Meditation can be a daunting prospect when you’re a beginner – I totally get it, I’ve been there. But the great thing about a meditation practice is that it gets easier and will come more naturally with time.
When I first attempted to meditate I was clueless and I found the whole process more frustrating than it was relaxing. Fast forward to now and I can close my eyes and take myself into a meditative state whenever I want with little to no effort!
If you want to start a practice but don’t know where to begin, try implementing the following beginners meditation guide and you’ll get there in no time!
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Benefits of Meditation
The first barrier you might come across is knowing why you’re meditating. If you don’t have a clear reason to meditate and an awareness of the practice, you’re gonna struggle to make the practice a part of your life.
Let’s start by making ourselves aware of the many amazing benefits of meditation. These might just serve as a helpful reminder of why you want to prioritize this practice!
- Meditation reduces stress
- Meditation decreases anxiety
- Meditation improves depression
- Meditation makes you feel more positive
- Meditation improves immune function
- Meditation improves your focus and attention
- Meditation improves your memory
- Meditation improves immune function
- Meditation decreases pain
- Meditation helps you feel more spiritually connected
And these are just some of the amazing benefits of meditation - try this practice to see more benefits for yourself!
Types of Meditation
Did you know that not all meditations are one in the same? There are actually several different types of meditation, and you may find that you favour some styles over others. Here are some of the most common types of meditation…
Concentration meditation is perhaps one of the most commonly practiced forms of meditation and is, in my opinion, a great style for beginners.
It involves bringing your attention towards one thing - this could be an object, your breath or a mantra. This style of meditation requires you to focus on this throughout the duration of your meditation, bringing your awareness back to it every time it wanders.
Mindfulness meditation is similar to concentration meditation in that you have a point of focus. However, mindfulness meditation is more about the awareness of your own inner experiences right NOW.
During mindfulness meditation the goal is to bring non judgmental awareness to your own thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations. This is a great way to cultivate self-awareness and learn to be in the present moment.
This is, again, a great meditation for beginners! I will be guiding you through a combination of concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation later in this post!
Transcendental meditation is a structured form of meditation that involves silently repeating a mantra for 20 minutes twice a day.
Unlike mindfulness meditation which is focused in the present moment, the goal of transcendental meditation is to transcend thought completely in order to enter a state of “pure awareness”.
This is an amazing technique to deepen your meditation practice and connect to your soul self. This is not a style that I would recommend for complete beginners!
Zen meditation, or Zazen, is a style of spiritual meditation that is rooted in Buddhist tradition. It involves cultivating a state of awareness and attention by focusing inward.
This requires a great deal of focus because, unlike concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation, it does not involve focusing on a specific thing. It is therefore best to progress onto Zazen once you have learnt how to focus the mind and turn inward using mindfulness meditation first!
Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving kindness meditation is a type of meditation with the goal of increasing compassion, forgiveness, self acceptance and a deeper connection to others.
This type of meditation is unique in that it involves focusing on others, as well as yourself. You will use techniques such as visualisation and affirmations in order to send love to yourself and others.
This is a very transformative form of meditation that is perfect for anybody who struggles with feelings of negativity or resentment!
Chakra meditation uses techniques that focus on opening and balancing a single chakra or multiple chakras. This often involves the use of affirmations and visualisation techniques.
This a great meditation to try if you feel like you’re suffering from symptoms specifically related to a blocked chakra. But this school of thought is not for everybody and may not be your cup of tea as a beginner meditator!
Related: 20 Powerful Sacral Chakra Affirmations for Healing
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How to do Meditation at Home Step by Step
I promise that getting started with meditation doesn’t have to be a daunting thing! Follow this beginners guide to meditation and you will be meditating in no time!
1. Stop making excuses
The first step to starting a meditation practice is to stop making excuses. Motivation can play a big part in starting any new habit, and us humans are great at finding excuses (guilty!).
But stop and ask yourself, what purpose does this really serve? If you want to start a meditation practice, then go ahead and start it! In reality, you have a choice.
Do you choose to take the steps needed to grow, or do you choose to sit around and make excuses? It’s up to you!
2. Allocate a time
Now you have (hopefully) made the commitment to start your meditation practice, it’s time to allocate a time to start!
To begin, make a date with yourself in your diary. It’s that simple! It doesn’t even have to be a big appointment - even just ten minutes!
