In this, part of an ongoing series of articles, we’ll discuss meditation for beginners, including how to meditate and the benefits of meditation.
It’s true of pretty much anything that the more you do it, the better you get at it. Meditation is no exception. But, unlike a lot of things, the benefits of meditation can be apparent from the very first time you try it.
We’ve emphasised in earlier articles that styles of meditation can be as varied as practitioners of meditation are, and that the “right” way to meditate is the way that works best for you. But we’ll review some basics here on how to meditate in the hope that you will find them useful if you want to start a practice but are unsure how to do so.
Perhaps the most important thing when you’re considering how to meditate is to try to find a space that you can dedicate to your practice. This isn’t always possible, but it’s worth the effort to try to identify a place that is quiet and calm, and in which you feel comfortable. The benefits of meditation start with this—with securing your own spot in which you’ll be inclined to feel safe and relaxed. The space doesn’t have to be large or luxurious. It should be fairly neat, without too many things to distract your senses.
After finding a space, you’ll want to determine how you can begin to sit most comfortably. It’s important to note that meditation actually isn’t about comfort—you don’t want to become so relaxed that you simply take a nap! (Although we’re big fans of naps, too, just to be clear—we’ve talked before about the benefits of meditation for sleep enhancement.) But meditation for beginners is about establishing a habit of practice, and most of us need to avoid too much discomfort if we’re going to stick with it in the early stages. For some people, that means using a meditation cushion, or a meditation bench such as we sell here at Spoko. These tools can help relieve pressure on the spine and sit bones, and make it easier to focus. As you get into your practice more deeply, sitting will be easier, no matter what tools you are or are not using.
Once you have located a space for meditation and have found a comfortable way in which to sit, your next goal is to set a modest goal for the length of time you will meditate. Some people who are very unused to stillness may want to start with just five minutes. Five, fifteen, thirty—start out with any amount of time that seems viable to you. Remember, you can meditate longer than you’d planned if you wish! The idea is simply to set a goal, and try to reach that goal consistently.
Some people enjoy meditating to music. This, again, is a personal preference, and if you wish to do this, YouTube has a wide selection of meditation music from which you may wish to pick something to accompany your practice. Some teachers, however, recommend that beginners who are just learning how to meditate focus on practicing in silence at first.
We live in a chattering world, and the idea of sitting in stillness and quiet, away from distraction, can actually be overwhelming at first to many people. But this, too, is one of the benefits of meditation—it helps us turn away from the world and centre ourselves in stillness in a way that can be enormously helpful when we need to go out into the noise again.
Finally, focus on a spot within your eyeline—maybe a little bump in the paint on the wall opposite you. Allow your gaze to focus softly on that one spot. This is a small, but key, anchor when you’re learning how to meditate. Try to observe the spot without making any decisions or judgements about it (“Oh, I really must repaint that wall!”).
Breathe deeply. Focus on that spot. Try to be still. Pay attention to your breath.
You’ve started on the road to your meditation practice.