What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about meditation? It might be a person sitting on the floor in a lotus position, listening to whale songs or meditation music, chanting “OM”.
You might think of a Buddhist monk sitting in an uncomfortable position, countless hours and developing supernatural powers.
Are these stereotypes justified? Yes and no.
In recent years, esotericism has gained more and more attention. Gurus, healers, and shamans became more and more visible to the general public. Some “sell” meditation as a religious practice, which manifests all kinds of meditation clichés even further.
In fact, meditation does not necessarily have to do with spirituality, faith, esotericism or the 7 chakras. It can be used to increase your productivity, relaxation, help you fall asleep or to reduce stress. It’s how you see it and we at Mindmonia practice meditation ourselves without any esoteric and we still greatly benefit from it.
Hence we prepared this complete 101 meditation guide for you. It took us over two months of dedicated work but now can promise you a guide, that’s almost more an e-book, that will give you a great overview and understanding of this topic. This article will enable you to experience meditation to its fullest.
In this guide, we’ll cover the types of meditation and benefits, provide you with basic meditation instructions, tips and tricks, and exercises, a FAQ, well, basically everything you need to know about meditation.
Jump ahead to any of the sections below:
- What Is Meditation?
- Benefits of Meditation
- Myths and Stereotypes
- Types of Meditation
- Meditation Learning: How to Meditate Properly?
- Science & Meditation: Meditation for Skeptics
- Meditation Guidelines for Beginners
- How to Get into Meditation Easily: 3 Exercises
- Meditation Tips: 14 Tips for More Success
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that is becoming more and more popular worldwide. Madonna, Hugh Jackman, Katy Perry, and Clint Eastwood are just a few examples of celebrities who meditate on a regular basis.
However, meditation was used way before Hollywood. Archaeologists discovered drawings around 3000 – 5500 B.C. showing a meditating man.
So what is this mystical thing that accompanied mankind for thousands of years? It is actually not easy to describe what meditation is in words because in order to truly understand it you must experience meditation and feel it with your own body.
To still make it more tangible, we figured the best way to do so is as follows. After reading dozens of definitions, we saw that all definitions had certain parts in common. These are:
- Awareness for your own thoughts
- Relaxation of the mind
- One central point of attention
- Emptying and purifying the mind
In summary, meditation can be defined as follows:
“Meditation is a relaxation practice that helps you to direct your full attention, unbiased, to the present moment”.
Meditation is not about becoming another, new, or better person. It is about sharpening one’s awareness and developing a solid perception and awareness of one’s environment.
Benefits of Meditation
There are an incredible number of studies (more on this later) that prove that meditation has a positive effect on your mental and physical well health.
The benefits of meditation can be divided into three categories:
- Mental advantages
- Physical advantages
- Spiritual advantages
Your mind benefits from meditation in multiple ways. Meditation develops certain areas of the brain, such as memory, compassion, and empathy. Other parts of the brain associated with anxiety and stress begin to shrink.
Here are the most important benefits for your mind:
A study carried out by Emory University, Atlanta, showed that participants with experiences in meditation showed an increased activity within the brain networks responsible for attention. This increase in attention boosts other cognitive functions, such as neglecting distractions. Consequently, meditation not only improves the attention span but also strengthens the resistance against distractions.
Meditation calms your thoughts and empowers a clear mind. The thought processes are more structured, logical and above all, relaxed. Sounds like symptoms of brain fog to you? Yes, meditation definitely helps with that, too.
Mental and physical stress causes an increased level of the stress hormone called cortisol. Permanent stress results in many of the harmful effects of stress, such as sleep disorders, depression, high blood pressure or fatigue.
Meditation helps you to combat stress by structuring thoughts and make big problems seen less big. Another great point for meditation is, that you don’t need to practice it regularly (even though that is recommended). You will already feel a difference after your first meditation session.
Learn more in our detailed article about stress reduction.
A group of Harvard neuroscientists conducted an experiment in which 16 people underwent an eight-week meditation course. At the end of the experiment, MRI scans showed that the concentration of grey matters had increased in the areas of the brain responsible for learning. More grey matters result in easier learning.
Improved Decision Making
Research found that people who meditate over an extended period of time can process information more quickly.
Further Mental Benefits
Besides the named (mental) advantages, meditation has a positive effect on:
- Clarity of thought
- Cognitive functions
- Focus and concentration
- Emotional well-being
- Resistance to setbacks
Regardless of your attitude towards spiritual or metaphysical matters, if you learn to meditate properly, meditation has a positive effect on the body and your physical health.
Here are the main benefits for your body:
Strengthened Immune System
First, you need to understand that your immune system reacts to both negative and positive thoughts. Meditating impacts your mood and therefore creates a positive environment for your immune system.
Meditation also decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Since stress has a direct impact on your immune system, a reduced stress level supports your immune system.
A study by the University of California showed a decline of CD-4 cells of HIV patients through regular meditation. CD-4 cells are the immune cells that prevent the HIV virus from spreading.
Meditation has a positive effect on the skin. Not only does it delay the aging process, but it also prevents inflammation, wrinkles and helps with skin diseases such as acne, psoriasis, and neurodermatitis.
There are innumerable studies that prove that meditation helps you sleep and provides lasting and better sleep. Especially lying meditation has a more immediate impact on this advantage.