Why is this step so important? Because when we actually set an appointment and it’s put in writing, we’re more likely to follow through.
It’s all too easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” and keep repeating this statement until the end of time… but that’s exactly what we’re not going to do! Instead, try something like “I’ll do it Wednesday at 9.30am”. Commit to yourself.
3. Set up your space
While meditation can be done anywhere, I find it helps to have a space set up that makes you feel calm, relaxed and in the zone.
If you don’t already have a sacred space in your home where you like to meditate, some small changes can transform any space. For example, lighting a candle, some incense or diffusing some essential oils can bring calming aromas into your space. You may also choose to dimly light the room with a himalayan salt lamp, which is also great for clearing negative energy!
If you’re looking for items to transform your space into a meditation haven, check out these meditation gifts for mindfulness!
Choose something to sit on
An essential feature in your meditation space is something to sit on! While you can sit on your bed, it helps to get in the zone if you have a specific seat for meditation only. Here are some popular options…
Zafu meditation cushion
The most common choice for meditation is a zafu meditation cushion. These are designed to cushion the buttocks and gently tilt the pelvis for better spinal alignment! They also help to reduce pain, numbness and leg cramps, which are a common barrier to relaxation in meditation.
For those that find meditation cushions uncomfortable, a meditation bench is a great option! They may be slightly more expensive but they are well worth it for the comfort they provide that allows you to relax fully during meditation. Many meditators claim that a meditation bench is a game changer!
There is no shame in sitting in a chair if you find that meditation cushions and benches aren’t comfortable enough for your own personal practice. You can use any chair that you find comfortable or a specific meditation chair if you wish!
4. Get comfortable
Now that you have your meditation space set up, one thing I must stress is that you’re going to want to be comfortable during your practice. There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable during meditation and wanting to fidget.
Start by putting on some comfy clothes - we’re talking yoga pants, sweatpants, pyjamas or even nude! Just trust me when I say you don’t want to meditate in jeans…
How to sit
Remember you’re sitting for an extended period of time, so don’t force yourself into an uncomfortable position just because it looks the part! Sit in a way that feels comfortable for you.
I tend to sit in a standard crossed legged position because my hips aren’t open enough for some of the other postures. If you want to try some alternative seated postures I go into more detail about these in my free eBook!
5. Choose a point of focus
As previously mentioned, the key of concentration meditation is to choose a point of focus. Set an intention to bring your awareness to one point of focus for the duration of your meditation.
This can be your breath, a mantra, a sound or maybe even a candle flame!
6. Set a timer
When you’re first starting a meditation practice, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to sit for 30 minutes without feeling bored.
In the same way that you train your body for a marathon, you need to train your mind for meditation!
In the same way that you train your body for a marathon, you need to train your mind for meditation!
Start by setting a timer for 5 minutes. Each time you meditate you can increase the time until you can meditate for longer periods with ease.
The free 30 day challenge tracker included in my free eBook is designed to help you increase the time you can sit and meditate for!
7. Close your eyes or relax your gaze
Many beginner meditators choose to close their eyes, but don’t feel like you have to. Another option is to gently relax your gaze and look downwards. There is no right or wrong way, just as long as you feel relaxed!
8. Let your thoughts pass
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about meditation is that it is about not having thoughts. While this may be the case for some forms of meditation such as transcendental meditation, this is definitely not the case with mindfulness meditation!
This can be a big factor that puts people off of starting a meditation practice, and the irony here is that the more you try not to think, the more you think… am I right?!
That’s why one of my biggest beginners meditation tips is not to try and fight thoughts. Instead, acknowledge any thoughts you have and let them pass. Don’t hold any judgment about what should be going on in your mind, just let it be.
9. Come back to your focus when your mind wanders
At the same time, don’t get sucked up in your thoughts either. If you find yourself getting distracted then gently bring your awareness back to your point of focus to return to the present moment.
This is a great way to practice self discipline and develop more control over your mind!
10. Notice how you feel
A great way to finalise your meditation practice is to evaluate how you feel afterwards. Bring your attention to any challenges that came up for you during your practice and note any areas that you might want to focus on in your next practice.
My free beginners meditation guide eBook contains printable meditation journal pages that will help you develop more awareness over your practice and progress forwards with positivity!
