Would you like to learn how to meditate?
Meditation has been shown to improve health and well-being in so many ways. Studies demonstrate that it can improve brain function, reduce cravings, strengthen the immune system, reduce anxiety and anger, bring high blood pressure down, and even reduce physical pain.
Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, and it’s completely FREE. So why don’t more people do it?
I think a lot people don’t bother learning how to meditate, as it can often be thought of as very mysterious or difficult in many ways. But in reality, it’s a very simple procedure. You can learn how to meditate in a few minutes and fit it easily into your daily routine.
So I’ve put together a basic video guide to help you learn how to meditate.
How to meditate – beginner’s guide
If you’d prefer to download the audio MP3 guide, here’s the link:
Here are just a few of the many studies that demonstrate the beneficial effects of meditation:
11 benefits of meditation
Positive effect of meditation on brain and immune function
Reduction in depression
Reduction of physical pain
Reduction of high blood pressure,
Improvement of cognitive development in children
Reduction in cravings for food, cigarettes and alcohol
Improvement of brain functioning in children
Decrease in symptoms of ADHD
Reduction of aggression, social anxiety and stress levels in children
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How to get started with meditation
It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy lives. So much to do… and time seems to speed up as each day goes by. Unless we consciously make a space in our day to start a new habit, it simply will not get done, no matter how good our intentions are.
Set some time aside each day
So it’s important to decide on the right time for you to practice your daily meditation. For me, first thing in the morning is perfect, as it ensures I’ll ‘get it done’ before the busy-ness of the day takes over.
To begin, get into a comfortable position.
You could sit on the floor cross–legged, or you could use a chair if this is easier for you.
Sit with a straight back, and with both feet on the floor. Avoid lying down, to avoid dropping off to sleep.
If you have any physical issues that prevent you from sitting upright, then just rest in whatever position is comfortable for you.
Set a timer for 5 minutes to begin with.
You may think this is a very short time, but you’ll be surprised at how long it can seem once you get started. Resist the temptation to peek at the clock!
Once you feel settled and comfortable, start the timer then close your eyes. From then on, try not to move throughout the process. You may feel little feelings of discomfort coming up from time to time, but try not to pay them any attention – this is all part of the journey.
Watching the breath
The simplest way to learn how to meditate is to start by ‘watching your breath’.
Bring your awareness into your body and start to observe your breath as it enters and leaves the body.
‘Watch’ the breath as it flows in… and out.
You may notice the breath start to slow down as you relax. If it helps you to focus, you could say to yourself ‘in’ as you breathe in, and ‘out’ as you breathe out.
Counting the breath
Or, if you prefer, you could count each breath. Count up to 4 breaths, then start again at 1.
After a while (in approximately 3 and a half seconds probably…), your attention will begin to wander.
Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. As soon as you notice your thoughts begin to drift away to anything other than your breath, just gently bring them back.
Don’t chastise yourself or decide it’s all a waste of time; just remain patient and say to yourself, ‘oh, look, my thoughts have drifted.. ok let’s get back to the breath now’.
And then start again, watching the breath, saying to yourself ‘in… out’, or counting 1 – 4.
30 second excerpt from my meditation practice
This process will repeat many many times throughout your practice! To give you an idea of how my meditations usually go, here’s a 30 second excerpt:
In… out… in… out… in… ou….did I leave the stove on?… in… out… in…my nose is itchy… in… out… in…out…. feel a bit thirsty.. in..out… in…out… in… what’s the name of that guy out of that movie we watched last night… in.. out.. in…out… should have put socks on, my feet are freezing… in … out….take it eeeeeaaasy, take it eeeeeasy.. don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you craaaazy….what a great tune…. in….out…
Do you get the picture? Things will continually pop into your head as your restless monkey-mind tries to resist being tamed. And that’s OK. Just let those thoughts float on out of your mind and keep patiently bringing yourself back to the task in hand.
Establish a routine and stick to it
Once you learn how to meditate and establish a daily routine, gradually increase the time until you’re doing it for 20 minutes.
You’ll start to notice the benefits very quickly, with a clearer mind, sharper focus, and a noticeable increase in your general well-being.
This heightened self-awareness has an influence on your whole life, including eating habits, motivation levels, sleep patterns, relationships, and so much more.
If you’d prefer a guided meditation (one where I talk you through it with some visualisations to keep your mind focused) then watch the video above.
Want personal support in learning how to meditate to help with a specific issue such as anxiety, anger, or weight loss? Then get in touch to make a booking with me. If you’re in the Glasgow area we can work together in person, or if you’re further afield we can meet using online video such as Skype/Zoom, or via telephone.
Lisa Murphy is a counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Glasgow who specialises in anxiety, anger management, and weight loss.