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Published on April 6, 2020

Learn to Meditate in 7 Steps (The Beginner’s Guide)

Learn to Meditate in 7 Steps (The Beginner’s Guide)

If you have never meditated before, no worries. This practice is very much a personal experience. You make of it what works for you, your health, and your intention.

These days, we see meditation being prescribed as the remedy to stress, anxiety, depression, or any other health-related concerns. We see this practice spread out from yoga studios into offices, corporations, as well as military and police enforcement divisions.

It has become a practice modality serving people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels, which puts you in the perfect position as a beginner.

This guide will provide you with some basic steps to starting your meditation practice. But before you learn to meditate, you should first know what meditation is.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice in mindfulness. It teaches you how to sit with the thoughts that run through your mind, or with the feelings or body sensations that you may feel while seated. Meditation allows these experiences to exist without reacting to them.

Meditation is not about stopping the flow of our thinking mind, which is impossible. Rather, it is about acknowledging that we are thinking, feeling human beings who have the choice and power of how we react to those thoughts and feelings. We do this through meditation.

Meditation is all about stillness. The world bombards us with information every day. Meditation comes in as the practice to pull us away from these external noises, so that we may give ourselves a mental break. This break allows us to freshen our perspective by training our mind in awareness.[1]

Meditation has been also shown to reduce stress, control anxiety, help with memory loss and information retention, as well as improve our sleep, relationships, and general attitude toward life.[2]

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1. Set Up Your Space

Before you can learn to meditate, you will want to create a space for yourself first. Humans are natural nesters; we crave comfort and space in which we can feel at home.

Our meditation space is not any different; it serves as a home for your spiritual practice. This space can be anywhere in your home, office, or somewhere where you feel at ease, or spend a lot of your time. You do not have to make this space super fancy or spend a lot of money decorating it. Just choose a corner of peace where you know you will not be disturbed.

2. Find Your Seat

This is probably the most important step in your practice. Finding the right seat for your meditation is paramount.

Why?

Because if you are physically uncomfortable while you are seated, you are going to hate meditating. Your body is going to be in pain, and you are not going to be able to focus on anything or find any relaxation.

With that in mind, here are a few pointers to get you started with finding the right seat:

  • If you want to sit on the floor, on cushions or a yoga mat, sit cross-legged or with one ankle in front of the other. If you notice that your knees are higher than your hips, you will want to elevate yourself on something higher, like a bolster or some extra cushions.
  • This is important because once your knees are higher than the hips, your back eventually begins to round as you sit. This rounding is pretty uncomfortable, as you try to sit up tall and maintain a tall spine through your meditation. So, lift yourself higher so that your knees can descend, allowing your spine to remain erect without much effort on your part.
  • If you want to sit in a chair, feel free to do so. There is no rule in meditation against sitting on a chair or the floor. Again, comfort is key. Just make sure that your feet touch down to the floor so that they are not hanging while you sit.
  • Lastly, if you do want to sit on the floor but feel the need for some extra support, sit up against a wall. This way, your back will still be supported.

3. Find Your Breath

Once you are comfortable and seated, rest your hands anywhere you would like (in your lap or on your knees) and close your eyes.

The first step for you to learn to meditate is to find your breath. As you sit, tune into the following breath exercise:

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  1. Take a full breath into the nose, filling the belly and the lungs
  2. Take a full breath out through the nose, exhaling fully the belly and the lungs
  3. Repeat this while you’re normally breathing in and out, and as you do so, begin to relax the physical body
  4. Relax the shoulder blades, the arms, the hands, the legs, and the feet
  5. Let the belly be soft as you breathe: you don’t need to pull it in or “contract the core” in any way
  6. Notice if you can slightly drop the chin so that the back of the neck is longer; this will prevent your neck and head from hurting, as you maintain this long spine hold
  7. Lastly, relax the muscles of your face: your jaw, your eyes, and your brow

As the body begins to relax, maintain your breath. Now, add on some visualization to help with the mind. Visualize the breath coming in through the nose, into the throat, down into the lungs and belly, and then visualize it coming right back out the same way.