11. Practice, practice, practice!
To experience the amazing benefits of meditation, a regular practice is key. Make it your goal to schedule in regular appointments with yourself to develop your meditation skills.
Other Meditation Techniques for Beginners
If you find the previous steps aren’t enough to get you into a meditative state, you might wish to try some of these beginners meditation techniques! These techniques are a great way to get you into a relaxed or meditative state a little bit easier. Think of them as little meditation hacks!
Body scans are an amazing tool for encouraging mindful awareness of your physical body.
Simply bring your awareness to one part of your body and notice any sensations that are going on for you there, without judgment. Continue moving through each part of your body until you have “scanned” the whole body.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation
Progressive muscular relaxation is one of my favourite tools to relax the body. If you suffer from tension and tightness then this technique might be perfect for you!
Similar to a body scan, you run through each of your body parts. However, with this technique you squeeze the body part as hard as you can before allowing it to relax completely.
This method allows you to relax your muscles and ease tightness in areas you might not have been aware of previously!
You have probably heard that tuning into your breath is an important factor in meditation. But how should you breathe while meditating?
For me personally, inhaling and exhaling through my nose only (mouth closed) is essential to relaxing in meditation.
You should breathe deeply, but try not to control your breath too much. Instead, bring your awareness to it without attachment. For instance, you could try counting your in-breath and out-breath, or bring attention to the rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe.
Awareness of the breath is probably the least effortful way to practice being in the present moment. After all, breathing is essential!
If I had to pick one tip that solidified my meditation practice, it would be this one.
Binaural beats provide two different sounds to each of your ears (you need to listen with headphones), which causes your brain to tune to a certain frequency. Cool, huh?!
By listening to theta wave binaural beats - the frequency associated with a deep meditative state - you can take yourself into that state with little effort. This article talks about how binaural beats can be a great shortcut in your meditation practice!
Before I tried binaural beats I had never entered a meditative state, and I would just sorta sit there wondering what the meditation hype was all about…? But when I used theta waves for the first time I was blown away - I quite literally felt like I was floating!
Although I no longer listen to binaural beats very often (I prefer other types of meditation music), this technique allowed me to access a state of meditation that I can now access on my own!
Guided meditation can be another amazing tool for allowing you to access a state of meditation when you’re new to the practice. Having another person’s voice guiding you through different techniques can be so helpful when you don’t really know what you’re doing.
Try listening to the same guided meditation on separate occasions and you should eventually be able to practice that meditation without the guidance!
I would recommend finding a meditation where the teacher has a voice that you find soothing… because if you’re anything like me then certain voices can become very distracting!
Having them saved on your device means that you can practice meditation anytime and anywhere!
Common Obstacles for Beginners
It would be naive to think that beginner meditators don’t come across challenges when getting started. And to tell you a secret… even experienced meditators do!
Here are some common obstacles and what you can do to solve them!
Finding the time
The most common (and dare I say worse) excuse is “I don’t have time to meditate”. Now I don’t mean to be blunt, but I’ve gotta shoot this down straight away…
The truth is, if you have time to scroll through social media, or indeed read this blog post, then you definitely have time to meditate!
Everything in life is about priorities. If you want to meditate, you can find the time to meditate. If you don’t really want to, you’ll make excuses.
Plus, the great thing about meditation is that it can calm your mind in a way that can actually improve your productivity. So when you think about it this way, there really is no excuse not to spare a tiny segment of your day to this practice!
Feeling sleepy is a common effect of meditation, because it can take us into such a relaxed state. We don’t however want to feel so sleepy that we… fall asleep.
My advice to combat this would be to change the time of day that you practice. If you find that meditating first thing in the morning or last thing at night makes you prone to falling asleep, try meditating in the middle of the day instead.
I’d also avoid laying down. While you want to be comfortable during meditation, you don’t want to be too comfortable. It’s advised to sit up with a straight spine - this allows for optimal energy flow, while also ensuring you're much less likely to fall asleep.
Distractions are common for beginner meditators, and even more practiced meditators - we’re all human, after all!
My advice would be not to beat you up if you feel yourself getting distracted. Not every session will be a good session, and that’s okay. In time you will learn how to deal with these distractions and move through them.
To minimise distractions as much as possible, it’s helpful to have a time and a space allocated to your practice where you know nobody will disturb you. Turn off all electronics and maybe consider getting a meditation door sign so anybody you live with knows not to disturb you!
