When I first “tried” meditating for the first time, I remember sitting there with my eyes closed and wondering what exactly was the point. I was quiet. I was focused on my breathing. Now what. I lasted all of a couple of minutes, and I was done. There was no way I, who was constantly on the go, could ever get a “handle” on this meditation thing. All you do is sit there. What a waste, I thought to myself. So my first attempt was my last attempt for quite a while, but it seemed every book I read talked about the excellent benefits of meditation. Everywhere I turned, the Universe seemed to be pointing me back to meditation.
Funny how that works. If you are meant to be doing something, you will continue to get the “message” until you take action.
Over time it became increasingly clear that this “mediation thing” had validity and should become a part of my daily routine. So in traditional Andie style, I dove deep, studying everything I could get my hands on, and learned all I could about meditation. I began by meditating for just five minutes a day. At first, that was about all this busy body could handle. But over time, I started looking forward to my morning meditation and found that I would quickly lose track of time and find that what seemed like just a couple of minutes was 30-45 minutes. I have had some of the most extraordinary insights and answers come as I meditated.
Now all these years later, I cherish my daily meditation practice. Now my hope for you is that as I share the basics, you too will begin to fall in love with mediation and find a way to sneak into your daily habits. I hope it brings to you the peace and joy it has brought to me. Especially in today’s chaotic world, taking a few minutes of peaceful contemplation away from the chaos is what we all need to thrive!
Let’s start by reviewing the fantastic health benefits of adding the practice of meditation to your daily routine.
- Reduced stress: Those who practice meditation may see a decrease in stress levels. It also can improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
- Improved memory: Better focus through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
- Increased attention: Meditation helps with attention span. I have seen the benefits of this first hand in my everyday life!
- Enhanced willpower: A regular meditation practice develops the mental discipline needed to avoid bad habits.
- Better sleep: Meditation can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and improve sleep quality.
- Less pain: Meditation can reduce pain and boost emotion regulation. Together with medical care, this may help treat chronic pain.
- Lower blood pressure: Blood pressure decreases during meditation and over time in people who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and blood vessels can help prevent heart disease. You are helping to support your overall nervous system.
- Less anxiety: Those who incorporate meditation on a regular basis saw a reduction of anxiety and related mental health issues like social anxiety, fears, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
- Less depression: Meditation can help reduce the occurrence of depression.
- Greater compassion: Meditation can help you better understand yourself, find your best inner self, and increase positive feelings and feelings of compassion toward others.
Alll the above are wins in my book! And now that you know what’s in it for you! Let’s move on…
Now that we know from a scientific standpoint how much meditation can help with our overall well-being and physical health, let’s go over some basic meditation instructions:
- Start by finding a comfortable, quiet place where you can relax. Any place where you will not be disturbed by family members would make a great place.
- Get comfortable. You can lie down, sit cross-legged on the floor, or sit on a cozy couch. My favorite meditation spot is on my couch with a cozy blanket on top of me.
- Close your eyes and takes some deep breaths, relaxing into your body and your sit bones. As you relax, let go of your to do lists, all your worries, and concerns from the day. Focus on the air moving in and out of your body. If a thought comes in or your mind wanders, take a deep breath, and come back to focusing on your breath. Don’t worry about how many minutes of meditation you’re getting in. Simply focus on the present moment.
- Remember that there is no wrong way to meditate, and there are many different ways to meditate. If you are worried about the time, you can set an alarm clock on your phone to alert you when you have been meditating for a given amount of time.
- As you relax deeper into meditation, some ideas and insights may come up during your meditation session. I always love to have a journal or notebook nearby to immediately write down things that may have come up for me. It is so important to pay close attention to the thoughts and feelings that arise while meditating.
- When you feel ready to come out of your meditation, slowly start to move your toes and work the energy up your body slowing bringing yourself back to the present.
Best Meditation Apps For Beginners
When I was first beginning, I found the easiest way to learn how to meditate was to use meditation apps with guided meditations to help me focus my mind and learn this new skill. I have used several apps over the years, but here is a list of my absolute favorites: All of the apps mentioned have FREE meditaions, but to access any extended offerings, you’ll need to pay.
- Calm – they have a great free version, but the upgraded version is loaded with guided meditation featuring several different types of meditation; body scan meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, and offers helpful mindfulness techniques to help you along on your meditation journey.>> I pay for a subscription to Calm as it is my favorite meditation app. My youngest loves their sleep stories before bed.
- Insight Timer – This is another great app with plenty of value in the free version (Over 45,0000 meditations). Within the app, meditation teachers and coaches offer different forms of meditation for free, but you can donate if you wish.
- YouTube: So this is not an “app” per se, but there are thousands of free meditations and meditation tips and meditation techniques as you search its amazing library!
- Ten Percent Happier Meditation: This is an excellent choice for meditation beginners
- Headspace: Meditation & Sleep: This app has fantastic meditations for getting better sleep at night.
- Buddhify: HasThe Buddhist tradition has a vast library of guided meditation and helps guide you to a deeper practice.
- Unplug: This is a great option if you would like to create better focus during your meditation experience.
- Simple Habit: If you want quick five-minute meditations, this is a great choice.
No matter where you start, the most important thing you can do is to start! Don’t let all these fancy meditation gurus make it seem way more advanced and trickier than it needs to be. The most important thing is that you create a regular practice of mediation. Keep it Simple! Here are five easy meditations you can do anywhere! (Just click the hyberlink and it will take you to a blog post that will walk you through them.)
Another question I get asked a lot as a Christian is; what the difference between prayer and meditation is? Often those who have grown up in very secular religions are a bit wary of meditation. So let me clear this up as simply as I can. Prayer is when you speak to God, and meditation is when you get quiet and listen. That is the magic of meditation at its core. You block the world out, and shut your monkey mind up. You shut it all down, and sit in stillness, and when you are in that quiet, still space within you, God speaks, and your Higher Self speaks and that my friend is my why meditation will always be a part of my daily routine.