Starting Meditation – Tips for Beginners
Meditation is an ancient spiritual activity that has been practiced in many cultures and religions for centuries. However, in recent years, it has also constantly grown in popularity in the
Western world due to the positive effects on the body and mind. But how do you start meditation, and what do you need to know when doing so? If you have never meditated before, starting can be a bit difficult. Together with 7Mind, we have gathered some tips that will help you start meditating and build a lasting meditation routine.
What does meditation mean?
Meditation and meditating refer to a technique or mental exercise that helps to calm down your thoughts and attention and draws upon the here and now. 7mind describes meditation as mental strength training. “It causes you to be able to perceive and better understand your own emotions, bodily perceptions, thought processes, and your direct environment more consciously.” In doing so, you will explore thoughts and feelings without wanting to evaluate, analyze, or suppress them. “You can practice meditation in various ways – including Buddhist meditation, transcendental meditation, and much more.” Over the long term, the practice will help you to reduce stress, promote your emotional resilience, increase your mindfulness, and improve your general well-being.
How do I begin meditating? Achieve your goal in 5 steps
To support your first meditation as a beginner, we got together with 7Mind to share the five most important steps for learning meditation.
1. Find a quiet place
An important factor in meditation is peace and quiet. Therefore, find a place where you are undisturbed and where there aren’t any disruptive sounds or distractions. This will help you to fully concentrate on the here and now.
2. Choose a position that is comfortable for you
Don’t worry, you don’t have to start your first meditation in the famous lotus position. Normally, you will choose an upright sitting position on a chair or will sit cross-legged on a mat or pillow. You should never experience pain in the position – because apart from the fact that it is uncomfortable, it also distracts you from meditation. Your back should be as straight as possible, and your shoulders should be able to fall in a relaxed way back and down. You can lay your hands in your lap or place them on your thighs.
3. Start with a guided meditation
If you have only just started meditating, the various meditation techniques can overwhelm you quickly. Therefore, it can be very helpful to do a guided mediation in a studio or using an app. This will get you used to the technique slowly and you can follow a clear structure.
4. Set a fixed time for yourself
Find a fixed time at which you can incorporate meditation into your everyday life without complications and when you can get some peace and quiet.
5. Start with short sessions and come back out of it slowly
If you have never meditated, it can be difficult to sit still for longer periods of time. Therefore, start with short sessions of five to ten minutes and then slowly increase the duration. Moreover, it is important to return slowly from your meditation when it comes to an end. Stretch, breathe in and out consciously and deeply, and open your eyes slowly.
What benefits are there to starting meditation?
There are many scientific studies that have examined the benefits of meditation. According to a study from Harvard University, relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga have a lasting effect on your own sense of recuperation over the long term. This lasts even longer than after a great travel experience. The researchers tested the blood of the volunteers for biological processes related to stress, cell health, and aging processes. The result is clear: Meditation strengthens the cells over the long term and thus, also improves the body’s metabolism. “Meditation seems to be one of the ways to provide our immune system with relief,” is how Rudolph Tanzi, a neurologist from Harvard University, interprets the study results. “The daily stress that a body has to endure is reduced. This can result in healthier aging.”
A study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore shows that meditation can help to relieve anxiety and depression and improve cognitive function. Another study has shown that meditation can reduce the severity of depression, anxiety, and pain.
7Mind has also gathered the most important positive effects of meditation:
- Improves sleep
- Reduces stress
- Stops your mind from racing
- Helps to create a feeling of inner calm
- Strengthens relationships and love for others
- Improves self-awareness and love for yourself
- Helps you perceive happiness and gratitude more strongly
- Reinforces creativity
- Increases the ability to concentrate
- Helps you live more in the here and now
- Increases productivity
Tips and tricks for beginners when meditating
As you have already seen, meditation helps you to escape from your daily life and to get back in touch with yourself. Abilities such as love for yourself and caring are also improved through mental training. In addition, stress hormones will be broken down during meditation, making you feel more at peace, relaxed, and sensitive. But what tips and tricks are there for beginners when meditating? 7Mind has answered three typical questions that beginners often ask.
How do I know if I’m doing it right?
Meditating is not actually about being successful at it. Nevertheless, you can sometimes think that it has “not worked so well today” – for example, because many thoughts came up. A change of perspective helps here: Simply the fact that you noticed what is going on in your head shows that you were attentive. And that’s exactly what meditation is!
What do I do if my legs fall asleep?
Choose a position that is still comfortable after ten minutes. You don’t have to sit cross-legged; you can also sit on a chair like you normally would. Loose and comfortable clothing also helps stop your legs from falling asleep.
What if I don’t feel an effect?
Many believe that when meditating, you have to turn off all thoughts immediately to reach “enlightenment” as quickly as possible. That’s simply not the reality. Meditation can work like a mirror and show you how you feel. Be patient and be aware: If you don’t expect too much from every single meditation session, then you will get the most out of it in the long term.
What is a typical mistake if I want to start meditating?
