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Published on June 13, 2018

Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

Imagine yourself running at top speed. After a few minutes pass, you feel yourself slowly getting out of breath. You feel the aches in your muscles as your body slows down but you keep pushing yourself to keep going. Eventually, you collapse because you’ve exhausted all energy and you can no longer function.

For many people, this is what we do to our minds when we are constantly under stress. All the thoughts dictated by our endless to-do lists accompanied by our worries and fears are burning out our brains.

What if I told you there was a simple process backed by science that you can do in as little as 20 minutes a day that will lower your stress levels, improve your decision making skills and relieve anxiety?

This process is meditation. It has now become widely popular with over 18 million people practicing it in the U.S. alone[1] and it now also has grown into a billion dollar business.[2] Leading companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs and Salesforce use meditation practices in the workplace and 22% of employers have offered mindfulness training to staff back in 2016.

We’ve created this article about meditation for beginners so you can learn about what it is, and how you can use it right now to start experiencing the many benefits it provides.

What meditation means to your body and mind

The actual practice of meditation can be done in many different ways but the one type that has shown promising results is known as mindfulness meditation.

The purpose of the practice is to train your mind to be firmly focused on the present moment. It involves the act of focusing your attention on something such as your breathing, as well as taking moments to simply observe and be aware of things around and within you.

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Meditation recharges your brain

Meditation is what helps you to be in a restful and recuperative state where you are not controlled by your thoughts and feelings. As a result your mind will become better able to manage them in a way where you just observe them so you can make better decisions.

“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”[3]

Meditation keeps your brain healthy

Just like how exercises will make your body physically stronger, this mental exercise will make your brain stronger. It activates the parts of your brain that promote things like intelligence, empathy, and happiness just to list a few.

It’s a known fact that our brain start slowly shrinking starting around the age of 30[4] but keeping your brain in shape with meditation can prevent the shrinking altogether.

Meditation hears the cries of your body

When we’re too busy, we may not notice the subtle symptoms of our body. For example, when we are stressed, there are early symptoms such as tightness, irritation and heaviness in the body. When we ignore these symptoms, it can lead to much more amplified symptoms such as high blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.

Meditation helps you become more aware with what your body has been trying to communicate with you about your health and well-being in order address certain issues before it’s too late.[5]

Why it’s worth it to start meditation

Over 50 years of scientific research has shown compelling evidence of the many different types of benefits meditation can have on both your brain and your body.

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One of the most compelling piece of evidence for meditation that I have found was that it literally changes your brain. Brain scans have shown that the neuron rich part of the brain known as grey matter was noticeably increased in multiple areas of the brain involved with important functions such as decision making, emotional regulation and memory.[6]

To learn more about some of the amazing benefits, you can read my other article: 15 Ways Meditation Boosts Your Brain Power and Your Mood

A simple way to meditate (even for absolute beginners)

If you’ve never meditated before, spending as little as 2 minutes a day may be a great start to develop a meditation habit and experience the results.[7]

One thing to keep in mind is that meditation isn’t about trying to stop your thoughts. It’s more about being aware of them and then simply allowing them to come and go.

All you need is a comfortable space where you are likely not to be disturbed and do the following:

  1. Sit with your back straight at a comfortable level, either on a chair or on the floor (Whichever is more comfortable).
  2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
  3. Take one deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  4. While breathing out, gently close your eyes and resume normal breathing
  5. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment. Feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
  6. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing and notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation.
  7. When you’ve realized your mind has wandered from any thoughts, sounds or other sensations, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
  8. Gradually bring the attention back to your body and the space around you. Then gently open your eyes again.
  9. Take a moment to soak in how that felt for you before going about your day.