If you have problems falling asleep, you should try meditation. Unlike ASMR, meditation works for almost everyone.
Meditation helps your body deal with cramps, abdominal pain, and gases.
This is because digestion is one of the biological processes of the body that is most affected by stress and restlessness. When you are stressed, your body prioritizes stress reduction over digestion.
This can have devastating effects on your stomach, causing inflammation, heartburn and even food allergies. If you meditate often, you will reduce your stress level and consequently your stomach problems.
Serotonin is a versatile hormone that is proven to be released during regular meditation. In the human organism, it affects many different aspects such as the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system.
Serotonin has its biggest impact on your mood. This is why it’s known as the happiness hormone. The effect of meditation? An increased level of serotonin will make you happier.
Further Physical Benefits
Besides the already mentioned (physical) advantages, meditation also has a positive effect on:
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Oxygen concentration in your body
If you are interested in the spiritual benefits of meditation, here are the most important ones:
- A sense of spiritual connection
- Greater knowledge about your life
- Increased sense of synchronicity with the world
We kept this part deliberately small because we believe that not everyone who would like to learn how to mediate is necessarily interested in spirituality.
As you have seen in this chapter, meditation has several advantages both for your body and for your mind.
All in all, meditation helps you to develop new habits or to eliminate existing ones. If you want to become calmer, more focused, more grateful and more attentive, you should sit down and meditate today.
Myths and Stereotypes
Every prejudice, stereotype and every myth represents a barricade to the ultimate meditation experience. The bottom line is that prejudices prevent you from meditating properly.
The key to a true meditation session is an unbiased mind.
In order to learn how to meditate correctly, you have to overcome the prejudices first. So let’s clarify some of them right now.
Myth 1: Meditation Is Exhausting
Many people believe that meditation is exhausting, but the rules for a successful session are very simple. After all, what could be simpler than sitting (or lying) motionless in one place without any thoughts?
In the truest sense of the word, it doesn’t require any effort.
Especially at the beginning, it can seem unusual to you to just sit quietly and do nothing. Particularly if you are used to an active lifestyle.
Myth 2: You Must Silence Your Thoughts
Many people believe that stopping your thoughts and silencing your mind is the only way to proper meditation.
However, meditation is not about stopping your thoughts on demand.
This just leads to additional stress that stops you from a great meditation experience.
For the beginning, you can sit there and observe your thoughts consciously. The mere fact that you consciously perceive your thoughts is already a first-time success, which is super important to realize to stay motivated.
You can’t switch off your thoughts, but you can decide how much attention you give them.
Accordingly, you should not try to force turning off your thoughts. Much more important is to understand that you cannot be “thoughtless” at the push of a button.
Simply put, acknowledge your thoughts, but don’t engage them.
It’s important that you understand the difference.
The more often you meditate, the better you will master the ability to pay less attention to your thoughts. As your meditation journey progresses, you will eventually notice that it gets easier for you over time to turn off your thoughts and be present in the here and now.
We are often so absorbed by our thoughts that we forget that our world is much more complex than our current understanding and perception of it.
Here’s an example that gives this statement more clarity:
If you have a drivers license, you have probably experienced a tunnel vision already. This often occurs on the highway when you get a “dull feeling in your head” and your mind switches to autopilot. A few minutes later you get conscious and attentive again. You realized that you have driven unconsciously before.
That’s how it works in everyday life, too. If you meditate frequently, you will realize more often and consciously how often you actually switch to autopilot without realizing and living the moments.
Meditation is the art of focusing on the present moment without allowing yourself to be taken in by your thoughts.
Myth 3: Meditation Is Escape from Reality
Meditation and escapism (escape from reality) are often equated. Some people even believe that meditation is a selfish attempt to avoid responsibility in reality. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
When you meditate, you face reality and confront it, instead of avoiding it, by switching to autopilot. You become aware of what is happening around you and do not escape into your thoughts.
Myth 4: It Takes Years Until You Can Benefit from Meditation
This is simply wrong. The benefits of meditation, as we have described above, include both short-term and long-term improvements.
Long-term improvements such as increased brain capacity or better memory require long-term meditation practices. However, there are other benefits that can be noticed right after your first meditation session, such as better sleep or positive well-being.
Myth 5: Meditation Is Bound to Religion
Are you thinking of a Buddhist monk sitting in the same position, for many hours, in front of an Asian temple? Some believe that the Asian temples are the only places to learn about meditation. Others believe that you have to be a Buddhist or Hindu to feel the true experience of meditation.
This myth is nothing more than a myth. Meditation is completely detached from religion. Your religious beliefs are completely detached from your meditation success.
Meditation does not have to be interpreted spiritually either. Your goal does not have to be to open your “third eye chakra” or to balance your 7 chakras. You can simply meditate because you want to calm your thoughts or reduce stress.
Myth 6: Meditation Is Unproductive
This myth is poison for your daily meditation routine. Believing that meditation is unproductive will subconsciously prevent you from meditating regularly.
When you have a busy schedule, you jump from meeting to meeting and you’re stressed out then you need meditation more than ever.
A simple meditation of 15 to 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening would be more than enough to trigger a strong increase of your cognitive abilities and this with a time expenditure of less than one hour per day.
