Transcendental Meditation, Kundalini, Guided Visualization, Qi Gong, Mindfulness—just do a Google search for meditation tips, and you may feel overwhelmed. One of these could be right for you, or none of them may appeal, or elements from various types adapted into something you make YOUR meditation mode. But let’s pump the breaks. If you are new to meditating then finding your meditation style is not immediately important, nor is it practical. After all, if you’ve never gone snow skiing in your life, would you just jump right into slalom, freestyle, and back-country skiing to determine your style? Of course not; you would start with the basics, and work your way up to a point where knowledge and experience can help you choose a style that resonates. Meditation is no different; it is a discipline that takes practice. Here are six meditation tips and considerations for beginners to help map a path to increased health, peace and better living.
Meditation Tips: Meditating has No Right or Wrong Way
First, let’s just come out and say it. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, or is there some meditation Bible that serves as an ethereal, universal guide. As the saying goes, there are many ways to get to Rome. You can consider taking tips from those with experience, try them out on your own, and see what resonates. If you find you meditate better laying down, then don’t feel like you have to sit cross-legged in front of a shrine. If having a shrine with a singing bowl, some candles, and some incense helps you connect, great. Does focusing on your breathing distract you from keeping your mind open to guidance? Look for an alternative. Do what works for you. And if you ever go on a meditation retreat or engage in group meditation, aim to learn from teachers who value one’s individual style and needs.
1. Understand your Intentions
Why do you want to meditate? Are you considering it as a potential hobby, or a lifestyle change (or both)? Do you have a “pain” that you hope meditating can quench such as anger, dealing with an illness, or trying to better connect with yourself? Do you seek an authentic self-loving relationship and feel meditation may help get you to that place? People are drawn to the idea of meditating for a number of reasons. If you want to start meditating, it may be helpful to first determine what your conscious intentions are.
Second, it will support you to not set any expectations. Meditation is all about clearing the mind and allowing pure energy to awaken so you may feel more at peace and better connected to the world around you, and to yourself. If you create expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment because, again, meditation requires patience and practice before you start feeling the payoff. Finally, be mindful that although you may embrace certain meditation tips with a set direction in your mind, meditation often awakens new realizations and discoveries within yourself that create new intentions and goals previously unseen at a conscious level.
2. When is the Best Time to Meditate?
There is no rule in meditating that says you need a clock. You may even find yourself in heavy traffic with the desire to pull over and meditate, which is perfectly fine. However, most people with a lengthy history of meditating daily report that morning is the best time because they find greater concentration and awareness when they are fresh from the night’s sleep, and because it is a great way to start the day. Try meditating in the morning, and in the evening. See if you notice a difference in your ability to stay focused.
3. Where is the Best Place to Meditate?
When we see images of people meditating they are often sitting cross-legged on a deck by water, in a temple, or in the hills. Really, the best place to meditate is where you feel the most peaceful, and where you are likely to run into fewest distractions.
What if you feel the most at peace in nature, you wish to meditate immediately after you wake up in the morning, but you live in the city far from nature or any green space? In this case an option for you may be to allocate a space in your home for meditating that incorporates plants and a water feature.
Or perhaps you simply need a quiet place to meditate, and that’s it. Try meditating on the floor of your bedroom, while seated on a chair at home or private office or even on the floor in your closet. Play around with location and find a place where you feel more relaxed, comfortable, and free of distractions.
4. Meditation Methodology Options
If you are a beginner, its best to start out slow. For example, someone new to running isn’t going to sign up for a marathon on day one. Popular meditation tips for beginners suggest to start out with limited timed sessions, and increase that time with every passing week. Start meditating by sitting still for two minutes a day, and do this for your first week. This may sound ridiculously simple, but it can be challenging if your brain is not used to be in the silence. Next week, add an extra two minutes to each session, and work your way up.
The time you spend meditating as a beginner is not the only important factor in the methodology pool; other things like clearing the noise from your mind, breathing, and posture matter. Once you feel settled in, focus on your breathing. You can count your breaths and try regulating them. You can also visualize your breath as a colorful mist; as you exhale the brilliant blues, greens and oranges gently leave your mouth forming a loving cloud, and as you inhale this cloud is drawn downwards, into your stomach, moves up your body, and is breathed back out again. This is a technique that creates a rhythm, and helps keep your awareness dialed in.
As thoughts and feelings enter, form a loving attitude, allow it to pass by with out judgement. Wish the subjects of your thoughts well, send love, and invite peace. Traditional posture requires one to sit up straight (unless you have a physical condition that makes this painful) so your lungs can expand and contract at full form while you honor your body as a temple. As you get more experienced in meditating, you can make alterations to the basics and see if there isn’t a method more serving. The key is to keep an open mind, and let the universe guide you.
5. What Type of Meditation is Right for Me?
Now that you have had some experience, and you have invested time and thought into your intentions, where and when to meditate, and have noted what methods seem to work better than others, you may want to start exploring the different types of meditation.
Yoga Meditations – Some people really connect spiritually with themselves by meditating while moving their body. If you feel this might resonate, try one of many types of yoga meditation where holding physical postures plays directly into your breathing and focus.