Give it a color (maybe white or silver), if that helps. Just visualize it coming into your body, and leaving your body. Then, begin to sense how the breath feels: is it cool as it comes into your nose? How does it feel when it enters the lungs? And then is it warm as it exists through the nose? Is it full or shallow?

How does your body react to the breath: is it soothing or jittery? Can you fully inhale and exhale, or does the breath get caught up somewhere?

None of the answers are right or wrong. They are simply how you are going to build awareness of your body and breath.

4. Distract the Mind

The biggest challenge in meditation is keeping the mind busy while the body is relaxed.

Think of your mind like a toddler: it gets distracted by shiny objects and random things. It is your job as the practitioner to metaphorically take that toddler by the hand, and guide it back to your center. In this case, that center is your breath. It is your anchor.

Do not get discouraged if you trail off. It is a normal part of the process. It is said that we have anywhere between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day.[3]

We cannot just turn those off. So, if you do get distracted, notice that you have drifted away, and then come back to that breath. After all, this coming and going of awareness is truly what meditation is all about.

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Another way to distract the mind is to give it something tangible to do. In meditation, one of the easiest tools to do this is by counting.

As you breathe in, give yourself a count of 4. As you breathe out, give yourself another count of 4. Once this time becomes too short, bump it up to 6, 8, or 10.

Essentially, you are breathing to a count of whatever you choose and then exhaling for that same count. Once you reach a full count, you start all over again.

This simple exercise gives your mind a logical task. Yes, you will probably still get random thoughts that will grab your attention, but as mentioned, this is part of the process. Notice when you get distracted, and come back to your breath and your counting.

5. Option to Utilize Affirmations

For some people, counting is too dry. Similarly, you may be having the type of day where you just need some motivation and inspiration. In these cases, affirmations are a great tool in your meditation practice.

Affirmations are words or phrases that you repeat to yourself while you meditate. They serve as anchors, just as breath and counting do. When you get mentally distracted, you can come back to your affirmation. You can speak your affirmation out loud or to yourself, depending on where you are practicing.

Some examples of affirmations are:

  • I breathe in fully; I breathe out fully.
  • I am enough.
  • I am love and I am loved.
  • I am whole.

You can also make use of Sanskrit affirmations or mantras. These are said to carry a higher vibrational frequency because they are stated in the sacred Sanskrit language.[4].

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Some examples are:

  • So Ham – which translates to “I am.” This is often practiced with inhaling as you state So, and exhaling as you state Ham.
  • Sat Nam – which translates to “True Identity.” It is a seed mantra that activates the 7 main chakra systems in the body.
  • Om – which is the universal sound and one most people are familiar with in yoga classes. It is usually practiced by drawing out the O and closing the lips on the M to create a buzzing vibration in the mouth and body.

6. Option to Utilize Guided Meditations

You may feel like you need someone to guide you through meditation if it becomes difficult to do it on your own. There are thankfully a plethora of online videos via Youtube and meditation apps on your phone that are widely accessible. Some are free, while some have a subscription option.

Some examples are:

There are different meditation styles that you can choose from on these websites and apps. Feel free to follow them and find what works for you.

7. Keep It Simple

Meditation is not always going to be easy. Some days, you are going to be busy, tired, apathetic, or unavailable, and that is okay.

Meditation is a practice that will always be there. As humans, we are constantly striving to perfect some routine or regimen. While it is good to remain disciplined with your meditation, do not let it become a chore or a task to cross off your to-do list. Allow it to simply be a reprieve for you; a kind of mental vacation for sacred self-reflection.

This is truly where this practice thrives and gives back tenfold.

Final Thoughts

If you want yo learn to meditate, these 7 tips will help you chart out a plan to begin. They are simple and perfect for beginners, making this meditation practice ever so accessible to everyone.

Meditation is beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety, but it is most beneficial in building your inner awareness. With this, you will be able to notice your inner and outer worlds without a knee-jerk reaction but with more compassion, pause, and reflection.

Learn to Meditate Further By Reading These Articles:

Featured photo credit: Amelia Bartlett via unsplash.com

Reference

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Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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