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Frequently Asked Questions about Meditation
If you’ve made it through this beginners meditation guide and you still have unanswered questions, here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about meditation.
If you don’t see your question here, just post it in the comments below and I’ll try my best to help you out!
How often should I meditate?
The benefits of meditation definitely come with consistent practice, so ideally you want to meditate every day.
It’s not the end of the world if you miss a session, but I would advise not going more than a few days without meditating because then it’s much easier for your brain to start falling into old patterns.
To help with your meditation habit, try using the challenge tracker included in my free eBook!
When should I meditate?
I’ve seen a lot of people querying when the best time to meditate is, and there is no real answer to this. You should meditate whenever you feel suits you best.
Some people find that meditating in the morning can kickstart your day on a calm and positive note - I personally love meditating first thing because it has a knock on effect for the rest of my day.
Whereas other people find that meditating last thing at night can help you to unwind and relax before bed.
Don’t get too caught up in when you should meditate, just make sure you make the time! As time goes on you may even find yourself meditating multiple times a day!!
How long should I meditate for?
Ideally, I would suggest at least ten minutes. I say this because any shorter and it is hard to get into and experience a meditative state in that time.
My personal preference is to meditate between 20 and 40 minutes. This will change depending on the time I have available or how I’m feeling in that moment.
There is no cap for how long you should meditate… if you have the time and you’re able to sustain a meditative state for over an hour then I would say go ahead and do that!
How long does it take to learn to meditate?
I hate to say it but there is no real answer to this. Meditation is a constant practice and there is no singular moment where a meditator goes “AHA - I have learned to meditate!”
Each and every meditation session is about learning. If you see a product that promises something along the lines of “learn to meditate in 30 days”, know that it’s all marketing.
How do I know if I'm meditating right?
Again, there is no right. If you’re dedicating time to practice and following through, then you’re meditating right!
Try to remove the ego from your meditation practice. This is your own individual journey and there is no “right” or “wrong”.
If you’re somebody that likes to see results then try tracking your progress in the free tool included in my eBook! This will help you to see how much you are progressing on your journey and keep you motivated to keep going!
Can I meditate lying down?
Yes, you can meditate lying down… but it’s not advised. Why? Because you’re more likely to fall asleep!
If you can be absolutely sure that you can stay focused in your meditation and not fall asleep, then go ahead and lay down if this is more comfortable for you.
Which crystals should I meditate with?
Crystals are a great tool to add to your meditation to help raise your vibration. Particularly good crystals for helping with achieving a meditative state are amethyst and clear quartz, as they are connected to the third eye and crown chakras.
You may also wish to use targeted crystals for a particular focus, for instance during chakra meditation. For more information, check out the best crystals for each chakra!
Should I meditate before or after yoga?
When yoga originated, the postures were designed to help one sit comfortably in meditation for an extended period of time. For this reason, many practitioners choose to practice yoga before meditation.
The physical aspect of yoga has of course progressed a lot since then, and many people choose to meditate before their yoga practice because it allows them to be more relaxed and focused.
Ultimately, it depends on your own intentions and personal preference. I like to switch between the two!
Can meditation be harmful?
You may have read claims that meditation can be harmful for people suffering from mental health conditions.
I think this is a complex topic, and one I cannot comment on from a qualified perspective. However, from my own experience suffering from complex mental health conditions, I have found meditation to be extremely transformative and beneficial.
Meditation can bring repressed and uncomfortable emotions to the surface, which can result in a temporary increase in symptoms. I personally view this as a very positive process that allows one to move through emotions and grow.
With that being said, some people who feel more vulnerable may not be equipped to cope with these emotions. If you feel like you are one of those people, you may wish to avoid meditation until you feel like you’re in a more stable place. It may also be beneficial to consult with a mindfulness based therapist who can help guide you through these practices in a safe way.
Will meditation help me sleep?
Meditation can make you feel very relaxed and in turn help you sleep. However, like anything, meditation does not come with any guarantees! Try to remove any expectations you have from your practice and simply see where it takes you!
Esther Cundall is a psychology graduate and certified yoga teacher. She is the founder of the blog Hopeful Lotus, which guides readers to grow to their fullest potential using spiritual and personal growth practices. By sharing her own journey, she helps others find their own hope and heal from within.