In this guide, we will be looking at how to do meditation at home for beginners. This will be a complete tutorial, so you learn how to meditate properly.
When you’re learning how to do meditation at home (as opposed to on a retreat or at a studio), you don’t have a personal teacher, so it’s imperative that you take your time to learn properly. To help you, I’ve included lots of meditation tips for beginners in this guide, as well as an FAQ. Plus, you might also like to read my beginners guide to mindfulness.
It is essential to learn how to meditate at home properly. Because you do not have a teacher, you will want to go slowly, mainly because there are some risks of meditation. I learned this one day watching the morning news. The Dalai Lama was on. He was explaining to beginners how to meditate correctly because many people do not practice proper meditation techniques.
The news reporter asked the Dalai Lama, “Can you do meditation wrong?The Dalai Lama’s eyes narrowed. He raised his hand and said “Meditation is very powerful. It must be learnt properly.” The Dalai Lama continued to explain that in the East when beginners learn to meditate, they study it alongside philosophy, history, and other aspects of culture. Meditation is just one spoke on a wheel (literally, the “Wheel of Dharma”, called DharmaChakra). And it is only when all spokes move as one that the wheel begins to turn.
What does this mean? It means that when learning how to do meditation at home, beginners need to understand all aspects of the practice. This includes the techniques, the benefits, the philosophy, the risks, and the science. So, let’s look at how to do meditation at home for beginners who want to learn the real art of mindfulness.
How To Do Meditation At Home
Meditation is a psychological exercise stemming primarily from Buddhism, although it was first mentioned in the Vedas as “dhyana” and is also mentioned in other religions including Islamic Sufism, Kabbalah, Christian Hesychasm, and the practices of Jainism like pindāstha-dhyāna. You may have heard about meditation from apps like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer, or from luminaries such as Jon Kabat Zinn, Sharon Salzberg, and Tara Brach. Or, if you’re into yoga, you might have heard about Dhyana, the method discussed in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
However, meditation is not necessarily religious or spiritual. Anyone can meditate. And probably should. Because it offers quite staggering benefits.
Some of the benefits of meditation for beginners include:
- Stress reduction
- Anxiety reduction
- Relief from depression
- Self awareness
- And, many years (or lifetimes) down the road: Enlightenment.
Many of these benefits of meditation come from the effect meditation has on the brain. It balances brain chemicals noradrenaline, cortisol, and adrenaline, increases dopamine production, reduces amygdala activity, heightens activity in the prefrontal lobe, and promotes activity of the parasympathetic nervous system according to research from the World Institute for Scientific Exploration and the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California .
Basically, meditation makes your brain work in peak condition. The benefits are real. But its important to just start meditating in easy ways without lofty ambitions. The best way to get started with meditation as a beginner is to start to be more mindful (focus on the present moment without judgment).
Mindfulness means to observe the present moment without judgment. Meditation teacher Tara Brach says that mindfulness meditation is used to “become mindful throughout all parts of our life.” It’s about observing the mind, noticing mind wandering, accepting and observing thoughts and feelings, and paying attention to the moment.”
The key is to be mindful whatever you are doing. As Zen monk and meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When sitting, sit.” In other words, pay attention to what you are doing in the present moment. This basic method of meditation has evolved over the years thanks to luminaries like Jon Kabat Zinn (creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center) but the core concept remains the same: focus on the present moment.
There are many ways to get started with meditation as a beginner. As Buddhist meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says, “Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively”.
Most beginners meditation techniques focus on the breath, although there are many different types of meditation that are seen in Buddhism, Yoga, Hinduism, Daoism, and therapy. And indeed, part of successful meditation for beginners is finding the best technique for you.
Many people like to start with guided meditations for beginners, although research from Harvard Medical School shows that beginners guided meditations aren’t nearly as powerful as traditional meditation techniques.
So what are the traditional techniques?
There many different types of meditation techniques, including:
- Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana)
- Transcendental Meditation
- Guided meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Chakra meditation
- Mindful eating
- Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
- Contemplation meditation
- Mindful movement exercises like tai chi and qigong.
These meditation techniques are generally divided into two forms, “Focused Attention” (we concentrate on one thing), and “Open Awareness” (the mind is open to all of the present moment in non-judgmental observation).
Instructions For How To Meditate At Home
- Choose a relaxing room in your house where you will not be disturbed. I personally meditate at home in my bedroom, but the living room or anywhere quiet and relaxing is fine.
- Sit with good posture [read my guide to proper meditation positions]. Your back and spine should be straight with a natural curve. Your chin should be lightly tucked down to elongate your neck. You can place your hands in a mudra such as Gyan mudra (index finger and thumb touching, other fingers lightly extended and resting, palms facing upwards, hands placed on your thighs). While there are technical positions such as the Tibetan Buddhist Vairocana position and Lotus posture, Anne Cushman (author of Moving Into Meditation) states that meditation is not a position and that no particular posture is require.
