever meditation props you would like to use. This could be a meditation mat, blanket, cushion, essential oils, mala beads or healing crystals.
- Keep the space permanent. It serves as a visual cue to meditate whenever you walk past the area, and is also easier for you to start your practice anytime.
3. Find a meditation position that best suits YOU
Forget about the cross-legged position if it doesn’t work for you. For some people with tight hips or bad knees, this is highly uncomfortable.
For people like me with scoliosis, sitting upright for long periods of time equals to suffering. I am unable to concentrate on anything but the pain in my back.
There are several other options including standing, walking, sitting on a chair or lying down (my favourite).
The ideal meditation position is one where you are comfortable, feeling connected to the ground, while not relaxed to a point where you will fall asleep anytime.
4. Start small but stay consistent
Meditation can be hard for some people, especially if you are used to juggling multiple thoughts and tasks, and are always in overdrive.
To ease into the practice of meditation, start small. 2 minutes is enough to start.
You can gradually increase the duration as you get the hang of staying still.
It’s better to take baby steps than to be deterred by a longer practice and not do it altogether.
5. Prepare your body with light exercise or yoga
Many people ask me if we should do yoga or meditation first. In the traditional practice, we always do yoga first. This is because the body first needs to be prepared in order to facilitate the mind into peace and focus.
If you are constantly fidgeting because of discomfort or muscle stiffness, you will not be able to get into a state of quietness in your mind.
Before meditating, do some light exercises, stretches or yoga to get rid of restlessness. The movement activities should also help you feel more mentally focused for your upcoming meditation practice.
When you do meditate, allow your body to naturally settle from the movement, then let your mind follow through in quietness.
6. Focus on your breath
Our breath is our life. Observe your breath and allow your mind to step away from distractions into focus.
You do not need to make an effort to change your breath, simply observe the rising and falling sensation it creates in your body. Notice where the breath occurs, whether it is your nostrils, chest, or belly.
It is completely normal to have thoughts coming up while you’re focusing on your breath. Instead of making them go away, gently guide your attention back to your breath.
Just by observing the breath, you are keeping your focus on one thing, clearing your mind and slowing down your heart rate.
Feel free to do this exercise as a preparation for your meditation, or if you are feeling especially distracted, this could very well be your full meditation altogether.
Your breath is your life, stay aware of it and experience a new level of mental peace.
Related: 8 Easy Ways to Calm Down
7. Meditate on a relatively empty stomach
To meditate effectively, you should come with an empty stomach. This is because when the stomach is full, you can become lethargic or suffer from distractions due to indigestion.
Meditation also slows down your bodily activities including your heart rate and your metabolism – hence having little or no food in your stomach will also benefit you from physical discomfort.
On the other hand, do not try to meditate when you are feeling very hungry. Your mind will likely drift to the thoughts of food than to stay quiet.
If you do need to eat, have a small piece of fruit or light natural snack. Meditate at least 2 hours after eating.
8. Explore different styles of meditation and find what suits you best
There are a lot of different meditation techniques. When I was just trying out meditation, I found it so easy to get overwhelmed with the many different options. Talk about the paradox of choice!
If you are completely new to meditation, you may not know which technique to use or how they will work for you. The best way to go about your meditation practice is to explore and try different styles.
Yes, you will not get the focus and deepening of your practice as you would if you stuck to one single technique. However, exploration allows you to find what feels best for you, before you deep dive into it.
One of the easiest ways to try out different meditation techniques is to go for guided meditations. You can find these on YouTube and many meditation apps such as Insight Timer (my favorite for trying new courses) and Headspace.
Alternatively, you may want to learn from a qualified teacher. Classes can be conducted through virtual means or face to face. This is best for beginners who want to create a solid foundation for their meditation journey.
9. Journal or remember your meditation experiences
Some meditation practices are so powerful that they invoke different emotions. I’ve cried, gotten triggered, laughed uncontrollably, felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, and more during different meditation sessions.
Learn to accept that your meditation experience will vary on different days. This is absolutely normal.
Remember these experiences or better yet, journal them so that you can look back and notice any changes, new perspectives, or ideas that have emerged during your journey.
10. Be kind to yourself
No matter where you are in your journey, there will be days when meditation feels effortless, and days when you struggle throughout the practice. If you find yourself challenged during meditation, do show yourself compassion and realize that the mind is different daily.
Celebrate the fact that you made the time to meditate, and comfort yourself that things will always change. You can try again and experience a better session in the future.
Meditation is a journey. It takes time to exercise your mental muscles. It can be hard, and you may want to give up at first.
But this is a journey for the long haul. Try these 10 tips and see if they work for you.
Remember to drop me a note if you find any of these tips helpful for your practice!
Love & Light,