Meditation will help you to be more productive. After the morning meditation, you will be clear-minded and more organized throughout the day. This will make you more productive as you will make fewer mistakes and save time that you can invest in other tasks.
This effect will furthermore help you make decisions. You will feel more proactive and will be able to make well thought out decisions. These, in turn, save time and money.
That’s why meditation is one of the best ways to increase your productivity.
Types of Meditation
There are unbelievably many meditation types, which all differ in the way you do them and their goals.
Truth be told, there are thousands of ways and possibilities out there to learn how to meditate. Usually even free. Although some kinds of meditation techniques require specific training, most are accessible to everyone.
Across different resources, you will stumble on different names for the same types of meditation. Don’t be too strict about that fact though. Eventually, it’s just important that you acknowledge the different ways to meditate and that you do the meditation properly and that you benefit from the advantages.
In this article, we will only guide you through the most important types of mediation (since this guide is already over 9000 words long).
You will find the general guideline on how to do step-by-step meditation, in this chapter, later on.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to sharpen your awareness and to achieve the state of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a state in which you concentrate on everything that is happening in the present moment without judging it. You notice everything that is happening around you without interpreting, judging, or comparing it.
Basically, it’s about perceiving things without reacting to them.
Mindfulness is an attitude of complete acceptance of the events that are happening in the present moment (including thoughts, feelings and mental images). This approach can be integrated into all aspects of your daily life. For example, you can take a mindful shower, have a mindful walk, or even wash dishes mindfully.
With our free Mindfulness newsletter, you can learn more about how mindfulness and how it will help you to dominate your life. Here is the link to our newsletter.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, pain, and diseases. It’s extremely simple and can be practiced anywhere and by anyone. In some schools, children are taught mindfulness because it is so easy to learn and helps with concentration, attention, memory, and emotional self-control.
This type is the best way to meditate for beginners and a great opportunity to get into the subject of meditation as it is very easy to use and has a lasting effect on the mood right away. You’ll see the first improvements after a single meditation session.
For many, mindfulness meditation is going to be their go-to type. Especially since this technique is aimed at physical and mental benefits and has little spiritual meaning.
Mindfulness meditation can be done with your eyes open or closed.
We originally decided against adding any religious or spiritual types of meditations to this list, but the Vipassana meditation simply belongs in every list of the most important types of meditation.
Vipassana meditation is the oldest form of Buddhist meditation. Its aim is to eventually give the meditator insights into the existence and the essence of life.
After years of practice, meditators begin to understand the nature of reality and existence. However, you will only experience these insights after years of devotion. There are almost no short-term benefits with Vipassana.
Meditators experience improvements in concentration, stress, and attention after only a few months. However, the deep spiritual insights only come after a few years.
Each meditation session should last at least one hour. It’s best to set an alarm clock so that you don’t spend too much worrying about time while meditating.
Vipassana meditation helps physically, mentally and spiritually. Not only will your attention and concentration improve, but also your spiritual connection.
This meditation is ideal for people seeking spiritual enlightenment.
If you are only interested in the physical and mental benefits, try mindfulness meditation for example.
Concentrative meditation, or focused meditation, is a meditation technique where you focus all your attention on one object during the meditation session. This object can be a physical object (chair, table, couch …), your breathing, a part of your body, sounds around you or even something you imagine in your head.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind during this type of meditation is that you always have to bring your thoughts back to the specific object as your thoughts begin to wander. Allow your feelings to develop, without trying to change them. Simply notice them and let them go.
Focus your attention on the object you want to focus on. Many people choose their breath. Don’t try to force the focus on the object and don’t be frustrated when you get distracted or have difficulties getting started. This only creates stress and a coercive feeling. If you feel like you’re too distracted, just concentrate on a new object.
When you select the object for the concentration meditation make sure that the object evokes pleasant emotions without creating too much excitement or boredom.
If you choose an object that is important to you, make sure your memories don’t distract you. Your goal should be to focus on the object itself, not on the things you associate it with.
Pay as little attention as possible to distracting thoughts. The goal of concentrative meditation is to train the mind for continuous concentration. When thoughts or feelings come to your mind, no matter which kind, perceive them and then draw your attention back to your object of observation.
However, you shouldn’t completely ignore these feelings and thoughts. Simply because it’s not possible and causes you to be disappointed, frustrated or irritated, which distracts you even more.
Therefore, notice the disturbing thoughts and then return to the object you want to concentrate on.
It requires plenty of practice to keep your focus balanced. If you concentrate too much on the object and block everything around you, you will feel tense and as a result, your spiritual progress will be slowed down. If you concentrate too little, you will quickly become distracted and the meditation will lose its effect.
Walking meditation is an extraordinary form of meditation and not necessarily a beginners meditation.
This type of meditation aims at practicing mindfulness.
It requires a lot of concentration but is really great for people with active minds and imagination who want to learn how to calm and center their minds.
There is no particular way to do walking meditation. Depending on how you do it, this meditation technique can boost deep focus, concentration, or awareness.
A good meditation procedure for beginners is to concentrate only on your own walking. How to get started? Even though it may sound simple to just walk and focus on your own walking you will realize that it’s actually quite challenging.