Clearing the obstacles to meditation

There are many things that may be preventing you from experiencing the amazing results of engaging in regular meditation. Here are some challenges to expect as well as some guidance on how to handle them:

  • Doubt – Your skepticism might take over and you might be questioning if such a simple practice can really help you in any way. A ton of evidence has shown it does, so go in with an open mind and trust the process. You will notice the changes gradually and the possibilities will soon become a reality for you.
  • Restlessness – You may find yourself restless and constantly distracted with thoughts when meditating. Be aware this is totally normal especially in the beginning. Like any other practice, you will have some good days and bad days but as you continue training your mind, you’ll become more and more fluent with entering into a calm state.
  • Impatience– You might not experiencing the benefits as quickly as some other people do. Don’t worry. While it might take you a little longer to see the positive outcomes, go at your own pace and as you continue to practice and get better, you will definitely experience the results.
  • Sleepiness – You will definitely have trouble focusing if you’re tired or low on energy. If you find this happening often, try to meditate during a time where you are more awake such as earlier in the day rather than closer to bedtime.
  • Discouragement – As with any other new habit formation, life happens and you will miss some days that you were hoping to get a meditation session in. Don’t let this discourage you into giving up. Keep moving forward and do it whenever you can. Every little bit helps to create a big result.

Basic techniques and practicing exercises (With specific steps)

Two of the most researched types of meditation include focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM).

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Focused attention meditation involves the active focusing of attention on an object, your breathing, an image or some words.

Open monitoring meditation involves more of a observation approach where you practice being aware of any experience that comes up without any judgement nor focus towards it.

Most mindfulness meditation sessions use a combination of both these types with focused attention meditation usually in the beginning and gradually shifting to open monitoring meditation.

To help you take your meditation a little further, here are some basic techniques you can practice for each type:

Focused attention meditation

Focused attention meditation can be done in a variety of ways as there are many things you can choose to focus on. Here are some basic techniques that you can use to incorporate:

  • Breathing Meditation – This is a very common form of focused attention method where you focus on the breath while meditating. Simply count to 10 with each breath that goes in and out and repeat. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring the focus back to your breath and start the count over again.
  • Walking Meditation – Go out for a walk at a comfortable pace. As you do, start focusing on the sensations you feel in your body. Notice the weight of your feet as it hits the floor and the swinging of your arms with each stride. If you find thoughts coming into your mind, just gently bring the focus back to the sensations you feel as you walk.
  • Mantra Meditation – A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. It can be any word so choose a positive one you like that’s comfortable for you to say. As you begin meditation, close your eyes and repeat your mantra to yourself. Focus only on the sound and feel of your mantra and gently bring your focus back to it whenever your mind wanders.
  • Object or Image Meditation – This involves placing your focus either on an image in your mind or on an actual object in the environment. Meditation with images can be done with your eyes closed whereas you would need to do it with your eyes open when focusing on an actual object such as a flower or candle flame.

Open monitoring meditation

Open monitoring meditation is all about observing experiences without judging or getting attached to them. This sort of awareness of your thoughts and feelings without being controlled by them is what’s referred to as mindfulness.

This promotes the clarity, perspective and wisdom that comes when gaining insight and helps you make better decisions especially when handling challenging emotions such as fear and stress.

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Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Get comfortable into your meditation position and relax.
  2. Take long and deep breaths. With every exhale, feel how your body is getting more and more relaxed.
  3. Now rest your awareness in the present moment.
  4. Tune into your sensory experiences for several moments. Take a moment to observe the weight of your body on the chair and your hands on your lap. Notice any sounds or smells in your room.
  5. Monitor your organs by doing a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes and observe any sensations as you do it.
  6. Take your awareness deeper by monitoring and thoughts or feelings. Recognize any deep emotions. Remember not to think about these emotions, but to simply notice them instead. One way that can help you not get caught up in the emotion is to label them. If you experience fear, just tell yourself “This is fear”. Then let go of it.
  7. When your mind wanders from the moment, resist the urge to attach yourself to those thoughts. Just let them come and go.
  8. Exit the meditation by letting your mind slip out of awareness and back to the present moment.

Guided meditation

One way to help you get started and really experience the perks of meditation is to participate in guided meditation.

You can always search for a local class or if you’re more introverted, you can download great apps like Headspace that have free meditation sessions that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

You can also try this Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

The transformation you’ve been searching for

One of the key ways that meditation helps you, is by bringing you to the realization that you are not your thoughts or feelings; meditation frees you if you’ve been chained by your thoughts.

By simply connecting with and being more aware of yourself, you develop the amazing ability to handle stress, improve your health and increase your intellect.