- Close your eyes
- Notice your breath moving through your nostrils. You might find it easier to focus if you count your breaths. As you progress you will naturally start to perform deep diaphragmatic breathing, but the breath should not be forced. As you continue deep breathing you will reduce amygdala activity, reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, and promote parasympathetic nervous system activity according to Mladen Golubic, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine
- Gradually expand your awareness until you are aware of the entire process of your breath moving around your body
- When thoughts or feelings occur, calmly observe them and continue to watch your breath. As in the Buddhist meditation Vipassana, you might find it helpful to label your thoughts, saying, “This is just a thought” and “This is just a feeling.” The goal is casual awareness of the present moment. You also should not be trying to change in any way. As Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher Pema Chodron says, “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” So, try to accept your own mind and its actions.
- Do not be judgmental of your practice. Don’t be self-critical. Just calmly observe what is happening in your mind. You might also notice things like tiredness, restlessness, stress, anxiety, even boredom. Just observe these mental phenomena.
- Continue to 108 breaths.
The above is a simple mindfulness meditation for beginners. When we do a basic beginners meditation technique like this, we are observing the mind. It is normal to notice that your mind is wandering, you’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future or daydreaming. Buddhists refer to this as Monkey Mind. Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind Beginners Mind, states that a large part of meditation is reducing the monk mind.
Meditation is about accepting the psychological states that you experience, and calmly returning to the present moment.
The most popular meditation technique for beginners is simply mindfulness, which is being aware of the present moment, such as in the beginners mindfulness meditation exercise we looked at above.
However, there is a difference between mindfulness and meditation. If we look at mindfulness VS meditation, mindfulness is about present moment awareness, where meditation is any technique involving deliberately focusing the mind on certain things. Meditation involves specific techniques, whereas, according Joseph Goldstein, mindfulness is “the quality and power of mind that is deeply aware of what’s happening”.
So that is an introduction to meditation for beginners. And by now you should be pretty excited about how mindfulness and meditation can help you in your own life.
The power of meditation is so great that it is increasingly being used in therapy. Although arguably this is not new. Carl Jung advocated for practices that increase mindful awareness. in the 1920s. And today, the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recognises meditation as a “mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.” The American Heart Association states that meditation is beneficial for treatment of heart conditions. And everyday we are discovering more benefits of meditation.
Basically; it’s a big deal.
So, let’s now look at how to get started with meditation for beginners.
Tips for How To Meditate At Home Properly
Because you’re learning how to do meditation at home, rather than having formal tuition, I recommend taking your time so you can learn properly. It begins with choosing a technique.
1: Choosing the correct way to meditate
There are 31 different techniques in use today. To get the benefits you are looking for, choose the right method. I recommend sticking to the easy ways when meditating at home.
Try the following method.
An Easy Meditation To Do At Home
- Sit somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably and with good posture (you do not need to sit with crossed legs if you find this uncomfortable).
- Tell yourself that you are going to be relaxing for the next 20 minutes.
- Take a few deep breaths to relax. If you have tension in your body, stretch gently.
- Begin to breathe. Count the in-breath to a count of five “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…”
- When you reach the end of your inhalation, stop for a count of two
- Now breathe out to a count of five
- Let each breath begin naturally. Do not force it. Just let your breath come and then start counting again.
- Simply focus on the sensation of your breath moving around your body.
- Continue to a total of 108 breaths.
This is a very simple way how to do meditation at home. You will find it relaxing and grounding, and it will help to quieten your mind.
If you would like to try other methods, here at the best meditations to do at home as a beginner:
- Simple breathing techniques (this one is essential)
- Elementary mantras (such as meditating on “Om”)
- Easy visualisations (such as imagining that you’re on a relaxing beach)
And of course you can always do a guided meditation. Here is the best guided meditation for beginners.
2: If your posture’s terrible, you’re meditating wrong
Because you are doing meditation at home, you do not have a teacher to correct your posture, so it is important to be mindful of how you are sitting. If your posture is awful, you are meditating wrong.
Many people ignore this tip. They believe that because the practice is primarily for the mind, the position of the body does not matter.
The reason your posture matters so much is that your mind and body are one. For instance, Elizabeth Broadbent Ph.D., tells us that where a slumped position reduces focus, good posture “can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task, and make you feel more confident in your thoughts” .
The way you hold your body has a direct influence on your state of mind. If you try slouching, your mind will feel sluggish. If you try standing tall, your mind will feel sharp. There is a direct relationship between mind and body.
Many people who meditate at home practise in bed or while sitting on the couch. Bad idea. Instead, sit on a specific cushion or on the floor, with good posture.
You don’t need to sit crossed-legged if you don’t find it comfortable. What matters is that your posture makes you feel grounded and that you have proper spinal alignment. You will know when you have the right position because you will feel balanced and focused.