To get started, you should find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Especially for other people, walking meditation may look strange. Therefore, you may want to choose a room where you won’t be seen. It might not be the best way to meditate at home, but if your home provides enough space, feel free to do it there.
Before you start meditating, spend a minute or two just standing there, taking a deep breath and devoting your attention to your body.
Ideally, you should meditate for at least 15 minutes.
Your walking pace should be constant and even. If your mind is excited or your ability to concentrate is weak, slow down until you can stay in the present moment with every step.
Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that aims to unite the mind, spirit, and body. You use energy or Qi (pronounced “chi”) to bring harmony between these three. Qigong meditation can be done in two ways: standing, with slow movements or sitting.
There are two types of Qi energy: Yin (still and sitting) and Yang (active movements).
Qigong includes many different movements, some with complex breathing and body postures. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might even hurt yourself. Therefore, in order to achieve the best results, we recommend that you consult a professional teacher or start with the easy poses first.
Qigong meditation is the best type of meditation for anyone who wants to try energetic and physical meditation.
Learn more about Qigong: Here is the link to our detailed guide for beginners.
Chakras are the energy centers of the body that begin at the base of the spine and spread to the top of the head. There are seven main chakras in the body, each corresponding to a specific attribute of our personality.
Chakra meditation aims to balance and harmonize these energy centers. Therefore, it is ideal for all who seek spiritual and physical healing.
This meditation type belongs to the category of imagination meditation, which is why it is suitable for anyone who prefers meditations that are very intensive in visualization.
The best way to perform a chakra meditation is to follow a guided meditation. Step by step guided meditations are ideal for chakra meditations, especially if you have never dealt with the chakra system before. You may have difficulty remembering the colors and functions of each chakra.
Learn all the details about the Chakra Meditation in our complete article.
Guided meditation is largely a modern phenomenon. This form of meditation is probably the easiest way, especially for beginners, to deal with meditation.
As the name suggests, this form of meditation is guided by someone else. Guided meditation is essentially a spoken guide. For example, you can do a chakra meditation or a concentrative meditation as a guided meditation.
A step by step guided meditation is useful in many ways. It particularly works for beginners because it “brings you back” at regular intervals and focuses your attention on the essential, the present moment. However, it’s not only ideal for beginners, but also for advanced practitioners that want to give new techniques a go or have difficulties, controlling their attention.
Mantra meditation is a meditation type that concentrates on mantras. Mantras are words and phrases that can be sacred or any phrase that conveys a sense of peace and harmony.
Mantra meditations are ancient. Originally they were of religious origin and connected with certain deities and religions. Today they focus more on spirituality.
This kind of meditation is easy to do and therefore suitable for everyone. It gives practitioners a feeling of centricity and peace.
To perform a mantra meditation, you must sit comfortably and close your eyes. Then, concentrate on your breath for a few minutes and relax all the muscles in your body.
As soon as you notice that you are in a calm state of mind, repeat your mantra loudly. Say it slowly as you exhale, to feel the vibration of the word better.
Repeat the mantra for 10-15 minutes.
Some popular mantras are “OM”, “YAM” or “RAM”, while the latter are so-called chakra mantras. This type of meditation is wrongly called OM meditation.
Click here for the top Five Mantras for a Better Meditation Experience.
Open Awareness Meditation
Open Awareness Meditation, also called Choiceless Awareness, is a type of meditation in which you open your consciousness to perceive everything around you without focusing on anything specific. Basically, the opposite of concentrative meditation.
You perceive everything more consciously and do not prioritize anything. For some, this will be difficult, especially in the beginning. Your minds are programmed to filter and process things. You need to have a very relaxed mind to simply be present without boundaries and guidance.
Therefore, in this form of meditation, the mind is compared to an open sky. The practitioner observes the clouds (thoughts) passing by.
Similar to guided meditation, open awareness meditation is a superior form of meditating. Zazen meditation and vipassana meditation, for example, are open awareness meditations.
Again, if you meditate with open awareness, it means that you leave your consciousness open. In other words, you let everything that happens pass. You simply become aware of everything that’s going on, but you don’t judge, interpret or prioritize anything.
Strictly speaking, this is the true meaning of meditation. All traditional meditation techniques recognize that focusing on an object or the process of monitoring is only a method of training the mind. This allows you to effortlessly reach inner silence and deeper states of consciousness.
How to Meditate Properly?
First things first, there is no such thing as proper meditation. So instead of wondering how to properly meditate, you should be asking yourself how to meditate successfully?
To find out how meditation works and what happens to your head and body during meditation, you must first look at the concept of brain waves.
In order to use meditation correctly, you must understand which brain wave stands for which state of mind.
If, for example, you want to overcome your fears, discover your creative part or work on your sleep problems, you will have to apply different forms of meditation in each scenario. This is because for each scenario you have to address a different brain wave.
Accordingly, the first step in meditation 101 is to understand brain waves and the respective brain states in order to consciously produce the desired results.
Brain Waves and Meditation
Depending on your state of mind, your brain acts at different brain frequencies. Every state of mind, such as happiness, stress or relaxation has a dominant brainwave frequency that defines it.
A good meditation for beginners is to concentrate on your own breath. It’s basically the easiest way to move from the Alpha or Beta state to the Theta state. The breath and mind work in tandem, so when the breath rhythm becomes longer, the brain waves will slow down along with it.
