Meditation has been around for over 5,000 years, but only now is it becoming incredibly common around the world, with more and more people starting to practice in this ancient mindfulness ritual daily.
As author, yoga and meditation practitioner, Rachel Scott told The Nutricosmetic Company, “Meditation is the process of creating space for the narratives of our mind and our experiences so that we may observe them. When we settle into the space of being a Witness, we can start to increase our capacity for moving through our daily lives with a little more grace and space. Meditation practices helps create room for us to respond, rather than react”. But, what even are the basics of meditation, what do you need to know about meditation before starting, and how can you incorporate meditation into your daily life if you’re not a mindfulness practitioner?
In this article, we’re going to give you a meditation 101, telling you everything you need to know about meditation in order to get started on your mindfulness journey, or become more informed as you move into deeper states of meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a fundamental practice of mind and body stillness, focus, and tranquillity. The practice of meditation, whether sitting, standing, doing breathwork meditating, mantra meditating, or sound meditating, focuses on clearing the mind, centering the body, and becoming more intentional and present in the moment.
Why Do People Practice Meditation?
Different people meditate for different reasons. Some people use meditation as a daily tool to align their body and mind, calm themselves, and become more present in the moment. Some use meditation specifically to deal with anxiety, high stress levels, and depression. Other people meditate precisely to engage in a spiritual or religious practice.
There doesn’t actually need to be a specific reason for someone to want to meditate or incorporate meditation into their daily lives, so don’t worry if your reason for wanting to meditate doesn’t resonate with any of the above or if you feel as if you just want to give it a go – mindfulness isn’t about ticking boxes, it’s about doing what’s right for you.
What Are The Different Ways You Can Practice Meditation?
There are several different ways that you can practice mediation, and in fact, every act can serve as a meditation if done intentionally and consciously.
The most common ways to meditate are…
Guided Meditation: This type of mediation is specifically guided, by a narrator or practitioner, to meditate. This type of mediation is most commonly done by people starting on their journey into meditation because having someone guide you through meditation can be extremely useful if you can’t seem to focus the mind or if you don’t know how to meditate.
Silent Meditation: This type of meditation is as simple as it sounds, all you do is sit on the floor or lay down in complete silence for an allotted amount of time. During this time, you should intentionally focus on breathing deeply and slowly, and if your mind wanders off, you can bring the focus back to the breath.
Walking Meditation: This type of mediation is specifically done when walking and can also be referred to as a mindful walk. This practice has its origins in Buddhism and focuses on listening to, noticing, and becoming conscious about the movements of your body.
Focused Meditation: This type of mediation requires sitting silently and focusing on one (simple) specific item that is in front of you. Whether you’re staring at a plant or a painting, spending time (15 minutes plus is recommended to really get into the meditation) intently focusing on one item can bring clarity to your mind without letting your mind wander too far away.
How Can You Get Your Mind Clear When Meditating?
Meditating is often incredibly hard for people, especially because the mind tends to wander off and thoughts about your life flood in. However, the truth is, it’s completely normal and natural for your mind to think about things when meditating, so don’t panic. When this happens, simply bring back your attention to the breath, the feeling of your body, or the voice of your guided meditation narrator.
Don’t put too much pressure on keeping your mind clear and thought-free, and if you need to, focus on one thing by doing the item focused meditation! For example, look at a particular flower and intentionally focus on it – you will find that your other thoughts drift away as you focus solely on this flower. This specific type of meditation, or guided meditation, can help you to easily clear your mind whilst meditating.
How Long Should You Meditate For?
You can meditate for as long or as little as you want, whatever works best for you. If you are just getting into meditation, try to start with a quick 10-minute meditation, and increase the time you meditate for as you feel comfortable.
How Often Should You Meditate?
Although some people can put down and pick up meditation over time, it’s most effective and much easier to do when practiced regularly. For a clear mind, a relaxed body, and a conscious way of living, try to meditate daily, or at least a couple of times a week. Once you feel confident meditating, try to bring the state of meditation into other areas of your life too – you can meditate whilst you cook, clean, or walk to the shop!
Ready To Try Meditation?
Meditation has incredible health and wellbeing benefits, from relaxing the mind, reducing stress, and boosting the mood, to lowering blood pressure levels, reducing pain, and helping regulate breathing.
So, now you know some of the basics, go ahead and give it a go, we’re sure you’ll love it and benefit from it just as much as we do. Just remember not to judge yourself too harshly if you can’t clear your mind and reach what you deem “clarity” - you have to start somewhere!