Ah, meditation. The one word that everyone keeps telling you is the answer to your problems. Meditation for improved mental health.
Feeling anxious? Try meditation.
Trouble sleeping? Try meditation.
Back pain? Try meditation.
Just got rejected? Try meditation!
If you’re reading this you’ve probably heard some variation of the above. And you’re either thinking one of two things:
“But does meditation actually work?”
“Ok, ok. I believe you. But I don’t know where to begin ….”
If you’re in the first category, know that YES…meditation can actually help many aspects of your health from anxiety and depression too, yes, rejection and overall improved health.
Meditation stimulates the parasympathetic system of your body. This system is commonly referred to as the “rest and digest” system.
And aptly named so, as it promotes rest and relaxation in your body (allowing your body to focus on tasks such as digestion) through deep breathing and focusing your mind on the present moment.
If you’re in the second category…well, you’re not the only one! Many people hear the benefits of meditating and often seek it out for mental health purposes but don’t really know where to begin.
It can be intimidating. And it can feel like you’re doing it wrong if your mind is constantly drifting to random thoughts.
The truth is that meditation is for everyone. Even for beginners like you. Even for those of you who have trouble keeping your mind clear of thoughts. Check out our article about the best meditation app which analyzes the best meditation apps on the market so you can start your practice in no time.
In this article, we share how to start meditation for improved mental health if you’re a beginner or feel intimidated.
Because, honestly, meditation has so many benefits that everyone should experience first hand.
Alright, let’s get to it!
1: There is no RIGHT way to meditate. Repeat after us: there is no right way to meditate.
Yes, as simple as it sounds, the first step to start meditating if you’re a beginner is to realize that there’s no right way to meditate.
It can seem like you need pro material or a studio pass.
But you don’t. You need a fancy studio. Or special cushions. Or to be in a special posture or form.
You just need YOU and somewhere comfortable to sit. This will be especially helpful when you’re starting out, as you’ll be able to focus on the simple act of meditation and not worry about being perfect.
You can meditate on your couch, on the floor, on a cushion, and even lie down.
The important part of meditation is engaging your mind in present mindfulness.
This brings us to…
2: It’s ok if your thoughts wander during meditation. Simply bring your focus back.
Yep, you read that right. Meditation isn’t about keeping your mind a blank canvas…
While meditation does urge you to keep your mind “blank,” it’s actually totally normal to have your thoughts wander.
Even people who meditate regularly struggle with this from time to time.
Think of it like this: meditation is more about practicing being present. While keeping your mind blank is definitely important, recognizing when your mind has drifted and bringing your focus back gently to the present moment is part of being present.
So if you have a thought like: “Wait, is it my turn to do the dishwasher today?”
Accept it, breath into it (using deep belly breaths), and as you exhale: let go of it.
Being gentle to yourself and accepting these thoughts as they pop up is just as important in practicing mindful meditation as being present. In fact, acceptance of these thoughts helps you to be mindful.
3: Try guided meditations for mental health now!
Once you’ve gotten into a healthy mindset using the tips above, it’s time to put it into practice.
Now you may be facing another roadblock: how do I physically start practicing meditation? And what type or kind of meditation should I be doing?
You may be feeling overwhelmed by all sorts of meditation types you’ve heard.
So if you’re a beginner: keep it simple. Mental health meditations will help you achieve whatever goal you decide.
Start with guided meditations. When you’re starting out, you usually don’t really know what to do with your body or mind. And you need someone to guide you.
Guided meditations involve a narrator guiding you through the process of getting into a comfortable position to getting into a mindful state.
And they usually remind you to bring your thoughts gently back to the present moment. Just like we discussed in the previous point.
Guided meditations are available through the internet and through apps like ours.
Our meditation app offers helpful guided meditations that will gently tell you what to do so that you’re no longer confused about what to do during meditation. It can be a helpful place to start and is free to download.
Once you’re comfortable with the process of meditating you can move on to silent meditations.
Silent meditations are, as the name suggests, silent. Are they good meditations for mental health?
They usually rely on the meditator (i.e: you) to get into a position and mindset for meditation on their own.
If you’re starting out and you know no idea what to do with your body or mind, this can be daunting.
This is why having guiding meditations can be helpful!
But if you’re comfortable enough, you can, of course, try silent meditations. Our app also has silent, or unguided, meditations to help you get started.
4: Pencil in a specific time and day for your meditation
Ok, you’ve got the mindset, you’ve got the app or resource for guided meditations…now you need to put it all into action.
Sometimes, even though you fully intend on doing something…you forget.
We’re human after all. Our memory, although strong, isn’t 100% reliable.
The best way to make sure you get in that meditation session is to schedule it into your calendar.
Making it concrete, real tangible thing by scheduling it will make you less likely to forget.
Plus, even if you do, your calendar will remind you.
Hold on though. Before you start penciling it in, think about the best time to meditate for your schedule.
Incorporating a new habit can be tough sometimes. So don’t try to force yourself into waking up at 4 am just to meditate if that’s not your usual waking time.
Look at what your schedule looks like and pick a time and place that is convenient. Make it work for you.
Even if you only have 5-10 minutes for meditation. In fact, starting off with a small duration like 5 minutes can be enough to reap the benefits of meditation. And it’s less daunting too, as a beginner!