Beginners Guide to Meditation
“Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.”
What is meditation?
Our mind is our most powerful tool. Thoughts start off a chain reaction, yet, in the modern world, we have become disconnected from them. And that is where meditation comes in.
Meditation is a set of tools and processes for connecting the conscious and subconscious minds while shifting the brain into a theta state with general goals of developing concentration, clarity, focus, emotional positivity, and calm. Meditation can be anything from a movement practice to simply lying down and closing one’s eyes. Everyone has different goals, needs, and is in different parts of their life.
The following is a beginners guide to meditation, and some easy and available tools for you to begin a daily practice.
There are many different types, and no one is better than the other. Whatever you do, ensure you have accountability, as with anything else forming a new habit takes time and commitment. But that commitment can be as little as a few minutes each day!
Active Meditation – an active series of movements that once set to memory, can bring you into a meditative flow state. Some examples of this are Ashtanga yoga, martial arts katas, walking a familiar path.
Silent Meditation – This is the more traditional form of meditation. Practiced for over 6000 years. You can stand, sit, kneel, lie down, whatever works best for you to let go, and practice.
Guided Meditation – This has become more and more popular. People are going to classes, using apps, or listening to youtube videos for guided meditations. There is a lot of value in this as it is a great way to start your meditation practice, and it often very enjoyable with the right guide. Sam Harris has some very popular guided meditations. There are also apps such as Oak, Calm, and Headspace.
Transcendental Meditation – A popular form of meditation in which you repeat a mantra over and over again. Though not cheap they have a good program with coaching and attention to ensure your success (tm.org). There are alternatives, such as Ziva Mind, and other programs that you can also do at home.
Mindfulness Meditation – Brought to modern attention through the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. The general idea is to become present at the moment, right now. Whether you are working, walking, or doing dishes.
Binaural Beats – using headphones, the process works by simultaneously sending a marginally different sound to each ear. This area is still relatively new from a data and scientific standpoint, but there is enough positivity about it, that it is worth being aware of and trying out. As it can be a good tool in your collection for meditating.
Wim Hoff Method – The Wim Hof Method is similar to Tummo (inner heat) Meditation and Pranayama (yogic breathing). Yet it is something else entirely. Leveraging cold exposure, hyperventilating and a few other areas, this type of active meditation can empower you to face the cold, strengthen your immune system, and face your fears. It offers a lot but is also one of the most dangerous styles out there.
Why should you meditate?
While we all know that meditation is great for finding calm, better emotional stability, and better sleep. One of its great benefits is improving and restoring willpower. It has been shown that beyond just focus, a daily practice of just 20 minutes for a few weeks results in improved willpower. And as willpower is the key to focusing first, and living a better life, this is a great and simple way to start living a better life.
Other benefits of meditation are the reduction of stress, anxiety, increase in attention, presence, creativity, and general well-being. As more and more studies go on its showing increased connectivity within the brain’s networks that are crucial to such cognitive skills as maintaining attention and disengaging from distraction. And these benefits don’t only happen while meditating but continue into your daily life.
For some people, it needs to become a daily habit. For some, a few months leads to years of benefits, and for others, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, after a year of practice, he found the benefits continued to stay with him.
Good options to start meditating?
The following are some easy to follow options that can work for you to start meditating. You need to do at least 7 days, start for a few short minutes and build up to 20 minutes. If you are getting frustrated, your standards are too high or your sessions are too long.
Sit in a comfortable chair, ground, or kneel, whatever is most comfortable for you.
1) Take a deep slow breath for 3,4, or 5 counts. Breath in and first fill your belly, your midsection, then fully fill your lungs till it lifts your shoulders.
2) Hold it for the same count.
3) Exhale slowly for the same count starting from the top push it down and out.
4) Hold it for the same count.
Pick a 2 syllable word that has meaning to what you want to achieve. Some examples are
Get into a comfortable position, you can sit, stand or lie down. Just don’t fall asleep. As you inhale say the first part, and on the exhale finish it. Be slow, methodical, and don’t react or judge as thoughts or ideas float into your head. Just come back to the mantra. Start with just 2-5 minutes, and add minutes as you are comfortable till you can do 20 minutes. You can even do it between tasks to clear your mind, and set new intentions between transitions as Brendon Burchard so effectively showcases in his book High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.
“Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Just take one breath, and focus on the sensation and feeling of the air and your body moving.
You can also bring mindfulness into route things like washing dishes, going for a walk, or even talking with a friend.
When you are mindful, you bring your full attention to what you are doing in the now.
Chade-Meng Tan exercises
– get a buddy like the gym
– do less than you can.
– take one breath a day.
– Just Note Gone – noticing something that just happened but that is gone now.
– Find another person somewhere and just think “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.” You can do to random people.
You can also check out some guided meditations, binaural beats, and apps here: