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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How Do You Meditate? 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

How Do You Meditate? 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

Do you meditate?

Negativity surrounds you in the form of people and situations. You react to every element and lose your conscious response. That repulsive reaction makes you a negative over-thinker!

Ever heard of tool to cut the chord of negativity and lead a blissful life?

It’s meditation.

The state of meditation is a fuel of your inner world for a pleasant sail in your outer world.

There are many reasons to meditate. Want to know the foremost?

A meditated mind enables you to create your karma consciously. When you do that, the sources say you achieve the ultimate purpose of life- To feel happy![1]

So yes, feeling happiness is the biggest reason to meditate!

To unlock the magical experience of meditation, you neither follow a thumb rule nor turn into an ascetic. Meditation is any means of creating a majestic experience.

So how do you meditate?

No one can tell you which meditation technique gives you the best experience. You need to find your own course. But don’t overburden your mind with tonnes of techniques.

Just start… How? When? For how much time? Leave them all.

Start with a mindset you’ll spend a little alone time to enjoy solitude. Until you find your best meditation technique, let me explain:

1. Mindfulness Meditation

This form of meditation creates wonders in mind. It is the tool to maximize the concentration; the secret to extracting mind’s fullest potential.

How to Do It

Mindfulness meditation practice couldn’t be simpler:

Take a good seat, pay attention to the breath, and when your attention wanders, return.[2]

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Don’t be hard on yourself. More it is effortless, more blissful is your experience.

Not as easy as chewing a piece of gum!

Playing hide and seek, thoughts are turbulence reaching that mind-sate. But that is what the challenge is all about — to reduce the frequency and polish the quality of thoughts.

Don’t expect dramatic magic the first few days. Please be patient and don’t stop; this is where you’ll get the result.

You are always close reaching there. Do it every day to feel it one day. Once you taste the experience, trust me it’ll become as customary as eating food.

Come on! 15 minutes is what it asks.

2. Open Monitoring Meditation

This meditation technique is about perceiving everything the way it is, not as per your judgmental convenience. It is one of the best technique to learn the art of loving with detachment.

How to Do It

In “open monitoring meditation,” one begins to practice “awareness of thinking.” All we must do to practice this form of meditation is to be aware of our thoughts and feelings and observe them without attachment.[3]

Whether it’s a feeling from your inner world or a sound from the outer world, allow everything to free-flow without focusing on a particular thing.

Attachment is the root cause of suffering — Gautama Buddha

When you learn the art of detachment, you don’t stick to failures and loses. You move on.

My observation says… “Open monitoring meditation” is the perfect answer to “How to create awareness in the present moment?”.

3. Follow Compassion

It is one of the best meditation techniques to feel content and blissful.

If empathy is to feel the pain of others by stepping into their shoes, compassion is to walk wearing those shoes. It is the conversion of feelings into action, doing something to relieve the pain of others.[4]

‘Help’ is just a four-letter word, but its impact is beyond words. Not only it makes the recipient blissful but also the one offering help.

How to Do It

You don’t have to do anything extra for a start. Many help-seekers are around you.

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Your emotional friend needs your moral advice and a beggar lying on street needs your financial help.

If you have a solution to any of their problems, please don’t walk away leaving them suffering.

Help them without expectations. Not only for them, do it for yourself.

Your karma produces an unmatched feeling of contentment. It’ll enable you to have a positive approach towards life.

4. Change Your Lifestyle

Ever heard about this technique?

A different experience altogether as it involves both mind and body. Not only it is the key to live happier but longer and stronger.

How to Do It

The best thing about this meditation technique is there isn’t a particular time or place to do it. You can do it anytime, anyplace.

It starts with one small sacrifice — seeking self-control.

It could be anything from your routine or diet, forgoing an hour’s sleep to welcome the sunshine or resisting sugar in your delicious coffee.

A little voluntary sacrifice has a rejuvenating effect on the mind and body. It boosts inner-self attributes and fuels your motivation levels to choose the right path.

These simple lifestyle changes, for example, may seem small, but they can lead to big improvements to your health. Try them now to start thriving 24-7.[5]

Make sure you make realistic and small targets because the purpose is to achieve them. The effect of accomplishment is a joyous experience.

5. Do Whatever You Feel

It is one of the most beautiful techniques for developing self-love and shooting self-esteem. Unless you are not harming anyone, doing whatever you love is a soulful experience.

How to Do It

We are different, incomparable individuals. I feel there is one uniqueness in every soul which distinguishes him/her from others. You need to explore your passion to pursue it.

I love to write, and this is what I am doing — writing my soul out. It makes me complete as an individual.

Ask yourself that one thing which makes you smile, which no one does better. When you get an answer, make it worthy to define you.

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If you don’t feel fortunate enough to do whatever you feel, the next technique is for you.

6. Feel Whatever You Do

It is the best technique to make you an endeavor. Come what may, you’ll always be a winner in life.

How to Do It

The initiation requires an explanation:

Not everyone is fortunate to do whatever they feel. Sometimes, you need to submit to life’s unpredictable nature. And if it’s a bread-butter fight, the passion for anything not yielding money initially, becomes secondary.

This technique is about accepting life the way it is. You need to see the positive side, always.

Instead of counting your weaknesses and shortfalls, you need to count on your strengths and blessings. Gradually, you develop a feeling of appreciation towards life.

This appreciation itself is a technique helps you develop an optimistic approach full of opportunities and possibilities. You develop a nothing-to-lose attitude which makes you fearless of the outer world.

Who knows, when you practice this technique, you reach a state where you start doing whatever you feel.

7. Walking Meditation

This meditation technique is an answer to your impatience in meditation while sitting. It is a gateway to many powerful meditation techniques.

In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps. Your steps are the most important thing. — Thich Nhat Hanh

I discovered it accidentally. With no mechanical mode available to commute, I walked 5 kilometers to attend an important meeting. With no extra effort, I was just aware of my steps.

Yes, that was a lively experience.

How to Do It

Start with a small walk — morning, evening, dinner, anytime. Feel your moving steps to create awareness about the same. Even if your mind diverts; bring it back to your steps.

You’ll become calmer and cheerful.

Mindfulness practice of all kinds, especially walking meditation, is highly nourishing and allows you to find a moment of peace and a sense of being grounded or “balanced” each day that’s invaluable for our well-being.[6]

Walking is one of the physical activities which doesn’t tire but energizes your body. But it is you who has to make it a pleasant experience for your mind too.

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8. Connect with Nature

This form of meditation is a source of immense positive energy. It is one of your rare interactions with the outer world without altercations.

How to Do It

Nothing special, just interact with nature. Find a place in the green where the outer environment is serene and peaceful, not a place full of air pollution or people population.

Listen to nature’s offer — the sound of a flowing river, chattering birds or the flowing wind.

Mesmerized by nature’s beauty, you’ll comprehend its essence.

But there is a problem with your mind-state. Completely driven by the social environment, you have lost awareness over the natural environment.

Nature is waiting to tell you a beautiful story. Please be patient to listen to it. It’ll give you another dimension to experiencing life.

The Bottom Line

Easy to follow, and immensely effective, all the meditation techniques mentioned above are for complete beginners. These are simple meditation techniques which only seek your initial patience. Try every technique to find out the one giving you the most worldly experience.

Most things from the outer world induce stress and raise anxiety levels. It is you who has to find the peace inside. The best thing about meditation is it changes the way you respond to everything. You blossom as an individual.

Start your day with an effortless smile. No matter how busy you are, take out time to meditate. Not only you know yourself bigger but you adapt to situations better.

I find the morning time the best time to meditate. If you are an early riser, this guided morning meditation for beginners is the answer you are seeking:

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

Even if brunch is your first meal of the morning, you can try this:

How Guided Meditation for Sleep Improves Your Mindset While Awake

Happy exploring your best way to enjoy solitude… Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Raychan via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Amanpreet Singh

Amanpreet Singh is a soulful blogger by passion and a mindful businessman by profession.