Zazen (Zen) Meditation – When people say they meditate, they are likely referring to this type, as it is the most common. It is generally performed by sitting cross-legged or in the lotus position on a cushion or mat, or even sitting upright in a chair. The idea is to keep your back straight and in line with your neck and pelvis, and with your gaze lowered to a spot on the floor about 24 inches away from your feet. Once positioned you focus on your breathing, counting each breath in your mind.
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta) – Metta is Pali for “kindness, benevolence and good will” and is a type of Compassion Meditation. This meditation is ideal for people who are interested in developing positive emotions, compassion for others, self compassion, and to gain an increased feeling of purpose and self awareness. To do this you sit on the floor with your eyes closed and generate feelings of benevolence and loving kindness in your heart and mind. Then you harness that energy and send it to others, to yourself, and to the universe.
Mindfullness Meditation – This type of meditation is a hybrid of Western methods and traditional Buddhist practices. The idea is to only focus on the present moment and listen to the thoughts, sensations, and feelings that enter your awareness, with no judgement. Breathing plays a big role here; as you breathe in and out pay attention to the movements. In the event you experience thoughts not associated with the present, redirect your attention to your breathing to clear them.
Transcendental Meditation – commonly known as TM, this technique helps in promoting a state of relaxed awareness while allowing distracting thoguhts to float away and restoring balance on all levels. By gently repeating a specifitc mantra the mind is invited to relax while the consciousness awakens and clears unserving conditions. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi derived TM from the ancient Vedic tradition of India. Practicing this technique requires specific instruction from a certified TM teacher.
6. Explore Various Meditation Tools and Accessories
In theory the only thing a person needs to meditate successfully is a quite place to sit down uninterrupted. Yet there are a number of meditation tools and accessories that may add great value into various meditation practices and rituals. The more popular ones include Mala beads, a Tibetan singing bowl, Chakra stones, meditation statues, incense, and candles.
How to Use Mala Beads in Meditation
Mala beads come in a strand of 108 for longer meditations, and bead strands of 27 or 21 for shorter sessions. They can be made from various materials, though most are composed of gem stones to match your intentions. To use Mala beads in meditation sit on the floor and hold the Mala in your right hand. Close your eyes and pay attention to the depth and pace of your breathing. Focus your attention on the mantra and let the first bead dangle from your middle finger with your thumb on the guru bead and begin reciting. At the conclusion of your first recital, push the bead over with your thumb and move on to the next one for round two, and so on.
How to Use a Singing Bowl in Meditation
Also known as a Tibetan bowl, a singing bowl serves as a type of bell producing a sound that cleans the energy in a room, enables trance, promotes meditation, and is used in spiritual and physical healing. Before you say your mantra, or begin sending loving energy, you can strike the singing bowl to enhance the passage of energy.
Using Chakra Stones
Chakra stones can help you balance your energy to improve emotional and physical well-being, as each has healing properties and vibration frequencies. Also known as Healing Stones, your Chakra stones can be polished baring their bright color, or in their unpolished natural state. Chakra stones require cleansing in between each use. You can do this by exposing them to the moonlight, letting them sit in salt water, or burying them in various dried herbs. It is important that each gemstone is placed on its intended chakra, so knowing the type of stone, its color, and where the chakra point’s various locations are on the body is key.
Where to Place Chakra Stones
There is a certain order for stone placement. Begin with the root chakra, and work your way up until you reach the crown chakra. Your chakra points are:
- Top of head — crown chakra ( violet or white)
- Forehead — Third Eye chakra (purple or indigo)
- Throat — throat chakra (blue)
- Heart — heart chakra (green or pink)
- Navel — solar plexus chakra (yellow)
- Pelvic area — sacral chakra (orange)
- Groin or feet — root chakra (red)
There are several meditations you can do after placing the Chakra stones. For example, you can imagine you are laying outdoors by an old oak tree. Its roots loving and gently penetrating up from the earth, seeking your limbs and torso, gently wrapping themselves around you and hugging you to the ground making you feel one with the earth.
Using Meditation Statues
Some people like to use Buddha statues in their meditations. They also enjoy the positive energy these statues release into the home. Some people find that visual aids help them achieve greater focus. For example, some springboard divers will pick a spot on the wall or place an object somewhere to focus on when they dive so they can keep track of their arial rotations and distance from the water. Meditation statues are no different as they give some people a greater sense of focus in their meditation practices. It is recommended to do some research before buying a Buddha statue, as they come in various styles that stem from different belief systems and cultures.
Candles and Incense for Meditating
When you meditate in a calming space, you are more likely to have better quality sessions. Candles can create a greater sense of serenity, as can incense. When it comes to candles you can pick anything that strikes your fancy, though if you plan to use incense as well then non-scented candles would be ideal so not to contaminate the healing aroma of the smoke. As for incense, most Buddhist monks burn Frankincense or Sandalwood. If you want to keep things as pure and natural as possible, you can buy high-quality incense that doesn’t use perfumes or unnatural oils. You can also add an incense holder made from a natural material like soapstone or a type of wood.
Finding Yourself Through Meditation has no Rulebook
If some of your goals are to form an authentic loving relationship with yourself, others, and the universe, meditating can be an ideal way to help move you closer to achieving your goals. Deciding to meditate is a big commitment, and requires a lifestyle change if you wish to do it in a way most likely to give maximum results. There are also other things you can do in addition to meditating to achieve a greater understanding of yourself and the world around you, such as working with a life coach, eating only healthy all-natural foods, and steering clear from negative people and influences.