Alpha waves run in the frequency range between 8 and 13 Hertz. They are the “the power of now” and result in relaxation and calmness. When you practice mindfulness or meditation, your brain typically runs on alpha waves.
These brain waves support well-being, calmness, mindfulness, interaction of mind and body and learning.
Beta waves move in a frequency range between 13 and 38 Hertz and represent your normal waking state. They occur when you focus your attention on mentally challenging tasks.
Depression and anxiety are also associated with beta waves.
Theta waves run between 4 to 7 Hertz and occur during sleep and are associated with deep relaxation and visualization.
Theta brain waves occur most often when you sleep but also when you make it into a very deep meditation. The theta state is a state of semi-consciousness that you normally experience only fleetingly when you wake up or about to fall asleep.
In Theta you are in a dream. You see living images and have a vivid imagination beyond your normal consciousness.
Delta waves run below 4 Hertz, are similar to theta waves and occur during your sleep cycle.
This type of brain wave is slow and moves in a very low-frequency range. They appear in deep meditation and sleep. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state. That is why deep and restful sleep is so important for the healing process.
Gamma waves are largely unexplored brain waves that move in a frequency range between 39 and 100 Hertz. They are mainly present during higher mental activities and higher states of conscious perception.
Does this mean that certain types of brain waves are better than others? The answer is no. Each brain wave has a different function. During the day, depending on time and activity, you may want to produce a certain brain wave more often. This requires a certain amount of control, flexibility, and resilience.
You can learn more in our extensive article on brain waves.
Science & Meditation: Meditation for Skeptics
Let’s now move on to the part of the article which is particularly interesting for the skeptics among us.
Meditation has already established itself in science in many ways. There are countless studies that scientifically prove the effectiveness and advantages of meditation.
All of the advantages of meditation we named in our earlier chapter have a link to the respective studies.
Below you will find an overview of the most relevant studies from our point of view, to dig deeper:
- Meditation and stress (relaxation): The Harvard Gazette, see the study
- Meditation and focus: The Harvard Gazette, see the study
- Meditation and depression: The Harvard Gazette, see the study
- Meditation and pain: US National Library of Medicine, see the study
- Meditation and emotional intelligence: American Psychological Association, see the study
- Meditation and self-control: Stanford Medicine, The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, see the study
- Meditation and memory: ScienceDirect, see the study
Science has proven that meditation has many positive effects on the body and mental health. Stress reduction, relaxation, less pain, and memory improvement are just a few examples of the many benefits that meditation has to offer.
Meditation Guidelines for Beginners
Basically, there is no such thing as the one and only guide to meditation. Depending on your goals and which form of meditation you use, there are different ways how you can meditate. We at Mindmonia have created a practical step-by-step meditation guide for you that corresponds to most types of meditation.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself
There is a concept that describes the ideal initial state for meditation: the beginner’s mind, also known as Shoshin.
Shoshin is an unbiased and unprejudiced mind with which you are in the optimal state for meditation. Shoshin belongs to the basics of meditation and has certain principles:
- Start without expectations
- Discard any prejudices
- Experience reality in the present moment
- Be prepared for everything
- Don’t resist
Simplicity in this context means: less is more. The simpler, the better. Drop everything from your mind that is unimportant in the current moment.
Simplicity is one of the reasons most people struggle with meditation. Don’t follow rigid instructions and rules on how to do meditation properly. Otherwise, spend your time worrying if you’re doing everything right. In the end, this only distracts and diminishes the meditation experience. Meditation is a process where you have to let go.
As a result, always keep meditation simple.
Another key characteristic of successful meditation is humility. The attitude of constant humility is in many ways a decisive factor in the practice of meditation. Always try to meditate with an open attitude and plenty of humility.
The most wonderful and beautiful insights will then come naturally.
When you begin to meditate, you should be ready to experience everything that happens around you. Once you internalized this concept, you will find it easier to meditate, since you will not need to deal with the fear of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Things from which you sought distraction earlier, will lose their intensity and thus their power over you.
This is the moment when you can speak of true peace of mind.
As mentioned, prejudices hinder a successful meditative experience. The essence of meditation is to experience reality in the present moment.
In this context, the best attitude you can have during a meditation session is a beginner’s mind. Cherish and nurture that attitude.
Now that we’ve introduced you to the right approach to meditation, here are a few tips on how to prepare for optimal meditation:
- Find a place with little distraction. Distraction in itself is not bad, but especially for the beginning, it’s better to start with less distraction.
- Start small. 3 – 5 minutes of meditation a day are perfectly sufficient for the beginning.
- Set a timer. Stop worrying about the length of your meditation session and just meditate.
- Turn off telephones, televisions, smartphones and other interfering factors.
- Play relaxing background music.
- Try to avoid sugar and caffeine. It’s more difficult to truly relax after eating a lot of sugar or drinking caffeine.
- Especially for longer sessions, you should stretch before you start. This relaxes the muscles and releases tension in your body.
- Wear comfortable clothing. If your clothes make you feel uncomfortable, it is difficult to get calm and it holds the risk of getting distracted. Try to wear loose clothes and take off your shoes.
Step 2: Easy Meditation
Now that you prepared, the next step is to actually start meditating.
