Beginner's Guide to Meditation
Meditation is becoming more and more common recently to the point where even big corporations are encouraging their employees to take the time to do it. Meditation is probably my favorite wellness practice, and I know a lot of y'all have been curious about getting started, but feel like you won't be able to do it.
I put together this beginner's guide to meditation for those of you who are very new to it.
Meditation has many health benefits that it might be the most effective free way to improve your life.
- Boosted immune health
- Decreases stress and anxiety
- Increases ability to focus
- Decreases inflammation
- Increases your member
First, I want to share with y'all a little bit about why I started meditating. In case you're still on the fence on whether or not you should try it, this may help.
I've always been an anxious person, but it started to really consume me a few years after graduating from college in the real world. Between feeling disconnected from a job that I thought was my dream job and my life long path and my friends starting new chapters in their lives by getting married, life felt pretty freaking confusing.
I first experienced a form of meditation on accident when I was visiting my cousin in Nashville and I went to her yoga studio that happened to be doing a Yoga Nidra class that day. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation where you're in this half awake half asleep phase for total relaxation. 20-30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to about 3-4 hours of good sleep. How crazy is that?!
After this I occasionally dabbled in finding random YouTube videos with guided meditations, but it was far from a daily practice.
It wasn't until I moved to LA and saw Unplugged on my ClassPass list, that I really discovered how powerful it can be.
Unplugged makes meditating feel so accessible and not intimidating. I mean, the heading on their website is "If you can breathe you can meditate."
It's there that I learned that you can't be bad at meditating. There's no right or wrong way to do it and that even meditation teachers experience their thoughts running through their head sometimes.
I started frequenting Unplugged more and more because the community aspect seemed to make it so much more enjoyable than just doing it at home. Eventually, that led me to take one of their most popular classes that sell out every time which was a crystal healing class. But that's definitely a whole different post.
Once meditation didn't feel like it was so timeconsuming and that I wasn't doing it wrong, I started to work it into my day to day ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes in my bedroom either in the morning or at night.
Today I try to make it a daily practice to at least get 5 minutes in on those busy days and I've learned that consistency gets me the best results. I can feel a shift when I've meditated for 2 weeks straight compared to doing it sporadically (Clueless word of the day anyone?). I've also worked in rituals into my meditation like Palo Santo and Crystals, but today is all about getting started so I'm going to leave that part out.
Beginner's Guide to Meditation
"If you can breathe, you can meditate"
Whether your mind is always racing (right there with you) or you've never been able to sit still, I promise you can still mediate. Even if you feel like yoga is too slow paced for you, it's do-able with practice.
If you can relate to this, start with 2-minute meditations and work your way up to 5, 7, and then 10. Just quieting your mind for 2 minutes will start training your concentration muscles. Here's a 2 minute guided meditation. I mean, who doesn't have 2 minutes?!
Another option that you might want to try out is active meditation. I like to close my eyes and do cat/cow yoga positions at the speed of my breath for 2-3 minutes. Kundalini yoga is great if you want to be in movement while getting centered and grounded.
Having thoughts run through your head doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.
Have you tried meditating in the past, but realized you constantly had thoughts moving through your head so you assumed you're doing it wrong or can't do it?
Having thoughts pop up throughout your meditation is totally normal. The key is though to respond to them in a positive way.
Sometimes when I feel my thoughts running through, I take a moment to acknowledge them and then tell myself "I let this go" and exhale. Sometimes it takes a few tries but it helps.
Another thing I do is I picture the thoughts like bubbles and that as they come up I'm popping them and move on. The key is to make sure you are breathing in and out slowly during this.
Use an app to help you out
It took me a very long time to be able to do meditations to just music without any guidance. Sometimes it's still hard and for those days I use the http://hdsp.co/CTGd/n7Ht6fUgzBHeadspace app. The meditations in headspace are under 10 minutes and they guide you the whole way through. The first 10 are great for beginners because you're not even required to have your eyes close the whole time.
I use the headspace app to remind me every day at 10 pm to get my meditation in if I haven't already done so. You can try the app for free here.
Posture is important
When I first started meditating I'd kind of do it anywhere. I'd be slouched in my chair or lying down like I was about to fall asleep. Turns out posture does matter. If you're sitting, make sure you have a straight spine with your shoulders rolled back. If you're lying down, just don't get so comfortable that you'll fall asleep.
Focusing on your posture can help you stay concentrated throughout the meditation.
Depending on the meditation, you'll be guided to either breathe in and out your nose or in through your nose and out your mouth. Either way, make sure the breath is even. If you're having a hard time focusing, pay attention to your breath. As you pay attention to the breath, say to yourself "in, out, in, out" etc.
Like I mentioned earlier, meditating with a community is kind of what sealed the deal for me. It made me not feel as weird for meditating first of all because everyone at Unplugged was were just normal people looking to better themselves. It was all ages and male and female and there was something comforting in this.
If you can't get to a studio like Unplugged in your city, there are free online meditation communities. My teacher at Unplugged does a free weekly community meditation on Facebook live. I highly recommend it. Here's the info how you can join. I also recently shared it on my FB page too.
I'm thinking about making a whole meditation series, so let me know what you think. Let me know what questions you have about meditation so I can get them answered!
Also, if you'd be interested in me creating a 2, 5, or 7 minute guided meditation for y'all let me know! It would be a fun thing to add to this post!