So take two minutes now to close your eyes, focus on your breath and be present. Then you’ll be on your way to changing your life for the better.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Eugene K. Choi

I use the power of storytelling and brain science to help people discover how to best utilize their passions and talents

How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life 17 Tactics to Drastically Improve Communication in Relationships 15 Trustworthy Techniques to Prevent Relationship Problems Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

Why Giving up Is Not an Option (And How to Stay Motivated)

Why Giving up Is Not an Option (And How to Stay Motivated)

We all get them – those feelings of doubt, fear, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-belief. Whatever it is we want to achieve in life, no matter how much we want it, there will always be times when you hit a challenging period, your motivation hits a wall and you feel like giving up.

When difficult times do stop you in your tracks, you need a way to push through, learn and understand what it is that’s truly demotivating you, what your mindset is telling you about the way you deal with challenges and coming out the other side a strong, successful person.

Video Summary

In this article you’ll learn that tough times make even the most motivated person consider giving up and this is completely normal. That despite the overwhelming feeling of wanting to just give up, it’s actually the most important time not to.

What makes you want to give up easily

Identifying the reasons why giving up seems like the best option is so important. There are many reasons why people want to give up and each is driven by different motivations. However, there are a few human instincts that come into play here.

  • Mistaking lessons for failure: Not being able to see the roadblock for the lesson it is and keep going anyway.
  • The outcome is more important than the journey: Putting more emphasis on the end result and dismissing the importance of how you’re getting to the end goal and growing along the way.
  • Seeing the failure before it’s even happened: Self-sabotaging yourself by creating the thought that it just won’t happen. This is usually down to limiting beliefs and lack of self-belief.
  • Lack of discipline: Realizing that achieving your dream won’t just fall into your lap within a few weeks but will actually take hard work and determination.
  • Not adjusting to changes: Not embracing changes in direction, the need to tweak ideas or finding things evolve differently to how you originally imagined it and taking it as a sign it’s not meant to work out, are showing you that you’re not open to changes and the natural evolution to something even more amazing.

People often say, the moment they almost decided to give up was the moment just before they had a breakthrough. While demotivation, failure and giving up feels horrible, there’s a reason for this; it’s because you’re giving up on something that deep down you know is possible. 

Why you should think twice about giving up

The power lies with your mindset and shifting this is key to keeping up the motivation you need when the going gets tough. This is why it’s important to realize why you shouldn’t give in and give up.

Instant success is a myth

It is a generation of instant gratification which creates the illusion that everyone needs what they want. People look at other successful people and assume they got overnight success but in reality it took hard work and a lot of failing to get where they did. Most never see the journey but only the destination, and they fall in love with this idea that they don’t need to work hard to get it.

Understand this is a myth. Don’t be deterred by this because actually the journey is where the magic happens and makes your end goal ever more sweet.

A different approach maybe needed

People judge themselves so harshly and assume that they are just not capable if they seem to be failing at something they want. It could simply be resolved by trying a different approach.

People are often so focused on the end goal and believe there’s just one or two ways to get there. In fact there may be a hundred more avenues that their mind isn’t opening up to.

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Open up and change your perspective. Are there other ways you can do it that feels better to you?

You’ll always wonder ‘what if’

That feeling of regret can hit you hard. What if I’d just stuck with it? I could have achieved it by now. What if I hadn’t given up, how different my life would be?

While regret is the number one thing you shouldn’t waste your time doing, before you quit your dream just imagine how your life could transform and where you could be in a year, two years or five years.

Don’t give your future self the chance to become regretful because of the one decision you make in the present moment.

You could be quitting right before your success

Many times, when people give up, they’re actually just a step away from success like this:

    The toughest times are a precursor to a major breakthrough to success. Think of it as being tested just to make sure this is exactly what you want.

    Decide yes, I still want this more than ever! You’re pretty much saying yep, give it to me now I deserve this after all I’ve done and this is usually the time it happens. Keep going! It’s all about trust that it’s going to work out.

    It’ll happen again and again

    Do you find yourself quitting things a lot?  By default, your habitual mindsets and thought patterns play out over and over again throughout your life if you don’t identify and change them. Don’t think, ‘I’ll have another go in a year’s time’ because you are really likely to repeat exactly the same pattern again.

    It’s important to sit down with yourself and identify why you have a tendency to give up. This may feel uncomfortable and you may feel resistance to doing the process. But once you actually work through your limiting beliefs, they can be released really quickly and help you to remove mental obstacles you didn’t know were stopping you.