1. Find a Comfortable Position
Sit on your bed, chair or wherever you like. All that matters is that you feel comfortable. You can also lie down, but we recommend that beginners meditate in a sitting position, as it is incredibly easy to fall asleep.
Traditionally, meditation is done in a lotus position, but this position can be uncomfortable especially for beginners as they usually lack flexibility in their legs, hips and lower back. It’s best to choose a comfortable posture that allows you to sit with a balanced and upright posture.
In fact, it makes no difference whether you meditate in the familiar lotus position or simply sitting on a chair. The results and experiences are the same.
The most important thing about posture is that you sit comfortably, relaxed and with a balanced upper body so that your spine can support all your weight from the waist.
2. Open or Close Your Eyes
Close your eyes. Naturally, you can also meditate with your eyes open. However, it is easier, especially for beginners, to meditate with your eyes closed, as you avoid visual distractions.
3. Breathe in and out Consciously
Now start to pay attention to your breathing. Take three to four deep breaths and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling. Feel your stomach going up and down as you breathe. Don’t try to consciously change your breathing pattern, just breathe normally.
Imagine how you breathe out negative energy and breathe in positive energy, in these first breaths and focus your mind on the upcoming meditation.
Try to only focus on your breathing. Don’t think about your breathing and don’t judge it. An example of such a thought could be “Was this breath shorter than the last one?”. Just try to get to know your breath by focusing on the in and out.
4. Keep Your Body Still
The next step is to concentrate on your body after you have stabilized your breathing. Keep the body still and try to not move. Especially at the beginning, this part might be difficult. On the one hand, you should actually relax, on the other you must consciously concentrate on sitting motionless, which is a bit of the opposite.
5. Let Things Go
After keeping your body still for several minutes, you have to let go.
Allow everything that happens to happen without the will of changing anything. Again, avoid judging, prioritizing, or interpreting.
Just let it happen.
For example, if a car drives by, you don’t care who is sitting in it or how old the car is. You only perceive the current moment and realize that a car has passed by. That’s all. Don’t stick to past events, too. After the car has passed, banish this thought from your mind and concentrate on the presence.
Finish the meditation after 20 minutes by slowly opening your eyes and slowly returning to your normal state.
Step 3: Develop a Routine
The third and final step of this step by step tutorial is to develop a daily meditation routine.
Make it a habit to meditate daily. Establish a regular meditation time and consider where and when the sessions should take place. We at Mindmonia recommend meditating twice a day for about 20 minutes. You should do the first session after getting up and the second session after dinner.
To accomplish this, you should follow three simple principles: short – today – regular.
Set regular mini-targets for meditation to stick with it. One mini-target could be: “I want to meditate for 3 to 5 minutes today“. Confess your mini-target and meditate no matter what happens today.
Why are these mini goals so important? Let’s say you set yourself the goal to meditate 20 or 30 minutes, right away. You might have no problems reaching that goal. However, by decreasing this time to 5 minutes, the odds get way higher. Remember, it’s always easier to extend a 3-5 minute session into a full meditation session. Write a little memory that will remind you of your mini-goal to make sure that you don’t miss it.
Even if you don’t manage to meditate longer than 5 minutes: short and regular meditation is better than long and infrequent.
Another hint at this point: focus only on your daily goal. Do not try to recreate yesterday’s meditation session. Each meditation is unique. Don’t get frustrated if it feels different today than it felt the day before.
If you don’t get to the moment of letting go, don’t get frustrated. It happens even to people who meditate for years. Sometimes you just can’t relax enough.
In addition, you should see meditation as a lifestyle rather than a cut-off session that you do daily. Meditation is not separated from the rest of your life, but a part of it. It’s a life attitude based on the idea of focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment, whatever that may be.
Basically, it’s not much more than becoming aware of what you’re doing.
The thing is: no additional effort is needed to consciously practice mindfulness in daily life.
You will begin to notice when your attention deviates from the present and you switch to autopilot. Then you’ll have the opportunity to bring your attention back to the present moment. You’ll be surprised how often you subconsciously do things.
Alright, now that you read this chapter you know a proven practice that has worked for us and that works best for beginners.
Especially for the beginning, it might be better to start with a very simple meditation because every level of complexity you add hinders your ability to meditate effectively.
How to Get into Meditation Easily: 3 Exercises
In this chapter, we would like to introduce you to three exercises that will improve your ability to meditate. You can repeat these exercises as often as you like at home.
The exercises should be done in order.
Exercise 1: Keep Your Body Still
The first exercise is about improving control over your own body. For this exercise, find a quiet and undisturbed place to be alone.
Sit down in a comfortable position. Try to get into a relaxed mood but still with your mind in the present moment.
Let your mind run free. This exercise is about the connection between you and your body.
Try to keep your body completely still for 10 to 30 minutes.
If you move slightly, that’s okay. Don’t stop the exercise. Just do your best and try to stay as calm as possible for a while.
It’s best to start with 5 minutes. Keep your body as still as possible and try to practice regularly. Your goal should be to get comfortably sit still for 20 to 30 minutes. It helps to set a timer, otherwise, you will be too distracted by the thought to check how long you have been practicing.