How to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job and Lead Your Dream Career How Do You Meditate? 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better? 10 Things to Do When You Think You’re Not Good Enough

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Published on April 9, 2021

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

Mindfulness has become a popular buzzword in the health and wellness industry. However, few people truly understand what it is. My aim here is to teach you what mindfulness is and how it helps your mental wellness. By the end of this article, you will understand the meaning and benefits of mindfulness. Additionally, you will develop the ability to integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is approximately 2500-years-old with deep roots in the Eastern world as a spiritual, ethical, and philosophical practice. These roots are intimately connected to the Buddhist practice of vipassana meditation.[1]

Mindfulness continues to be practiced as a cultural and spiritual tradition in many parts of the world. For Buddhists, it offers an ethical and moral code of conduct. For many, mindfulness is more than a practice—it is a way of life.[2]

However, mindfulness has evolved in the Western world and has become a non-religious practice for wellbeing. The evolution began around 1979 when Jon-Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).[3] Since then, mindfulness has emerged in the health and wellness industry and continues to evolve.

It is important to recognize the distinctions between mindfulness as a clinical practice and mindfulness as a cultural practice. The focus of this article is on the clinical model of mindfulness developed in the West.

Many researchers have integrated aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness into clinical psychiatry and psychology. Buddhism has helped to inform many mental health theories and therapies. However, the ethical and moral codes of conduct that drive Buddhist practices are no longer integrated into the mindfulness practices most-often taught in the Western world.[4] Therefore, Western mindfulness is often a non-spiritual practice for mental wellness.

Mindfulness aims to cultivate present moment awareness both within the body and the environment.[5] However, awareness is only the first element. Non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment is essential for true mindfulness to occur. Thoughts and feelings are explored without an emphasis on right, wrong, past, or future.

The only necessary condition for mindfulness to occur is non-judgmental acceptance and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It does not need to be complex even though structured programs exist.

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How Mindfulness Helps Your Mental Wellness

Along with MBSR, other models have been developed and adapted for use by clinical counselors, psychologists, and therapists. These include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).[6]

Structured models of mindfulness allow researchers to study its benefits. Research has uncovered an abundance of benefits including mental, physical, cognitive, and spiritual. The following is not a comprehensive list of all its benefits, but it will begin to uncover how mindfulness helps mental wellness.

Benefits on Your Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness can have positive impacts on mental health. It has been positively associated with desirable traits, such as:

  • Autonomy
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Competence
  • Empathy
  • Optimism

Mindfulness helps to improve self-esteem, increase life satisfaction and enhance self-compassion. It is associated with pleasant emotions and mood. Overall, people who practice this appear to be happier and experience more joy in life. Not only does it increase happiness but it may also ward off negativity.

Mindfulness helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and regulate emotions. For example, it may decrease fear, stress, worry, anger, and anxiety. It also helps to reduce rumination, which is a repetition of negative thoughts in the mind.

MBSR was originally designed to treat chronic pain. It has since evolved to include the treatment of anxiety and depression. Clinical studies have shown that MBSR is linked with:

  • Reduced chronic pain and improved quality of life
  • Decreased risk of relapse in depression
  • Reduced negative thinking in anxiety disorders
  • Prevention of major depressive disorders
  • Reducing substance-use frequency and cravings

However, more research is needed before these clinical studies can be generalized to the public. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence to suggest MBSR may be beneficial for mental health.[7]

Benefits on Your Cognitive Health

Mindfulness has many important benefits for cognitive health as well. In a study of college students, mindfulness increased performance in attention and persistence. Another study found that individuals who practice it have increased cognitive flexibility. A brain scan found increased thickness in areas of the brain related to attention, interception, and sensory processing.[8]

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To explain this another way, practicing mindfulness can improve the ability to shift from one task to the next, increase attention span and increase awareness of bodily sensations and the environment. Therefore, it has the potential to literally change your brain for the better.

Harvard researchers are also interested in studies of the brain and mindfulness. One researcher studied how brain changes are sustained even when individuals are not engaged in mindfulness. Their research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the moments of mindfulness.[9]

Another study found that the benefits of mindfulness training lasted up to five years. In this particular case, individuals participating in mindfulness activities showed increased attention-span. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase problem-solving and decrease mind wandering.[10]

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. However, most practices include these elements:

  • An object to focus awareness on (breath, body, thoughts, sounds)
  • Awareness of the present moment
  • Openness to experience whatever comes up
  • Acceptance that the mind will wander
  • The intention to return awareness to the object of focus whenever the mind wanders

A practice that encompasses these elements is typically called mindfulness meditation. Most mindfulness meditations will be practiced between 5 to 50 minutes, per day.[11]

There is truly no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Most mindfulness meditations are done seated with an object of focus related to the breath, body, thoughts, emotions, or sounds. However, daily activities such as walking or eating can be practiced as a form of mindfulness meditation, as long as the aforementioned elements are in place.