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    Struggle does not equate to failure

    We’ve been led to believe en mass that struggle is something to be ashamed of. It’s somehow a negative representation of our core character and ability to move through the world. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Never think of hard times as failure. In fact, just take failure out of your vocabulary. Stop caring about what others think and just know and believe you are capable of getting through it and coming out the other end.

    Struggle actually builds character. It’s there to serve you – to help you learn something you’ll need to use later on. Stop assuming struggle is negative but see it as a blessing on your road to great success.

    How to stay motivated

    The thing people tend to forget when all they want to do is give up is that failure doesn’t fix anything. Maybe for a moment you’ll feel relief because you no longer have to face that challenge, but the satisfaction will be fleeting.

    Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, drinking, or any kind of bad habits; or whether you’re trying to achieve a goal; the misery you were experiencing will be back, one way or another if you choose to give up at the most difficult time.

    The real challenge you’re experiencing in that moment is your own weakness manifesting in a physical form. When you accept that you aren’t worthy or good enough, that’s the mind set you will keep.

    No matter what challenge you are facing (be it work or play) you will struggle with maintaining your optimism, dedication and will power because you haven’t addressed the real issue: yourself.

    Imagine the Great Challenge as a big rock in front of you.

      If you choose to give up, you work around the stone just to go around it.

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        Yet the fastest way to get over it is to break this big rock and go right through it.

          It’s the same with your weaknesses. You could continue to adjust your life to fit your fears (i.e. no longer job-hunting because you’ve accepted you will always fail), or you could keep sending out applications and calling to follow up and schedule interviews.

          No matter how great the challenge is, breaking it down is a must.

          In order to truly stay motivated, no matter how great the challenge is, you’ve got to learn to break the Great Challenge down.

            To truly overcome your weakness, you need break down the big rock into smaller pieces and deal with the small stones piece by piece.

              Right now it may seem impossible. It may seem like this is the hardest thing you will ever go through. But remember how often your threshold changes.

              Below are some tips that can help you take those first steps in keeping your chin up and truly facing the difficult choices in your life:

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              1. Figure out what you lack

              No matter what the challenge you’re facing may be, there’s a reason it’s challenging to you. If it’s a job, why is it you aren’t getting hired? Go back through the job listings and skills required and find the common thread your resume doesn’t have. Is it not listed because you don’t have it? If so, work on doing something to give you that skill. Be it an online course or a volunteer project, do something to help push you closer to the “perfect candidate.”

              2. Be patient with yourself

              No one becomes a CEO overnight. If you have big dreams, you’re going to have to do big work to accomplish them. It’s okay to take time figuring out the best way to proceed, but it’s not okay to walk away because it’s challenging.

              3. Be proud of yourself for every small win

              Have you ever noticed how a small mistake can weigh on you for days? Whether or not you categorize yourself as a dramatic person doesn’t matter when it comes to the guilt we so often put upon ourselves. But when we make small strides in achieving our goal(s), we never seem to give ourselves much respect.

              When we fail to pat ourselves on the back for little victories, it decreases our motivation and makes it much harder to achieve big goals.[1]

              4. Remember that you aren’t the first to feel this way

              When we face difficult choices or events in our lives, we often forget that we are not the first/only/last to experience this. Everyone faces hard decisions – be it deciding to end a relationship, changing careers, moving to a different place and leaving friends behind. We all go through it.

              So don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends or family for a sounding board. In some cases, they may even be able to offer you advice you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

              5. Know that you will grow as a person just from going through it

              We build character through those hard times. The old cliche, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is true. When you go through something challenging, you learn from it, regardless of the outcome. Recognize the opportunities for learning and personal development.

              6. Remember that you have choices

              No matter how hard the challenge you’re facing may be, one of the best things you can focus on is that you have choices. Only you can decide how you handle something and the steps you take. More so, only you can decide how you take the next step.

              You have the power to stand in your own way and to get out of it. Allow yourself to stay motivated by choosing to be stay motivated.

              Choose to see obstacles as lessons. Ask yourself, what is this showing me? What is it bringing up for me? In most cases, they’re there to point you in a direction you’ve previously not considered. Trust in this and keep going.

              Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

              Reference

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