Meditation for Beginners
Making Meditation a Part of Your Daily Routine
Be realistic about your expectations.
Gradually add meditation to your routine. Don’t expect major life changes or experiences after the first try or even a handful of attempts at meditation. Your mind will wander. You may get restless. All of that is common and ok. As you continue to practice and refine your meditation, realize that wanting to meditate is an indication of the positive effect it is creating.
Keep in mind the benefits.
Further along this page, you’ll see that meditation can improve a number of aspects of your life, including your mental health and quality of sleep. It can also help you focus better on your tasks or disconnect when you want to let go and find a place of inner peace and mindfulness.
Find a comfortable place.
Be open to a variety of spots when you want to meditate. You could meditate in particular room in your home that has just the right atmosphere and that you’ve set up for that purpose. You can also meditate outdoors, including your back yard or a favorite park. Cars are also a great place to meditate. For many people, the car is their refuge from the world and one of the few spots where they have some personal time. When you want to leave the office for a few minutes or during a lunch break to decompress, relax in your car and dive into a few minutes of calm.
Don’t give up.
Remember the reason you started meditating. By regularly practicing mediation, it will become something you look forward to doing, something that you would rather do than whatever else would occupy your time.
Use an app.
As you’ll learn below, mediation apps can be great guides and motivators. There are a number of apps that appear on lists of the best ones, so experiment with those until you find the one (or more than one) that works for you.
Experiment with meditating at different times each day.
You may start off meditating just a few minutes a couple of days a week.If you choose a time and discover that it doesn’t feel right, try another one. As you meditate at times where it doesn’t conflict with your schedule, you may discover that it has become as an essential part of your day.
On that last point: Keep in mind that meditation and the enjoyment you get from it can be their own reward. Yes, consistent meditation can positively affect and improve other areas of your life. But you’ll also find that the act of meditating will bring you into the moment – and it’s that moment you want to savor and enjoy.
How Meditation Can Help You Sleep
If you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, you’re not alone. The American Sleep Association reports that 30% of Americans experience short-term insomnia, while 10% have long-lasting insomnia.
Having too little sleep takes a toll on our bodies and mental health. Not enough rest will cause us to experience high levels of stress from worrying about our lack of sleep. It will also make us irritable and impair our ability to think. This is especially dangerous when you consider how many millions of people get on the road in their cars while still feeling tired.
What disrupts our ability to get a good night’s sleep?
Some of the major risk factors include:
Stressors may be work or family related, or they may be induced by a significant life change, like a breakup, the loss of a job, or moving into a new home. You may also worry a lot and experience high levels of anxiety.
POOR SLEEPING HABITS
These include going to bed too early and too late. You might also get up frequently during the night and decide you need to work on some project instead of letting it wait until the next day.
MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are among the top mental health conditions affecting millions of people.
A wide range of medications can contribute to insomnia, including beta-blockers (which are used to lower blood pressure), SSRI anti-depressants, and statins (which treat high cholesterol).
By choosing to meditate just a few minutes each night, you can mitigate the factors that are harming your sleep cycle.
Meditation works by relaxing the mind and letting our bodies know that we are ready to rest and recharge.
Keep in mind: You don’t have to have insomnia to benefit from meditation. The right meditation routine can improve the quality of your sleep and the rest of your day – even when you’re working.
Meditation for Your Mental Health
Some of the most common mental health conditions include anxiety and depression. By meditating, you can alleviate these conditions or the mindset that is causing you stress and discomfort.
You don’t need a clinically diagnosed condition to enjoy better mental health through meditation. By meditating, you can start to manage:
- Negative emotions like anger and fear
- Your nervous system and how it responds to stressors
- Levels of inflammation in the body
- Your ability to focus in situations that require your full attention
If you’re taking medication as part of your mental health treatment plan, talk to your doctor about adding meditation to your routine. While meditation shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for your prescription drugs, it can be a valuable addition to your health management.
How to Find the Best Guided Meditation App
Maybe you want to meditate for a specific reason (like self-improvement, stress reduction, or curiosity about the health benefits). It could be that you’d like to be present in the moment in a way you don’t get to be in your daily work. Whatever your motivation, there are a number of mediation apps that can work for your situation, needs, and goals.
The advantage of using an app is that it’s usually less expensive than going to an in-person meditation class. But the key is to find the right app so that you get the benefits you expect.
Apps like Headspace and Calm can be found on lists of the best meditation apps. Look for ones with free trials so that you can experiment with a variety of apps until you find the one – or more than one – that is the best fit.
Some criteria for choosing a meditation app include:
- What you hope to achieve through meditation
- The variety of experiences you expect from the app
- Whether you’re new to meditation or you’re seeking to learn new practices
- Whether you hope to work with a mindfulness teacher that offers advice