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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the benefits of having a meditation routine, but you might still feel a bit hesitant to start because you find the whole concept of meditating too daunting, or you think that you need a lot of time to practice meditation.

Or maybe, you tried it a few times but it felt frustrating because you felt your mind overflown with thoughts and you might have felt overwhelmed, and probably told yourself that you’re not good at it.

In this article, I’ll share basic concepts about the real purpose of meditation, the benefits of incorporating this sacred practice into your life and simple tips to follow, so you can clear away the obstacles to your daily practice and learn some basic practicing exercises that will make a positive difference in your life.

Your body and mind on morning meditation

Meditation is a great tool to maintain a healthy balance of dialogue between your mind and your body. It is a simple technique that you can practice anytime and anywhere to alleviate stress. Just like physical exercise, the more you practice, the more benefits you’ll notice and the longer they will last – in both, mind and body.

A study by The American Psychological Association reported that 40 percent of the people they surveyed reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress, while 46 percent said they lie awake at night due to high stress levels.

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Here’s the thing: you can focus on eating healthier, exercising more frequently, getting more sleep, using more natural products on our skin and at home, but if you don’t take care of your mind, you will still feel unbalanced in your life.

Meditation makes you have a cleaner body and clearer mind:[1]

    A Harvard study showed that meditating can help decrease stress and anxiety levels which in turn will diminish inflammation in our bodies, reduce blood pressure, improve attention, sleep better, help us make smarter choices and regulate our thoughts, so we don’t jump so fast into reacting and judging.

    Meditation helps to reduce stress, but a great benefit is that you will find peace within, the peace that spiritual traditions talk about that passes all understanding. One of the biggest goals of meditation is that you tune in with yourself and connect with your center, to get in touch with the energy of “oneness”.

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    Meditation is a way to get in the space between your thoughts. You have a thought here, a thought there and there’s little space between every thought that is called stillness – this space is the gateway to the infinite mind and that sense of divine connection.

    Clearing the obstacles to morning meditation

    The most common obstacles to meditation are the ones that we create ourselves, even if sometimes we are not aware.

    Here are a few of the most common ways we tend to resist starting a new meditation practice and what to do about it:

    “I don’t have time.”

    There’s a misconception that you need to sit down to meditate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. You can start your daily practice investing anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. You can set the rules for yourself! You just need to commit to starting.

    Start small, and as you practice more consistently I can tell you that you’ll start adding more time to your practice.

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    “I can’t sit still.”

    Do meditation your own way. Some people don’t like sitting but they enjoy walking meditations.

    Dr. Kelly McGonigal suggests a 10 minute walking meditation involving 1 minute of paying attention to each of the feelings of your body while walking, the feeling of your breath, the sensations of air or wind on your skin, what you can hear, and what you can see.

    “My mind never stops.”

    It is normal to feel frustration while learning to meditate. Shifting your expectations will help in overcoming this obstacle.

    Always focus on subtle incremental improvements. A great achievement is to gradually understand your mind and learn how to shift negative thinking.

    Basic morning meditation techniques

    Every good meditation practice begins with finding what works best for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate since there are different techniques or styles of meditation.

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    Here are a few of them:

    • Breathing meditation – You can use this technique alone as a meditation to calm your mind and reduce distractions. Simply focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. This video can help you with this.
    • Candle staring – This is great if you find it hard focusing. Just light a candle and stare at it. Your attention will be held. If your mind has thoughts, just thank them and go back to staring at the candle.
    • Mantra meditation – Repeating words can help you find calm and focus. Here are 8 powerful mantras for deep inner peace.
    • Guided meditation – There are many resources online that have guided meditations and music to help you relax. Just google “guided meditation” and you’ll find tons of resources.
    • Walking meditation – We cover that one above — a 10 minute walking meditation involving 1 minute of paying attention to each of the feelings of your body while walking, the feeling of your breath, the sensations of air or wind on your skin, what you can hear, and what you can see.
    • Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness is about recognizing what is happening in the present moment, including what is arising and passing. This includes thoughts, sounds, feelings in the body and anything else present. The idea is to just observe without judgment, and remain open and aware. Here is a step-by-step guide to practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life.

    Experiment different techniques and stick to what works best for you.

    The guided morning meditation

    If you have never meditated before or if you haven’t meditated in a long time, I recommend that you start with 5-10 minutes. With practice, you’ll be able to sit for longer periods of time.

    You can set an intention before you begin, but start your practice without attachment to any particular outcome or how your meditation practice “should” be. Just be open to experience what you’re meant to receive from every practice.

