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Meditation For Beginners: Meditate On Your Own With This Complete Guide

Meditation For Beginners: Meditate On Your Own With This Complete Guide

If you were only allowed to take up one habit, what would it be? For me, it’s meditation. Unquestionably.

Why? Meditation has helped me perform better in every aspect of life. It helps me be more focused and get more done. It makes me more calm and peaceful so I don’t suffer from emotional fluctuations as I used to. More importantly, I have greater control over my mind so I can master the art of living in the present.

Wondering whether meditation can bring so many positive changes to one’s life? Let’s see what science says!

A Harvard research in year 2011 found that meditation can help increase the density of grey matter in the hippocampus of our brains, which is associated with the ability of learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Such restructuring of our brains can improve our mental health and make our minds sharper.[1]

What’s more surprising is meditation can rebuild our brains in only eight weeks! That means you don’t need to be an expert in meditation to reap the benefits.

    ▲ Subjects of the study demonstrated significant change of brain structure after practicing meditation for 8 weeks.[2]

    Thinking of taking meditation as one of your habits but don’t know how to get started? Here are 6 things you can follow:

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    Look for a distraction-free environment

    While an area with total silence is an ideal environment for meditation, it is not a must for everyone. If you think playing some light music can help relieve your stress and make you more relaxed, it’s definitely fine to do so when you meditate. Studies have shown that white noise can help lower our stress level and increase our concentration level.[3]

    If you don’t want to meditate in a totally silent environment but have no idea of what to play, you can try start with this one:[4]

    Meditate with the posture you feel comfortable

    The Quarter Lotus is the most popular meditation posture. You sit on the floor cross-legged and rest your hands on your lap. And your back needs to keep straight throughout the process without slouching.

      But if you are the one with chronic back pain problem, this posture may not be the best choice for you. Actually, what posture you have is not the key for meditation. You can also lie on your bed or the floor to meditate. The most important thing is the posture can make you completely relaxed. Here are some variations for you:[5][6]

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      But please be reminded that if you choose to meditate while lying down, you should keep yourself awake throughout the process.

      Focus on your breathing tempo

      Having the right breathing tempo is important as it can make you highly relaxed and concentrated, which is the ideal state for meditation.[7]

      Close your eyes softly. Breathe as slowly and deeply as you can. Inhale with your nose and exhale from your mouth. If you do deep breathing correctly, you will feel your diaphragm is expanded and stretched.

      Some people may even feel some mild pain in their chests. But don’t worry, it’s acceptable as deep breathing is not our usual way of breathing. The discomfort will fade when we practice more.

      Always aim for longer exhalation than inhalation. If you difficulty in doing so, you can help yourself by counting numbers. For example, count 1 to 3 to make sure you inhale air within 3 seconds, and then count 1 to 7 for exhalation.

      Replace judgement with understanding in your mind

      It’s a common misconception that we need to empty our minds and stop any kinds of thinking when we meditate. That’s not the case. Instead, you should be open towards whatever thoughts or emotions pop up in your mind without judging them.

      Even if negative emotions like frustration, anger and anxiety creep into you mind when you meditate, you should not avoid them but understand why they are formed.

      After all, the ultimate goal of meditation is to understand more of yourself and so you can have greater control of your mind.

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      Never let time disturb you

      Whenever you meditate, always aim to do it for at least 15 minutes. Why? As a beginner, it is challenging for you to get your mind instantly prepared for meditation. If the time is too short, you may not be able to enter the zone before the session ends.

      But if 15 minutes is too challenging for you for the first time, start with 2 minutes first, and then gradually increase the time afterwards.

      Also, remember to grab a timer with you. This can spare your mind from thinking much about the time so you can focus on your breathing and thoughts. If you don’t have a timer yet, try this free online meditation timer !

      Have a guide to keep you on the right track

      You are inevitably prone to feeling lost whenever you start doing something without proper guidance. This is the case for meditation too. Audio guided meditations which provide clear step-by-step instructions can be a great help to you. By listening to what the instructor says, you can shut out the mental self-talk and keep your concentration intact.

      Here’s a good one for you:[8]

      So how do you know you’re meditating instead of just daydreaming?

      We all struggle between mental turbulence and mental dullness every day. That’s what we call emotional fluctuations in another term. Through meditation, we aim to find our inner equilibrium, which is the sweet spot in this image:[9]

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        ▲ Through meditation, you can strike a mental balance.

        When you reach your inner equilibrium, you will experience unprecedented calmness, mental clarity and sensitivity to the surroundings.

        But honestly, this is hard for beginners. So better indicators should be the ability to get less influenced by your emotions and feel concentrated more easily.

        When do you know you’re having progress when you play sports or musical instruments? That’s the moment when you need less time to perform a skill. It’s the same for meditation. You should look for spending less time to get into the zone in the beginner level.

        Common problems you may encounter when you start

        Q: My mind just keeps wandering and I can’t stop self-talk when I meditate. What should I do?

        A: Keep your mind occupied with a simple task. You can play a game of counting your breathing when you meditate. And it would be good if you keep changing the rules in the process. For example, you can start by counting 1 to 10 in sequence, then count backwards, and finally only count the odd numbers or even numbers. The key of this game is to maintaining the sensitivity of your mind and your focus.[10]

        Q: It’s hard for me to be fully relaxed. Should I start meditation first and calm myself by tuning my breathing tempo afterwards?

        A: No, you should never meditate when your mind is highly agitated. Doing this will only weaken the effectiveness of meditation. Make use of some external means, like doing exercise, listening to soft music, taking a shower or talking to your friends, to de-clutter your mind first.

        Q: I feel sleepy and just can’t help nodding off when I meditate. But I find this relaxing to me. Is this state acceptable for meditation?

        A: There’s nothing wrong if you meditate only for relaxation. But if you want to reap the benefits of having a sharper mind and better concentration through this habit, you should train your mindfulness and alertness. When you feel sleepy, you can straighten up your back, lift up your chin a bit, and inhale more deeply. Then you will feel more awake when you meditate.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Ricky Tang

        Editor. Movie Lover. Amateur Singer.

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        Last Updated on October 15, 2019

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

        To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

        All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

        There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

        With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

        What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

        1. Think Big

          From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

          “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

          There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

          Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

          Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

          Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
          Instead be ambitious.

          2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

            From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

            “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

            This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

            Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

            If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

            Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

            Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

            Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

            3. Learn How to Balance Life

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              From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

              “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

              All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

              If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

              However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

              If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

              In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

              To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

              4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                  From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                  “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                  This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                  It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                  If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                  Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                  6. Be a Person of Action

                    From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                    Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                    Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                    When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                    You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                    All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                    Applying this to you?

                    Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                    7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                      From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                      The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                      The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                      People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                      This is key to good leadership.

                      It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                      But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                      What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                      As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                      8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                        From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                        “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                        It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                        Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                        If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                        9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                          From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                          “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                          Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                          It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                          Keep dreaming!

                          10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                            From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                            “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                            Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                            Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                            If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                            However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                            11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                              From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                              “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                              It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                              When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                              Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                              If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                              This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                              12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                True success comes from work.

                                You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                  From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                  In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                  If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                  It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                  Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                  Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                  More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                  Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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