Many meditation beginners make the same mistake at the beginning: They want to use all their willpower to not think about anything anymore, sit upright, and focus on their breathing. If you demand too much from yourself at the beginning, it is hardly a surprise when you lose your desire to meditate after a few days. It’s best to start small: You can focus on your breathing, look into a candle, or just watch nature around you. What is important is that you notice yourself: your breathing, your body, and your mind. Your breathing should always be effortless, almost entirely happening on its own. If you notice that your thoughts are wandering, bring them back quite gently – for example, consciously focus on your breathing again. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t all work right from the beginning. Pay careful attention to yourself and tap into what is good for you, without evaluating it. The longer and more regularly you practice, the easier it will be. So, be really patient with yourself.
What meditation techniques are there?
There are many meditation styles. These include: perceiving thoughts, breathing observation, body scan, walking meditation, visualization and imagination, sound meditation, and much more. A frequently used technique is breathing observation or focusing on your breathing. It is also often used in yoga. While doing it, you consciously focus on inhaling and exhaling and leave all other thoughts aside. If other thoughts creep in, try to just let them go by while focusing on your breathing again. This technique can also be easily integrated into your everyday life. Another popular technique is body scan meditation. Here, you scan your body for pain, tension, and anything unusual by consciously directing the concentration through every single part of your body and breathing deeply. Come to rest and relax every part of your body, from head to toe. Your breathing should also stay relaxed here.
What is the best time to meditate?
According to 7Mind, there is no single perfect time to meditate. “You can start the day with meditation or integrate it as an evening ritual before going to sleep. What is important is that you choose a time when meditation can be easily integrated into your everyday life. This is how it becomes a routine – like brushing your teeth.” So choose a fixed time in which you can concentrate on meditation. That means no phone and no background noise. Try to be undisturbed and/or simply don’t let anyone disturb you.
What is the right place to meditate?
Really, almost anywhere is suitable for meditation. The most important thing is that you are undisturbed and don’t have any distractions. In the beginning, it can help to choose a place where you feel comfortable – for example, you can set up a small meditation corner in your home, 7Mind explains. But you can also meditate on a kitchen chair or at a desk. Find a fixed place where you can come to rest and relax. To create a pleasant atmosphere, you can of course also light candles or incense sticks, set up a photo or a picture that inspires you, or put on quiet meditation music. To increase your well-being, get a meditation pillow, mat, or bench to sit more comfortably during your meditation.
What is a suitable position for meditation?
7Mind explains: Many people think that meditation has to happen while sitting cross-legged. There is no need for a specific position. What is important is that you can breathe freely and can be both relaxed and attentive.
As described above, it can help to be in an upright position. An upright back causes your chest to open up; you can breathe freely, and thus an unhindered energy flow is achieved. Just drop your arms in your lap and lay your hands on your knees. Your head should be facing forward in a relaxed position. Let your shoulders fall relaxed downwards. What is important is to relax your body while maintaining an upright position. Closed eyes can facilitate concentration. Of course, you can also meditate with your eyes open. After a while, you will find out what preferences you have when meditating.
How long does meditation take?
Just like with yoga or other mindfulness practices, it depends on your preferences and how much time you have. However, it is important to meditate regularly to take advantage of the many benefits over the long term. While some people meditate for only for a few minutes a day, others meditate significantly longer. It is important that you feel comfortable and won’t be overwhelmed if you want to learn meditation. 7Mind confirms this: “Many people believe that meditation needs to last as long as possible. But science shows that just a few minutes is enough to feel positive effects. Sometimes three minutes during your lunch break are much more effective than 20 minutes that you have to squeeze into your morning routine.”
Where can I start meditation?
As described above, it is best for beginners to start with guided meditations. For example, there is the meditation app from 7Mind. It is also suitable for when you are out and about. If you want to work with live classes at home or with a teacher in person, you have a wide range of meditation partners throughout Germany and Europe with Urban Sports Club. These often connect yoga and mindfulness with meditation. Simply select a location near you – whether it’s in Berlin, Munich, Cologne, or Hamburg. The selection is limitless.
Meditation during pregnancy
Meditation also offers many benefits for your body and mind during pregnancy. Not only does it help you to reduce stress, sleep better, and learn to be more mindful, it also increases your connection to your baby through the stronger perception of your body. In general, the body is significantly more sensitive to external and internal influences during pregnancy. Through a daily body scan or breathing observation, for example, you perceive your body much more consciously and can learn to listen to your needs better. Moreover, it can be easily integrated into your daily life. With meditation, you can learn to love yourself and to love your baby even more. Many practitioners also combine mindfulness exercises, such as meditation with yoga. Try it out and find the right style for you.
Overall, it can be said that meditation and mindfulness, with the right technique and a bit of practice, is a valuable practice that offers many benefits for your body and mind. We hope that we have awakened your motivation with our tips! Now it’s up to you to learn meditation.
And one final tip: Be patient and give yourself the rest and time to learn meditation and mindfulness. It can take some time – especially as a beginner – until you can really relax and calm your mind.
Sources: Starting meditation
- Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EMS, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357–368. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754
- Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(2), 169–183. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018555
- Epel, E. S., Puterman, E., Lin, J., Blackburn, E. H., Lum, P. Y., Beckmann, N. D., Zhu, J., Lee, E., Gilbert, A., Rissman, R. A., Tanzi, R. E., & Schadt, E. E. (2016). Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational psychiatry, 6(8), e880. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.164
- Interview mit 7Mind zum Thema Meditieren anfangen