    The best time to meditate is early in the morning (before your coffee or tea), that way you set yourself up for a peaceful start to your day. Follow these simple steps to start you meditation practice:

    1. Find a place that will be your sacred space for meditation. Try to pick a room that is free from a lot noise or distractions, and make it cozy. You can add relaxing background music, light a candle and/or incense, or diffuse a relaxing essential oil.
    2. Choose a time. Make meditation a priority, set an appointment with yourself and practice at the same time every day and see this as feeding your soul. Some people like to meditate right before they go to bed, this will help you sleep more soundly.
    3. Wear comfortable clothes. For example your PJ’s.
    4. Sit comfortably. You can sit on a cushion on the floor, on your couch or a chair. Try to have backrest so you can keep your back erect. You don’t need to try fancy yogi postures at the beginning. Don’t lay down because most likely, you’ll fall asleep. Just sit still and straight.
    5. Set a timer.
    6. Always start your meditation practice with 5 to 7 long and slow deep breaths so you can start releasing tension.
    7. Then just start focusing your mind on an object. It could be the flame of a candle, your breathing or repeating a mantra like “I am”.
    8. Just know that you’ll have thoughts, you might feel sensations in your body and you might hear sounds in your environment. It’s all normal. Whenever you become conscious of that, just go back to the object you were focusing on, or go back to paying attention to your breathing again, or repeating your mantra, but do it mentally without moving your lips and your tongue.

    Even if you feel like you didn’t accomplish much with your practice on a specific day, be consistent. Honor and acknowledge yourself for taking the time to practice. Even if you feel that the effects are not obvious, be grateful for your practice and in no time you’ll be glad you started!

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    [1] The Art of Living: The benefits of meditation
    you never knew

    More by this author

    Patricia Young

    Certified Professional & Holistic Coach, bestselling author, host of the Awakening to Life podcast

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    Published on February 26, 2021

    3 Common Causes Of Stress That Are Depleting Your Energy

    3 Common Causes Of Stress That Are Depleting Your Energy

    Are you feeling amplified anxiety, sadness, or anger lately? An astounding 84% of adults have felt at least one of these stress-related emotions in the two weeks prior to being surveyed, according to this recent Stress in America report.[1] Although it’s often comforting to know you’re not alone, the pervasiveness of this particular shared experience is disconcerting. But first, what causes stress?

    What Causes Stress?

    Lurking beneath the surface of this collective situation are some deeper factors: feelings of powerlessness and a diminished sense of certainty.

    Due to a variety of events over the past year, control over numerous elements of our lives has been stripped away, leaving us feeling frustrated, afraid, and unsure about the future. It’s as if someone took the puzzle of our lives, broke apart every segment we had painstakingly pieced together, then shook them up and dumped them into a scrambled mess on the floor. On top of that, we’re trying to put it all back together while slogging through in survival mode, every day, on repeat—it’s enough to make even the Energizer Bunny feel depleted.

    From this place of disempowered overwhelm, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like there is little we can do to regain our footing and overcome the stress. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth.

    Let’s look on the bright side: We can all improve our energy and relieve stress simply by shifting a few essential habits.

    When everything feels out of control, here are 3 often-overlooked areas where you can be in control and obliterate the common causes of stress that are depleting your energy. Each is proven to directly compound stress and deplete energy when neglected but enhance energy and stress relief when managed proactively.

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    1. Sleep Quality Secrets to Snub the Stubborn Stress-Fatigue Cycle

    You may be well aware of how stress disrupts or prevents a good night’s rest. Frustrations over the day’s events or anxiety about what’s coming tomorrow are common blocks to getting enough zzzz’s. But did you know that the reverse is also true?

    Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. One such study found that subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. They also cited a dramatic improvement in mood upon return to normal sleep. [2]

    In addition to these directly mood-related symptoms, lack of sleep can cause muddled focus, fatigue, and impairment of information processing which often result in secondary causes of stress. We feel like the walls are falling around us as we run behind schedule, struggle to collect scrambled thoughts, suffer the consequences of knee-jerk reactions, and fight the inevitable downsides of exhaustion, including clouded judgment, inhibited self-control, and difficulty in making decisions or completing tasks.

    Unfortunately, our favorite fixes are actually counterproductive. Two of the most common substances used in direct response to not getting enough sleep—alcohol to relax us enough to fall asleep and caffeine to perk us up after inadequate sleep—only worsen our ability to secure consistent and restful slumber, creating a vicious cycle. Relying on these “band-aid fixes” only amplifies and prolongs our feelings of stress.[3][4]

    Ultimately, sleep deprivation secretly undermines our ability to make smart choices when it comes to regaining control over the other causes of stress which are depleting our energy.