Don’t let yourself get demotivated if you have trouble getting started. This exercise is not easy. We know the struggles. By the way, the correct execution of the exercise is more important than the length of time you can practice. Ultimately, it is better to practice holding still for 5 minutes than 20 minutes with moving around and changing positions all the time.
Don’t go over to the second exercise before you can claim to have good control over your body.
We know this exercise is challenging and requires discipline, but you can do it.
The control of your body is of great importance to re-establish the connection between your mind and your body. So before you begin to regain control of your mind, you should learn to control your body.
Exercise 2: Control Your Thoughts
The second exercise is about improving control over your mind.
Now that you can control your body and sit completely still at will, it’s time to consciously gain control over your thoughts. Start the same procedure as in the first exercise. Once you calm your body, try to reduce your thoughts.
We specifically don’t say to stop your thoughts but to reduce them. Stopping comes over time with a lot of practice.
You cannot stop your thoughts just like this.
However, you will find that just trying to hold back all your thoughts builds up an incredible discipline and you gain some control over your thoughts.
This exercise is particularly challenging. We can do the first exercise quite consistently with a little willpower, but this one is different. It’s much more complicated than the first exercise.
Anyways, you should continue this exercise until you begin to gain some control over your thoughts.
Keep in mind that the moments in which you control your mind do not last longer than a few seconds. This would already be a great success.
This exercise is incredibly important if you want to improve your meditation skills.
Exercise 3: Combine Body and Mind
Start again with the process of the first two exercises. Sit down relaxed and alert at the same time and try to inhibit and control your thoughts as best you can.
But this time, as you do so, relax and let go.
This may sound a little contradictory for now, but trust us, if you work hard on these three exercises, you will see for yourself that they are feasible.
You reduce all your thoughts as much as possible but for this exercise, you relax and let your muscles loosen naturally. You consciously decide that you will relax each muscle until you feel calm and restful and at peace with yourself.
Perform this task as extensive as possible.
Remember: physical tension leads to mental restlessness. Physical relaxation is achieved with the will.
Meditation Tips: 14 Tips for More Success in Meditation
Everyone who already meditates successfully for a longer period of time knows that meditation can be a strong base for well-being. When meditation becomes a habit, it becomes a reliable source of peace and tranquility.
Truth be told, it’s known that it’s difficult to meditate on a regular basis and build a habit. In our busy lives, meditation doesn’t necessarily seem like a high priority.
That is why we have compiled the following tips for you. Combine them with the guides and information above to enjoy the best meditation experiences.
Meditation Tip 1: Count Your Breaths
Focus your attention on your breath while you meditate. As you inhale, focus on your breath and follow it through your nose down to your lungs. Count “one” when you breathe in, then “two” when you exhale. Repeat this ten times and then start at one again.
This tip is especially helpful if you have problems letting go or if can’t relax.
Meditation Tip 2: Don’t Try to Stop Your Thoughts Completely
Many people believe that meditation is about purifying the mind or stopping all thoughts. That’s not the point. Sometimes it can happen that you can control your thoughts, but that’s not the purpose of meditation.
It’s okay if you have thoughts while meditating. That’s normal. Your brain is a thought-factory you can’t switch off. Instead, just try to improve the focus of your attention.
Meditation Tip 3: Get to Know Yourself
Meditation is not only about strengthening your mindfulness. Rather, it is about understanding how your mind works.
It may be confusing in the beginning, but if you observe your thoughts neutrally long enough, you will recognize certain patterns and get to know yourself better.
Meditation Tip 4: Mind Your Body
Another way to help you release tension in your body is to consciously focus your attention on certain parts of your body. Start from your feet and move your attention slowly towards your head.
Meditation Tip 5: Commit to Meditation
Don’t approach meditation with the attitude: “Sure, I’ll try it out for a few days”. You have to give the whole thing a certain meaning and really put yourself into it. Focus your mind on it in order to builder a habit and a “meditation lifestyle”.
Meditation Tip 6: Socialize
You don’t have to meditate alone. Ask your spouse, child or friend if they want to join your meditation session. Even better: make a deal with a friend to remind you to meditate regularly.
Meditation Tip 7: Find Like-Minded People
In your hometown, there might be a meditation community that meets offline to meditate together. If not you can still find an online group. Ask questions, get support, and encourage others to explore the topic of meditation. Not only will you stick with it longer, but you will help others at the same time.
Meditation Tip 8: Remember the Benefits of Meditation
Take a moment after each session to see how you feel – physically, emotionally and mentally. Once you begin to make a connection between your meditation practice and your improved well-being, it will be easier to continue and stay motivated.
Meditation Tip 9: Use Guided Meditation
During guided meditations, you get guides through every step of the meditation. They are enormously helpful because they do exactly what the name suggests: guiding you through meditation so that you don’t have to think or worry about what to do next. You can just sit back, relax and follow the instructions.
Meditation music is also helpful if you feel too distracted by the guidelines of the meditation instructor.
Meditation Tip 10: Start an Excuse Book
If you decide to skip meditation for a day, write down the reasons. Ask yourself: “This did reason stop me from meditating for just a couple of minutes, or did I let myself down?” In most cases, it’s probably the second statement. With such an excuse book you are regularly reminded how important the health of your mind and body really is.
Here are 20 further tips on how to stop procrastinating.
