If you’re like me your life is busy, full of to do lists, and pretty non-stop. Most of what you do every day, day in day out isn’t even for you – it’s for your kids, or your parents or you partner. Have you ever stopped and looked at your life to see what you do for yourself and the wellbeing of your physical and mental health? You’ll probably not be shocked to find that apart from eat, wash and possibly exercise you don’t do anything for yourself. Humans are more than a body, we are a soul and a mind as well. All three aspects need to be nurtured and taken care of. In this fast paced, wealth driven society we often forget about the soul and the mind. This is where meditation comes in – meditation can help you step aside for a small period of time, step away from your busy schedule and just be. Just be yourself, quietly and kindly.
I wrote this article to help you locate the resources that will enable you to discover why meditation is good for us, how to build a meditation habit, which types of meditation are out there and how to start out on your meditation journey. There’s no “One size fits all”.
This article is aimed at the complete beginner to meditation. Are you ready to begin?
You can download a pdf version of this Guide to Meditation at the end of the article.
I hear you saying “How am I going to fit this in?”, or “How am I going to keep this practise up?” With any new activity you just need to build up a habit, this will take time and dedication but will be well worth it. I find that things I want to do for myself – like running (couch to 5K) or exercising or meditation, always fall off the bottom of my to do list, there is always something more “important” that needs doing. I fall foul to this way of thinking time and time again. What I have decided to do, not try to do, but to actually do is to make the thing I want to do as important as say “brushing my teeth” because it is important. For example, I wouldn’t not brush my teeth over taking the dog for a walk. With this thinking I believe that I can include the things that I need to do to nurture my physical and mental health as easily as I include brushing my teeth. I’m on a journey with this, and I will stumble, but I keep hold of this thought and slowly but surely I am putting the things important to my health in the important section of my “to do list” and not letting them drop off the bottom.
When I decided to write this article I began by looking at relaxing music that would be soothing to work to. This is what I am listening to as I write:
It is part of a beautiful list of pieces of music that I have found wonderful to relax to and will therefore be gentle and calming whilst meditating.
Some people scoff at meditation and ask why? Why is it good for me? How will I benefit? I thought the same things when I began exploring meditation and its benefits and the following are sites and articles I came across that gave me those answers. As you will see different authors detail differing benefits you may receive:
1. Live and Dare
Giovanni Dienstmann the creator and author of Live and Dare has been seeking personal growth for over 17 years. His website aims to explain centuries old teachings in a 21st century manner whilst also incorporating science and psychology.
I love his article Four Meditation Superpowers – Why meditation matters and the first quote in the article is perfect.
“You have a mind, but you are not the boss of your mind. Often, your mind is the boss of you.”
The article delves into the 4 skills he believes meditation can give you. He calls them “superpowers” and that sounds like one awesome set of skills to develop.
2. The Chopra Centre
This centre was found in 1996 by Deepak Chopra MD and David Simon MD, it is the one stop resource for all things body, mind and spirit. There are numerous articles and videos to help you find your way in the world of meditation, Ayurveda and yoga.
The article Meditation: The What, Why and How? will answer many of the questions you have about meditation.
3. The Art of Living
This non-profit organization was founded in 1981 by Sri Si Ravi Shankur and aims to offer tools for self development to facilitate the reduction of stress and increase inner peace and happiness.
The benefits of meditation you never knew details the mental as well as physical benefits you can enjoy from developing a consistent meditation habit.
An excellent UK based website, especially helpful for beginners. The Mission at Headspace is to improve the health and happiness of the world.
Read their The Benefits of meditation article for a snappy list of benefits from regular meditation practise. You can also try their App which can be downloaded on both the App Store and Google Play (Free 10 day trial available).
5. Focus On Health & Wellbeing
Martin Faulks shared an article The Health Benefits of Meditation explaining the benefits he believes consistently appear with regular meditation practise.
2. Live and Dare
Giovanni gives an overview of 23 seated meditation techniques in his article Types of Meditation – An Overview of 23 Meditation Techniques . There is an “is it for me?” section after each description which might help guide towards a particular technique.
“The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime.” – Sogyal Rinpoche
The Five Types of Meditation Technique explains what they believe to be the 5 types of meditation. The many different mediation techniques fall into these 5 types.
What are the Different Types of Meditation by Mindworks delves into 6 different meditation techniques. You can also try out their Free Meditation App.
When looking into how to develop a meditation habit I have found that different authors offer advice using slightly different methods and steps. I have selected a number of articles that represent these different perspectives from in depth to relatively simple.
1. Live and Dare
Giovanni has written quite an in depth article about how a beginner can go about setting firm foundations for starting and maintaining a meditation habit in Meditation for Beginners. The techniques described would most likely be very useful in creating habits for other things you wish to start as well.
2. The Chopra Centre
8 Steps to Establish a Daily Meditation Practice covers 8 simple steps you can take to start and maintain your meditation habit.
3. About Meditation
Although the article was written in 2015 what it contains within is still relevant 5 simple steps to create a meditation habit that sticks. The steps are similar but more simplistic to those offered by Live and Dare.
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.” Ani Pema Chodron
How to meditate every day explains simply how to develop a “habit loop” that you can use to start and maintain your meditation practise.
5. Do You Yoga
The Beginners Guide to Creating a Meditation Habit that Lasts once again talks about the “habit loop” and how to hack into it to make it work for you and your meditation practise.
Hopefully you now understand how good for you meditation can be, you’ve found one or more types of meditation that you think you’d like to try out, and you’ve got a good idea of how you’re going to make your meditation habit stick. Now let’s look at how you can start meditating.
1. The Art of Living
8 tips to get started with meditation offers simple yet effective steps to get you started.
To avoid overcomplicating the meditation process read How to start meditating: Meditation techniques for Beginners another article that describes a simple process to get you started.
“Body on your seat, mind in your body, mind in relaxation.” – Patrul Rinpoche
3. Zen Habits
A slightly more indepth look at tips for beginners Meditation for Beginners: 20 practical Tips for Understanding the Mind
4. The Concious Life
A comprehensive guide for beginners the How to Meditate for Beginners offers basic instructions to get started followed by some tips and answers to commonly asked questions.
Next time I will look at the Meditaton Apps, podcasts and videos that are out there….