Meditation is a way for us to connect to ourselves as well as the world around us in a better, more thoughtful way. It’s impossible to narrow its benefits to one thing—it allows us to seek clarity, improve mental health, be more mindful, calm down, and much, much more.
The most important thing about starting a meditation journey is acknowledging that it is just that: a journey. You’re probably not going to be able to sit on a wood floor with your legs crossed and find ultimate peace and nirvana on your first try.
There are many different types of meditation for beginners, but we’re going to recommend that you start with guided meditation. Guided meditations are those in which you follow someone’s voice in an audio recording. They tell you when to breathe, what to think about, where to put your hands, you name it. It takes the pressure away from you to sit quietly and fight with your brain for some peace. Chuze’s Director of Education and Culture, Farel Hruska, has developed a series of meditations as part of our on-demand wellness platform. This specific meditation is for mindfulness, but try not to worry about the type of meditation you need to do—absolutely any type will help. All you have to do is take a seat, click the link, and follow her calming words.
Once you’ve worked through a couple of these guided meditations, you may decide that you’d like to take your practice to the next level. The beauty of meditating is that we can do it absolutely anywhere, at work, on a park bench, at the mall, you name it.
Mindfulness meditations where you focus on the breath are a great way to get started on your own. Breathing meditations actually stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is a technical way of saying that deep breathing helps your body chill out. Your breath is always with you, so meditating on it is an accessible way to relax at any time.
After taking a few deep breaths, all you’re going to do is count. Inhale deeply while counting to 7, and then exhale slowly, counting to 11 (or inhaling to 3 and exhaling to 5 if the 7/11 method feels too long). When you breathe, make sure that you’re pushing air into your stomach (this is often called “belly breathing”) rather than your upper chest.
It can be helpful to choose the amount of time you want to spend meditating beforehand and set a timer on your phone. That will keep your mind from wandering to “how much longer should I be doing this?” thoughts and allow you to focus on your breathing.
When you’re ready to get started, find a comfortable seat. This could be on the floor in that criss-cross-applesauce position. It could also be in your favorite chair, on the edge of your bed, or even lying down if that’s your jam. If you are upright, do your best to sit up straight with your head over your heart and your heart over your pelvis. This does not have to look perfect.
Your brain is wired to take in and contemplate changing information 24/7, so it’s no surprise that your mind may constantly slip away from meditating, especially as you’re getting started. The key to meditation, though, is that moment where our mind slips, and we get to think, “Hey, let’s consider that thought later, right now, we’re meditating.” that thought is the work of mindfulness, and that’s precisely what you should be striving for. Every stray thought is an opportunity to retrain your brain to focus on the moment and task at hand.
You don’t have to meditate all day for it to work. The most important thing is that you’re meditating consistently to keep your brain trained to remain calm and mindful. 30-minute daily meditation practice is excellent, but a 10-minute one is plenty, and a 5-minute meditation will surely do. If it feels like too much, it is, and you’re far better off doing 5 minutes a day than one hour once a week.
Meditation is an excellent way to find balance, peace, and a connection with ourselves in a world that tells us to move faster and faster each and every day. Get started with our tips and advice, and let the journey to meditation find you.