How to Meditate for Beginners
What is meditation?
In a nutshell, meditation is a tool that can be used to help quieten the mind. It increases awareness and focuses your attention, so you are able to feel, tune in and become more aware of your body and your surroundings.
This is a guide to meditation for beginners to help you get started on your journey...
Why Should I meditate?
Meditation has many benefits. We can tell you from experience (most of Team Asquith are meditators) how much it has had a positive effect on us as a team and as individuals.
Here are some of the reasons you should try meditation:
- Meditation helps you to deal with stress and anxiety.
- It increases creativity.
- It can improve self-awareness.
- It helps you to process emotions better.
- It can help you to sleep more soundly.
- Meditation increases energy and productivity.
- It can help you to breathe better and more deeply.
- Meditation improves concentration.
- It generates optimism, self-esteem and motivation.
How does it work?
Meditation has been studied by scientists for years and they now have a better, proven understanding to why it has so many incredible effects.
When you meditate the brain stops processing information as it normally would. It slows down, goes ‘offline’ and reduces stimuli so you can go inward, rejuvenate and work through emotions.
Meditating increases ‘grey matter’ in the brain which can lead to positive thoughts, emotional stability and an increase in concentration and cognitive function.
What are the different types of meditation?
There are hundreds of different ‘types’ of meditation. But here are some meditation techniques that you may have heard of:
You may have heard Mindfulness meditation being talked about in recent years. It has become somewhat of a trend and with good reason.
Being mindful is the ability to be fully present and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s much easier said than done but it can be achieved by taking time to stop and listen.
Simple techniques such as body scan or sitting in a quiet spot can help to increase mindfulness and unlike ‘traditional’ meditation, it can be done on a walk, in a yoga class or simply at your desk.
Being mindful is about stopping and pausing when the phone rings rather than rushing to answer it.
Guided Mediation has become extremely popular with apps such as Headspace and Calm and it’s an easy way to begin your journey as a meditator. Guided meditation helps your brain to focus by being told what, how and where to feel and think.
Some people stick with guided meditation and others start here until they find their groove.
Check out Headspace for guided classes to get you going.
Visualisation is great for people you guessed it, who are very visual. In visualisation meditation you hold a goal or a thought in your mind and ‘visualise’ it coming true.
You might experience it taking place in great detail in your mind and it’s common for people to feel emotions that are linked to the outcome.
It’s a great way to set a positive intention and focus on a specific area or event in your life.
Vedic Meditation is thousands of years old and hails from Veda in India, the source of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine.
In Vedic Meditation you learn a mantra (a simple meaningless sound) that you repeat in your mind as you are sitting in a mediative state. This mantra helps to quieten your thoughts helping you to go deeper into your mind.
It’s a very simple practice and is taken twice a day for 20 minutes. Vedic meditation must be taught by a Vedic practitioner. We recommend The London Meditation Centre (our Founder Alice was taught here). You can check out a mini Vedic Meditation with the Founder of The London Meditation Centre here.
How do I meditate?
This is a tricky question as everyone is different.
It depends on many circumstances from how much time you have to what space you are meditating in. Some people prefer to meditate on public transport whilst on their way to work and others get up at 5am to start their day with an hour-long practice so it is very variable.
Some of our top tops for starting your meditation journey are:
- Find a slot in the day that you reserve purely for your meditation practice. Put it in your diary and treat it like an important meeting (prioritising yourself is key). We like to do ours first thing when we wake up.
- Don’t feel guilty if you miss a session or a few days. It’s about being aware, and you will know when it feels right to start again.
- Don’t expect results straight away. Meditation takes time. It can be difficult to get going and to feel comfortable but trust the practice and yourself. It will be great!
What should I wear?
Comfort is key. You want to wear something that you feel comfortable in whilst sitting or lying for a period of time.
Our ethical yoga clothes are perfect for practicing meditation. Made from buttery-soft organic cotton and bamboo, they feel amazing against your skin, plus they’re temperature regulating to keep you toasty on chilly mornings or cool if you’re lucky enough to meditate outside in the sunshine.
We always recommend having a pillow, a mat and a blanket to hand so you can get extra cosy.
What better way to get you meditating than with a mini guided meditation? You can do it on its own when you have a spare 20 minutes or tag it on after a yoga or Pilates class. It’s super simple and a great way to begin.
Put on your comfiest outfit (our super-soft sustainable activewear does just the trick) and find a quiet place where you can lie for 20 minutes. Grab some cushions and a blanket and get comfortable.
1. Start by taking three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, focussing on filling up the lungs from the belly and expelling the air fully each time. Once this is completed, start to let your breath settle, breathing in and out through your nose if possible (it can take time to build this up).
2. Start to scan your body. Begin at the top of your head and imagine a soft, warm, white light covering you like water from the top of your crown to the tip of your fingers, down your legs and out through your toes. Focus on every part of your body and notice anything that feels out of balance. If an area feels uncomfortable or just ‘off’ send some of the warm, white light to it in your mind until the feeling is no longer there.
3. Relax, don’t look at the clock and try to quieten your mind by focussing on the simple act of breathing in and breathing out. You don’t need to be anywhere or do anything other than focus on your breath.
4. You will know when it is time to stop. Let your body guide you out of your meditation but don’t get up right away. Slowly open your eyes, wiggle your toes and stay there for a couple of minutes before rolling onto your side and slowly sitting up. Notice how you feel and relish in the time you took for yourself.
You can practice this whenever you need to recharge, reset and go back to your centre.