Meditation Tip 11: Integrate Meditation into Your Daily Routine
It definitely helps to integrate your meditation exercise into your daily routine. For example: “brush your teeth, then meditate” or “meditate, then drink tea”.
Meditation Tip 12: Keep the Routine Flexible
Stay flexible with your meditation sessions. Don’t make it a reason not to meditate when you can’t invest 20 minutes every day. It can also be less or if you’re not feeling good, start with less and if you feel like you want to keep on meditating for another 10 minutes, go from there.
Meditation Tip 13: Smile When You’re Done
After you finish your meditation session, smile for the next two minutes. Be thankful that you had this time for yourself, that you stuck with your commitment and showed self-love. You invested time in yourself, to get to know yourself better and to maintain your own mental and physical health.
Meditation Tip 14: Integrate Mudras
Mudras are hand postures in both yoga and meditation. They are used as tools to enhance and intensify the meditation experience.
The use of mudras in meditation has given these hand gestures meaning in a deeper context, both symbolically and culturally.
Read more about the benefits of mudras.
In this infographic, you will find all the tips again. Feel free to bookmark it: here is the link to the graphic.
Remember also: Meditation can only take five minutes and has a real impact on your mental and physical health and all that completely naturally.
In the last chapter of our detailed guide, we compiled and answered a list of the most frequently asked questions and misunderstandings.
How Long Should My Meditation Sessions Last?
All in all, there is no predefined limit. In most cases, a meditation session should last 15 to 30 minutes, preferably twice a day. However, these are more recommendations than guidelines. Depending on the form and goal of the meditation, the duration can vary.
As mentioned, it is much better to do short and regular meditations than long and infrequent ones.
How Is Meditation Different from Hypnosis?
Meditation and hypnosis have many things in common. Both involve, for example, changing the attention to the present moment and improving someone’s consciousness.
However, there are also some differences.
If a hypnotist uses certain speech patterns to create trance and influence the subconscious, we would not necessarily call this meditation, although the person being hypnotized would be in a changed state and would experience a state of consciousness.
The bottom line is that there are more similarities than differences.
Do I Need to Use a Mantra to Meditate?
As explained above, you can use mantras for certain purposes, but you don’t have to. As soon as you use mantras, you speak of a mantra meditation that is especially suitable for spiritual purposes.
Mantras are incredibly powerful words and phrases that can enhance the effect of meditation and even steer it in a certain direction. For example, there are chakra mantras, ancient mantras, and modern mantras, which all serve different purposes.
Can Children Meditate?
Yes, children can meditate.
Meditation is a great practice for children, especially nowadays when many children are over-excited and pumped full of sugar and heavily use attention-stealing technology. It’s an excellent way to help children relax, be calmer and learn to spend time with themselves.
At a young age, it can also be helpful for education, as they are expected at school to be able to concentrate and focus for a long time.
When Is the Best Time of the Day to Meditate?
There is no such thing as the right time for meditation. Depending on how you shape your day, your meditation time will also depend on it. Any time is the right time.
We at Mindmonia like to meditate in the morning after getting up because it gives us a clear view and a better overview of the day. Besides, you have little distraction in the morning and fewer excuses like “I don’t have time to meditate”.
You definitely don’t want to be too dependent on quiet surroundings to practice meditation. Once you get used to that, you will have problems calming your thoughts and meditating properly in new situations. Therefore, be open to practicing your meditation routine outside of home.
In order to develop a consistent meditation practice and to get the maximum benefit from it, you should undergo daily mindfulness training.
How Do I Know That I’m Really Meditating?
In order to answer this question, let’s take another look at our definition:
“Meditation is a relaxation practice that helps you to direct your full attention, unbiased, to the present moment”.
With this definition, you can easily determine if you’re meditating or not. When you focus your attention completely on the present moment, you are meditating. If not, then not.
Many people have problems to fully engage with the present moment. However, don’t worry about whether you have got all the steps right or not. As mentioned earlier, the meditation guides are recommendations rather than strict rules.
If you follow the simple instructions, tips, and practices that we explained in detail in this article, you should have no problem with meditating properly.
You can only understand meditation by experiencing it.
In other words, instead of asking yourself whether you are really meditating or not, you should just practice.
Another thing you should always remember: don’t try to meditate perfectly. Even the idea of being good at meditation will be demotivating, especially at the beginning when your meditation sessions aren’t perfect yet.
The more you try to meditate perfectly, the more likely you are to fail.
Meditation means to point your attention, unbiased, to the present moment.
It’s a practice that is often misunderstood and biased with many myths and prejudices. It’s not about becoming a different, new or better person or about controlling your thoughts. Meditation pursues the goal you set. It’s that easy. Depending on what you want to achieve, you should look at the different types of meditation and choose the one that is right for you and your goal.
Even if it has its roots in religiosity and spirituality, modern meditation has only little in common with this. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to meditate or experience the advantages of meditation.
Ultimately, it is about improving your health. Meditation has many advantages both physically and mentally. The effect on the human organism is scientifically proven in many ways.
In this article, we have created the ultimate guide for you, with practical instructions, tips, benefits and step by step approaches, that will help you to conquer meditation.
The key to a successful meditation practice is mindfulness. Learn more about personal development and mindfulness, subscribe to our free newsletter.
We’re excited to welcome you in our community of mindfulness and thanks for reading.