    Here are two simple tips to help you sleep better tonight:

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    • Turn off all screens at least one hour before hitting the hay to send the signal to your brain that it’s bedtime and ease your mind into sleepy relaxation.
    • Be intentional with your soothing bedtime rituals. Instead of mindlessly passing the time in the hours before you turn in, focus on an activity that feels soothing and nurturing like a foot massage or a few gentle yoga poses.

    2. Focus on Comfort Food for Extra Energy and Simple Stress Relief

    The word “malnutrition” is commonly associated with poverty-related food shortages. However, in the medical world, the prefix “mal-” is also defined as “defective.” By broadening our understanding of this term, we can see that nutrient deficiencies can happen for people of any socioeconomic status—and they do.

    The hustle culture endorsed by the industrialized world has created an abundance of quick and convenient food (and, let’s be honest, “fake food”) options that are minimally nourishing. The USDA’s most recent Dietary Guidelines reports that about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, yet inadequate intake of nutrients that are proven to both relieve stress and increase energy (e.g., B vitamins and magnesium) remains common.[5][6] The data clearly shows that, for the majority of adults in the USA, the quality of our food is disproportionate to the quantity.

    This reality has been compounded by pandemic-related stress eating, which is so prevalent that participants of a study published in September 2020 averaged a staggering 7 lbs weight gain in only 4 months.[7] This snapshot demonstrates that the foods we tend to crave, either for comfort or convenience, are usually high in sugars, saturated fats, and simple carbohydrates—all of which actually amplifies the stress response in the body.[8]

    There is a funny-not-funny irony in the fact that the acronym for the U.S. eating style is SAD (Standard American Diet). We readily sacrifice nutrient needs for the sake of saving our time and money, which are poured right back into the culture that requires us to be so busy. We are drawn to unhealthy comfort foods like moths to a flame in an attempt to soothe ourselves—yet these exact foods only lead to feeling even more stressed and depleted.

    So, what can we do?

    Making smart food choices in itself is inherently stressful for many people. The internal battle can be just as impactful in causing stress and depleting your energy as the food choices themselves. If you can relate, don’t worry. It’s not necessary to focus on calorie counting or weight loss here.

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    Instead, take comfort in a couple of easily doable steps toward shifting your dietary habits:

    • Be mindful of your intake of highly processed foods, and enjoy the benefits of simply adding a few stress-relieving, energizing foods and beverages to your daily repertoire.
    • Water, green tea, Brazil nuts, sweet potatoes, fresh baby spinach, brown rice, avocados, oatmeal, bananas, salmon, lean beef, and blueberries are all great choices to get you started.

    3. A Surprising Battle for Your Attention, and How to Win the War

    The pressure to be “always-on” has long been a major cause of stress for highly driven people. We live in an internet-centric world that has only been compounded by the circumstances of the pandemic. Working from home has blurred the lines between personal and professional boundaries, and many are suffering the consequences.

    The combination of issues culminating from the past year has also kept people glued to the media and their newsfeeds. If you ever feel angry, anxious, sad, hopeless, or exhausted after watching the news or scrolling social media, this could be one of the main causes of stress that is depleting your energy. In fact, a study showed elevated levels of stress hormone (cortisol) and increased negative response to subsequent stressors after watching negative news.[9]

    Research even shows that smartphones and social media apps manipulate the dopamine-driven reward system in our brains to create a habit that mimics gambling addiction.[10] Even when these tools don’t cost money, they have the capacity to deplete something much more valuable—our time, energy, and peace of mind.

    This volatile mix may be generating a baseline cause of stress that has led directly to some of the other causes of stress mentioned in this article, including lack of sleep, alcohol or caffeine use, and unsupportive food choices/mindless eating.

    Now, more than ever, we need to resist the urge to bombard our brains with fear-based information and distraction-inducing habits.

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    Forward-focused actions to take now:

    • Create firm boundaries around your “check-in” time for reading and responding to emails or social media, both personal and professional.
    • Disable notifications on your devices to eliminate distractions.
    • Eliminate or minimize news exposure and only consume news from deliberately selected sources.
    • Stay focused on your top priorities and make sure your actions are aligned. Put this note on your screensaver/wallpaper as a reminder: “Is my behavior getting me what I want?”

    Putting the Pieces Back Together

    By flipping our perspective, we can see these lifestyle choices as the active causes of stress that they are, instead of stress aftereffects that are outside of our control. Circumstance might have made a mess of our puzzles, but we each have the power to pick up the pieces.

    With a few simple shifts and a dedication to change, we can stop approaching them from a passive or reactive stance and take intentional action to improve our daily life. Just pause, look at the big picture, and reclaim control—then, watch as the puzzle pieces of your life click back into place with more energized ease and calm.

    Tips on How to Handle Stress

    Featured photo credit: engin akyurt via unsplash.com

    Reference

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