In this guide, we look at getting started with mindfulness meditation techniques for beginners.
If you’re just getting started with mindfulness as a beginner, you might wonder what the craze is all about. Why is it one of the fastest-growing health practices of the past decade? What will you get out of it?
There are so many amazing benefits of mindfulness meditation for beginners to look forward to. It will make you relaxed, happier, and less anxious. Just take a look at my article on the best meditation exercises for kids and adults to see what it’s all about.
2 Basic Mindfulness Meditation Techniques For Beginners
When you’re just getting started with mindfulness as a beginner you might wonder just what the heck the practice actually is. It is basically living in the present moment.
When we talk about being mindful we mean living in the present moment non-judgmentally. It is about perceiving things as they are. That is the core principle for beginners to understand.
So let’s think about what it means.
Most of the time, we are stuck in our heads, lost in thoughts. And we tend to think of those thoughts are real. We don’t see things for what they are; we see our delusional perception of reality.
Mindfulness is the opposite. When we are being mindful, we are focusing on the thing that we are doing at any given time. For instance, when being mindful of the breath, we are focusing solely on the breath. And if we do think thoughts, we remind ourselves that it is just a thought and not reality. When you’re getting started, simply focus on the present moment.
GreaterGood explains that it is about “Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”
So what it means is this: focusing on the present moment and having a clear perception of reality.
There are many ways we can do this, including:
- Exercises like yoga
- Breathing techniques
- Meditation [beginners guide below]
- Conscious eating
2 Types of Mindfulness
Mindfulness means two things. It means living in the moment. And it also refers to the specific mindfulness mediation technique. The term mindfulness is categorised by two terms: state and trait.
Dispositional (trait) mindfulness: Dispositional mindfulness refers to a general conscious awareness and non-judgmental attitude.
State mindfulness: State mindfulness refers to the actual practice of meditating.
There are benefits of both these types of mindfulness meditation techniques for beginners, and I am sure you will find both methods very relaxing.
As a meditation teacher, I often teach beginners mindfulness meditation techniques before I teach other methods. There are two different types that I teach to novices. The first is a straightforward script you can use to get started. The second is an extension of the first and helps you to go further in the process.
To start, let me teach you my beginner’s meditation, which will help you to live in the present moment and to let go of unwanted thoughts.
Before you start this technique, you will want to read my article on meditating properly for beginners.
Once you’ve read that guide, follow the simple instructions below.
1: Close your eyes. Do not cram your eyes together. Make sure your eyes are very relaxed and that they are at rest. They should be gently closed.
2: Breathe through your nose. You might like to take a few deep breaths just to relax. Then allow your breathing to come naturally and to be gentle and smooth.
3: Focus on your breath coming through your nose. Begin to observe the sensations of your breath moving through your nose. As a beginner, it may be a challenge at first. That’s fine. Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders. Just gently return your focus to the breath.
4: Count to 108 breaths. 108 is a sacred number. We usually take this number of breaths when we meditate. You might feel rushed to get to the end. That’s normal. Remind yourself that your idea of rushing is just a thought, and any feelings are just feelings. Then continue to focus.
When you’re just getting into it, you might struggle to get to 108 breaths. You might get distracted. That’s normal for a novice. Don’t be frustrated; be glad that you started mindfulness. Next time you will make it to 108 breaths.
Above I shared an easy mindfulness meditation technique for beginners. Now it’s time for the proper Buddhist technique. Beginners can do this too. Just go slowly. And if you would like to learn more, read my guide to Buddhist meditations.
Here’s the script.
1: Sit comfortably with good posture. You can sit on a special cushion, on the floor, park bench, wherever you like. Just make sure you’re comfortable.
2: Place your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Let your wrists drop so that your hands are placed gently on your lap. You can choose to adopt one of the meditation mudras if you like. What matters is that you are comfortable.
3: Drop your chin and let your gaze drift softly downwards.
4: Your eyes: You can choose to have your eyes open, to let your eyelids drop so your eyes are partially closed (three quarters closed is good,) or to completely close your eyes. But do not focus on your vision.
5: Relax for a few minutes.
6: Focus on your breathing. There are lots of different types of breathing meditations. The best is to simply focus on your breath moving through your nose This will help you to relax.
7: Focus your mind on your breathing. Pay particular attention to how your breath flows between your lips and through your nose.
8: At times, you will notice that your focus wanders. This is inevitable. When this happens, simply relax and gently bring your focus back to your breathing. When thoughts arise, accept them. Do not try obstruct them back and do not judge them. Just observe them and let them come and go.
9: When you feel that you need to move, or you get an itch, take a moment just to sit still. Then consciously decide to move. It’s important that you consciously decide to move as this will train your mind to be inwardly still.
10 : Ending: At the end of your practice, open your eyes and lift your gaze. Sit still and be consciously aware of the sounds around you. Notice any feelings in your body. Notice any thoughts. Take a moment and consciously decide to carry on with your day.
If you want to take your practice further and develop the habit, Mindful recommends getting a buddy to practice with.
How To Continue Learning Mindfulness
If you tried the beginner’s mindfulness meditation scripts above, you’ve already started to relax, and you might wonder how to continue. Do you want to go further? If so, here are the best books for 2020.
Alternatively, you might like to learn from a CD or DVD.
One thing I recommend when you’re starting is to use some reminders.
A famous quote says, “Mindfulness is easy. Remembering is the hard part”.
Remembering is actually at the heart of the practice. The very word itself, translated from its original Pali, means Remembering.
Above we looked at two types of mindfulness meditation for beginners. Those exercises will help you to relax. But you will probably forget to be mindful sooner or later.
Forgetting to be mindful is the beginners biggest problem. You will probably find you lose focus quickly. You get distracted. Thankfully it gets better with practice. But even then: your focus varies day by day.
Have you ever experienced days when you were living in your mind? Days when you weren’t paying attention to what was happening around you? At those times, you might say you were mindless. You were ignoring reality and focusing only on your thoughts. Did you notice how you started to feel negative / sad/ anxious / stressed at those times?
When you are mindless, you are much more likely to experience negative emotions. That’s why the practice is so valuable, because it trains us to live in the present moment. And one of the best ways to do that is with an app like Calm or Headspace.
Using apps and reminders will help you to remember to practice and to stay mindful throughout the day. Make sure you find opportunities in your day to practice. For instance, by being mindful at work.
In this mindfulness beginners guide, you’ve learned two great types of mindfulness. And you’ve learned how being mindful can help you in life. I’d love to hear your comments on my article.
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Mindfulness video by Sauna Sapiro at TedX
Mindful.org Magazine full of tips and articles.
Explanation of the practice by University of California, Berkley.
Benefits of the method by the American Psychological Association.