Four Mindfulness Meditations and Their Benefits

Not all forms of mindfulness are created equal. Each practice has unique goals, structure, and benefits. The following four mindfulness meditations are linked with improved mental wellness related to vitality, happiness, and attention.

The results come from a study designed to explore the benefits of these four practices. All of these stem from traditional Buddhist practices.[12]

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1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness is a form of meditation that focuses on sending love and compassion to others. It may begin with kindness for the self and extend outward towards close family and friends, communities, nations, and the world. Loving-kindness may even involve sending love and compassion towards enemies.

The study found that eight-weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of closeness to others. However, it did not reduce negative feelings towards enemies. Additionally, one week of loving-kindness mixed with compassion training increased the amount of positive feelings participants experienced.[13]

2. Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is a practice where the focus remains on the breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, the attention is brought back to the breath.

In many different mindfulness and yoga practices, specific breathing (pranayama) practices are taught. However, for beginners, simple diaphragmatic breathing that focuses on each inhale and exhale is sufficient.

The effects of breathing meditation relate to attention. Breathing meditation is linked to changes in the way information is processed. Buddhist monks who practiced breathing meditation were able to process a greater amount of information than monks who practiced compassion meditation.

3. Body Scan Meditation

A body scan is as simple as it sounds. Attention is brought to each part of the body. Participants can choose to start from the top of the head or the bottom of the feet. It can be helpful to imagine a warmth or a color spreading from one body part to the next as each part begins to relax.

When body scan and breathing are combined, there are many benefits. Interoceptive sensitivity is the mind’s ability to focus on bodily cues. It is strengthened by body scanning. Body scanning also helps with attention and focus.[14]

4. Observing Thoughts Meditation

In observing thoughts meditation, the focus is on the thoughts. This is an opportunity to practice non-judgmental observation. It is also a practice of non-attachment.

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Within the study, participants practiced structured observation of thoughts. First, they brought their attention to their thoughts and labeled them within several categories: past, present, future, self, or others. Then, they practiced observing their thoughts without an emotional reaction.[15]

The benefits of this practice were robust. First, participants showed great improvement in the ability to observe their thoughts without judgment. Second, the practice greatly reduced rumination. As a result, participants had fewer emotional reactions to their thoughts and developed greater self-awareness around their thinking patterns.

In summary, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The choice may be determined by the benefits each practice offers. For example, body scanning can increase bodily awareness. Thought-observation can increase self-awareness and decrease rumination. Regardless, every practice may increase positivity, energy, and focus.[16]

Considerations Before You Begin Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is still a relatively new concept in clinical research. Critics worry that its benefits have been overstated. There is also concern that the Western world has changed it into something most Buddhists would not recognize.[17]

Mindfulness is a state of mind that builds self-awareness. As a result, it may force individuals to face difficult emotions, memories, and thoughts. In a study of long-term, intense mindfulness practices, 60% of participants reported at least one negative outcome. Some cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[18]

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Mindfulness offering promising results but there are also risks involved. Working with a therapist may be a great way to start a mindfulness practice while monitoring for risk.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness is a powerful practice that has deep roots in Buddhism. It is a practice of present-moment awareness, acceptance of the present moment, and non-judgment of thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.

It has many benefits that may increase mental wellness. However, there are also some risks to consider. Overall, you should consider your unique profile before beginning a practice or consider working with a therapist at the start.

More About Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[2] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[3] Greater Good Magazine: What is Mindfulness?
[4] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[5] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[6] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[7] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology
[8] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[9] The Harvard Gazette: When Science Meets Mindfulness
[10] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[11] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[12] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[13] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[14] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[15] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[16] Greater Good Magazine: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
[17] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?
[18] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?

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