Meditation 101: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How to Get Started
I’ve mentioned the benefits of meditation over the years, but have never gone in-depth about the benefits, what it’s all about, and how to go about it.
So let’s get right to it, shall we?
What meditation isn’t
First things first, let’s talk about what meditation is not about. Meditation isn’t about becoming a monk or spending hours and hours in a dark room trying to clear all thoughts from your brain. It’s also not about becoming super spiritual all of a sudden (if that’s not your jam). Sure, you can absolutely do all of the above, but it’s not a meditation requirement by any means.
Meditation also doesn’t take the colossal time requirement you may think it does. You can have an incredible successful meditation practice with just a few minutes a day or a few times a week. You can meditate on the go or at home, by yourself or in a public setting, and guided or self-guided (more on that later).
What is meditation (and why should you be doing it)?
The key to meditation is simple. Meditating is meant to promote mindfulness and awareness…along with countless other benefits.
Here are just a few:
- Create better general awareness
- Decrease anxiety and promote calm
- Deal with stress
- Improve emotional health
- Improve memory
- Increase attention span
- Learn to body scan
In general during meditation, the goal is to clear your mind…but allow thoughts and visions to come and go as they please. You can also choose to meditate over a certain thought or decision you need to make.
How to start meditating
For beginners, meditation is best practiced alone and in a quiet space. Spend just a few minutes at first and don’t feel like you need to sit through a two-hour meditation. (Remember, a little goes a long way here and we’re not looking for enlightenment at the first go-around.)
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position and try your best not to move from that position.
- Relax all of the muscles in your body.
- Clear and calm your mind the best you can.
- Breathe in and out deeply with your diaphragm, not your chest. (Breathing is crucial for mediation and is often helpful to focus on. In fact, you’ll find meditation will subconsciously help you breathe more deeply and correctly (with your diaphragm).)
Guided meditations are excellent, as they will walk you through all this, step-by-step. You may choose to work with guided meditations exclusively at first to give yourself some key practice points and something to focus on, other than your own thoughts. In fact, I highly recommend guided mediations for everyone – no matter how seasoned you are – as they can be excellent for focusing your practice. (For example, you may be looking for something specific like help with sleep or anxiety.)
Here are the two big guided meditation resources I use:
- Insight Timer app (or another meditation app – there are literally thousands)
- YouTube searches for a specific meditation (e.g. “full moon meditation,” “pregnancy meditation,” or “calming mediation”)
As you get more comfortable, play around with your meditative practice. See what works and what doesn’t work – like the position you are in, breathing techniques, strategies for calming your body, and so on. No one person’s practice looks like another and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to meditation.
Research more and play around with what works for you. For instance, you may get interested in chakra clearing, and what to learn more about how to meditate specifically toward certain chakras.
Know that the sky is the limit when it comes to your practice. Be consistent with it (a few minutes a day or a few times a week) and you’ll see the benefits in your everyday life.
Do you meditate? What does your meditative practice look like?