Simple Steps to Get Started in Meditation Photo: @mimikuodeemer | Instagram

Beginners Meditation: Simple Steps to Get You Started

Meditation is a simple process of getting to know yourself by becoming aware of your mind and its tendencies. Although basic guidance is helpful for beginners, meditation is a personal practice that doesn’t require a guided meditation instructor. The following tips will help you work through the foundations of a seated meditation practice with the best teacher possible – yourself.

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Creating a Meditative Space

Start your practice with intention by creating a place for meditation. This could be any small room or corner where you will feel undisturbed. Ideally, you will only use this space for meditation or related practices. 

Set up your space in a supportive way that makes you feel comfortable and excited to spend time there. You will build energy in this place by deepening your meditation through consistent practice. It will naturally begin to feel like your own personal retreat.

Find Your Seat

Soma Byron in Meditation

Photo: @soma.byron | Instagram

Stillness is the essence of meditation, and the stillness of the body facilitates the stillness of the mind. Therefore, before beginning your meditation practice, take the time to find a meditation posture that works for your body. 

Any fixed posture will become uncomfortable over time (if you disagree, watch how often you re-adjust or fidget while relaxing on a cushioned chair or sofa). Fortunately, when deciding how to sit for meditation, the goal is not comfort; it’s stability. 

Your meditation posture doesn’t need to be cross-legged, and it doesn’t need to be on the floor. Although certain traditional variations of sitting positions can be beneficial in the advanced stages of practice, no meditation posture is better than any other. The “best” meditation position for you is any posture you can commit to for your practice.

Although it’s possible to meditate while lying down, walking, standing, washing your dishes, or driving your car, this article will focus on seated meditation.

Stable Sitting Postures

Suggestions for meditation postures include:

  • Cross-legged (with many options for where to cross and where to place your feet)
  • Kneeling
  • Kneeling with the support of a meditation bench
  • Sitting in a chair

If you feel uneasy in these positions, props like cushions, bolsters, and back supports can offer support. Meditation is not about the body, so the last thing we want in meditation is pain or preventable discomfort to distract us from the practice.

Basics of a Stable Seat

Regardless of your sitting posture, you can follow these suggestions:

  • Maintain a straight spine
  • Find a place that feels grounded, centered, and balanced
  • Keep your hips elevated slightly over your knees (cushions can help facilitate this)
  • Relax your shoulders and your face
  • Rest your hands comfortably on your thighs or in your lap
  • Gently close or partially close your eyes, keeping a soft gaze and focal point if open

If you’re having trouble sitting, practice helps! Try sitting in your meditation posture for 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day while engaging in whatever you happen to be doing. This practice will train your body and remind you to be present and aware in your daily life.

Choosing a Concentration Technique

Meditation begins with concentration or single-pointed awareness, allowing you to fix your mind to one object or concept. This “object of meditation” is your anchor to the present moment. When you find that your mind is wandering during meditation, gently guide it back to your object of meditation. 

If you are new to meditation, consider exploring different techniques for focusing your awareness. However, always maintain one chosen technique for your meditation session. Then, after experimenting, choose one and stick to it. Our minds naturally crave variety and novelty, which may lead us to desire to switch between methods from practice to practice. However, as with anything in life, we need commitment to dive into the depths of the mind.

Objects of Meditation

The following list provides examples of places to focus your attention:

  • Breath (observing your breath in the abdomen or nostrils, counting breaths, labeling inhalations and exhales, etc.) 
  • Third eye (space between the eyebrows)
  • Heart center
  • Body scan
  • Mantra (out loud or mentally)
  • Awareness (self-observation, watching or questioning the mind, etc.)

These techniques will disappear in the meditation process, leaving the mind in its natural state of pure, thoughtless awareness.

Commit to the Practice

The most important step when beginning to meditate is to do it every day. If this sounds unmanageable, consider how much time you spend on other daily activities (typing text messages, commuting, scrolling through social media, shopping, etc.)

Set aside a time each day for your practice and make it something to look forward to. The best time for meditation is first thing in the morning, before talking, switching on your phone, or diving into daily mental patterns. However, any time is good for meditation, and your sessions don’t need to be extended. Even 5-10 minutes of silent, intentional sitting will benefit your life. If self-motivation is an issue, taking an introductory meditation course will help you increase frequency and maintain your practice.

Reflect on Your Meditations

We all spend time each day caring for our bodies and belongings. With a personal daily meditation practice we also care for our psychological and spiritual health with a personal daily meditation practice.

Even if a practice doesn’t feel like it is working, it is! Progress in meditation isn’t linear. It isn’t measurable at all. However, as you dedicate time towards maintaining your holistic well-being, you’ll notice that life will align to support you in your endeavor. 

Journaling after (but not during) your meditation practice can help you process the challenges and insights that you gather along your meditation journey. Throughout time, you will likely find that with regular meditation:

  • Habits and thought patterns will become clear
  • Peace and joy will surface from within at random points throughout your day
  • You’ll notice what feels important 
  • Life will seem easier

If this seems unlikely or impossible, that’s okay. Experiment with meditation and see for yourself!