A beginner’s guide to meditation
Discover how to reclaim the moment through meditation with our handy guide
Meditation certainly has a moment in the moment when so many people share its numerous benefits – from increasing self-esteem to reducing stress by helping you gain perspective. So it’s no surprise that Google reports an average of 74,000+ searches for meditation every month as people are looking for more information to use in their own lives.
To avoid this noise, we have put together a simple meditation guide for you – with a quick five-minute meditation that you can integrate into your everyday life and reap the benefits.
So what is meditation?
In its simplest form, meditation is the conscious practice of bringing yourself into the present moment. It is a process of calming the mind and body through techniques such as breathing or visualization.
And it’s incredibly popular – in fact, an estimated 500 million people around the world meditate. Having a wide range of benefits, people are drawn to the practice for various reasons including its ability to increase clarity, focus, motivation, resilience and positivity while reducing stress, anxiety and worry.
But if the word ‘meditation’ immediately brings to mind an image of a retreat where you sit in silence for hours, don’t worry, it is not. These stereotypical images can make wellness concepts unattainable, but the reality is that meditation comes in many forms. It’s not about clearing your head of all thoughts (both intimidating and impossible), it’s more a way of perceiving your thoughts and creating space in your head. You can find peace in this room.
It is important to know that there is really no such thing as a “checklist”. A good meditation session will always give you exactly what you need at that point in time.
Where to start
One of the easiest ways to start your meditation journey is to follow a guided meditation. The beauty of this is that all you have to do is sit back, close your eyes, and listen as you are talked through the process. You could download a specialist app, go to a meditation practitioner who will personally support you, or why not try one of our free Happiful meditations on YouTube?
Preparation for mediation
Before starting a meditation session, there are some useful steps that I have outlined below to help you get the most of the experience:
Find a quiet place – you want to make sure that you are undisturbed for the duration of the mediation (and preferably shortly afterwards).
Wear comfortable clothing so you can focus on the moment, and not restrictive or uncomfortable fabrics.
Decide whether to sit (if so, make sure your back is supported) or lie down (do not lie down if you are very tired and could fall asleep).
Create the right atmosphere. Think of soft lighting, maybe close doors or light a candle. Also take the temperature into account and either open / close a window or grab a blanket if necessary.
Turn off your phone or at least mute notifications when using it as part of a guided meditation.
Determine your intention for the meeting. That way you know the purpose or result you want, e.g. For example, whether you want to relax, calm your mind, or let go of stress. You can then use this to choose a guided meditation that best suits your purpose.
While it’s good to create a quiet and private environment to meditate, don’t worry if you get distracted. This is completely normal – just try to notice when it happens, make a conscious choice to let go of the distracting thought and focus your attention on your breathing or the voice you are listening to.
A meditative moment
A particularly popular form of meditation that can be quickly and easily integrated into a regular routine is mantra meditation. This involves deciding on a sentence that summarizes the desired result. This can be especially helpful when you want to improve the way you think, e.g. B. if you want to feel more positive, energetic or motivated. Just think of three things that you would like to feel and these can become your mantra.
Ready to try? Here is a simple five-minute mantra meditation you can try right now:
Start by making yourself comfortable sitting or lying down. Adjust your body so that it feels relaxed.
Now breathe in three deep, relaxing breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice how your lungs fill with cool air and how it warms up slightly before you exhale.
Please allow your breathing to return to its own natural rhythm. It should be a steady pace, like waves crashing on the bank.
Make a conscious decision to relax your body.
Focus your attention on your face, starting with the muscles around your eyes. Really watch how this area feels and try to let go of any tension that may be holding you here – let it melt like warm water on ice.
Let this feeling continue to brush your face and scalp – try to be aware of each muscle group and consciously release this tension.
Let it go through your shoulders, down your arms, to your fingertips.
Let the relaxation melt through your body, right down to your feet. Take your time and go at your own pace.
Once you reach your toes, you should now feel completely relaxed.
In this meditative state, repeat your chosen mantra – e.g. “Right here, now I feel relaxed, calm and happy” – three times. On your final repetition, when you are fully connected with the words, add “and I will do this with myself for the rest of the day.”
Give yourself a moment to enjoy the feeling. Then return your attention to your breath, reconnect with your limbs, take another deep, rewarding breath, and as you exhale blow away any feelings of stress, tension, or negativity. Now you are well on your way to enjoying the rest of your day.
Meditation doesn’t have to be intimidating. It is a practice that you will learn over time. You don’t have to be “good” at it, you just have to guide yourself through the process to feel the benefits. The more you practice, the easier it gets.
I wish you all the best on your meditation journey, I have no doubt that it will be a very rewarding experience.
If you think you would benefit from support and guidance, you can turn to a qualified meditation practitioner. You can find this in the Happiful app or at www.counselling-directory.org.uk