The traditional meditation positions are:
- Lying [in Savasana or “Corpse Pose”]
- Walking [Kinhin]
3: Proper Meditative Breathing For Beginners
Your mom always told you to “Watch your mouth”. And she was right. Because the best way how to meditate for beginners is to watch your breath coming and going through your mouth.
When you’re just learning how to do meditation at home, you will probably concentrate on the various breath-based methods. Proper breathing is essential to proper technique. When you meditate correctly, your breath will come from your diaphragm, and it will be relaxed and rooted. Your breath might be quick in the beginning, but it will slow down and deepen as you meditate.
Interesting fact: In 2003, Harvard scientists studied a group of ten meditators and discovered that their respiratory rates were much lower than non-meditators. This lower respiratory rate is indicative of lungs that are working more efficiently, and of a calm and relaxed body and mind. If you find you breathe slower when meditating, that’s perfect. But don’t force it. The best way to do meditation at home is just to let your breath be and calmly observe it. As you relax, your breathing will become deep and diaphragmatic, but not because you’re pushing it, rather because you are relaxing (when you are relaxed you naturally breathe properly).
However, this does not mean that you should force the breath. Lodro Rinzler, a Buddhist meditation teacher and co-founder of MNDFL in New York City says that, “We encourage people to relax with the breath as is because the intention is to become familiar with all of who you are and what is happening right now, as opposed to what we wish might happen..”
4: Where to meditate at home
Make sure you have a proper meditation space at home. Your space should be a specially designated spiritual space.
The rules for spaces are:
- Must be peaceful
- Should be quiet
- Should be conducive to both relaxation and focus
- Have as few distractions as possible
For your home meditation practice, meditate in the same space and reserve that space specifically for your practice.
If you have ever visited a nature reserve, you will know why it’s important to preserve certain spaces. You can feel the energy of a nature reserve the moment you enter it. It’s pure, wild, natural, a beautiful space that immediately conjures feelings of freedom and tranquillity. The same is true for Zen spaces. Over time your space will become a sanctuary filled with spiritual energy. You will enter the room and immediately feel purity, tranquillity, and warmth because you have preserved the purity of the space.
5: Developing a daily habit
A lot of people ask me how to meditate daily. For beginners, it can be hard to get into the habit of meditating at home. I recommend that you keep your home meditation practice to a specific time of day. When you know that at 6 am you’re going to get up, enter your Zen space, and focus on your breath for twenty minutes, you create a habit.
Richard Davidson [professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds] states that the benefits of meditation can be gleaned in as little as 8 minutes daily.
6: To meditate properly, change your attitude
It is impossible to meditate properly if you have the wrong view. The correct meditation attitude is one of non-judgment. To meditate properly, you need to let go of your judgmental mind and accept things as they are—especially yourself. Too many beginners fail to understand that to meditate correctly, you cannot judge what you’re doing as good or bad, right or wrong. Instead, let go. Have a nonjudgmental attitude.
When you’re not sure how to meditate, you often get distracted during your practice. You’re thinking to yourself, “Am I meditating correctly? Is this right? Is that right? etc.” And these unwanted thoughts, ironically, prevent you from meditating the right way. That’s why you should adopt a nonjudgmental attitude and just go with it.
In Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says, “With the mindfulness attitude of non-judging, we find a more effective way of handling the stress in our lives. “.
7: On Buddhist methods
Performing Buddhist meditation at home requires more than just mindfulness. In Buddhism, meditative exercises are just one part of a much bigger practice. If you want to do Buddhist meditations properly, you need to understand the philosophy of Buddhism.
Proper meditation in the Buddhist tradition requires discipline and patience. It isn’t a case of “sit down and focus on your breath”. It involves study and gradual development.
8: How To Know You Are Meditating Correctly
As a meditation teacher, lots of people ask me how to tell if you’re meditating correctly. This is a trickier question than it seems. The practice is a subtle one, and it can be hard to know if you’re meditating properly (although the tips above will help).
Essentially what matters is the effect the practice has on your mind. You are the number one judge of that. To know if you’re meditating correctly, ask yourself if you feel better after your session and if it benefited you for the rest of the day. If you didn’t notice the benefits, you probably are practising the wrong way, in which case you might like to change to a different method.
Simple Ways How To Meditate At Home
In this section, we’ll look at how to do meditation at home in different rooms of your house. Try each of them and let me know which one is your favourite.
Meditate In Bed
One of the most straightforward ways to meditate at home is when you’re lying in bed. However, if you do this, you need to make sure you are meditating properly. Check you have good posture even though you are lying down. Then proceed with the steps below.
- Bring your awareness to your breath
- Take 25 mindful breaths
- Begin to notice your body and the feeling of lying down
- Let your muscles relax and let the bed take your weight.
- From here, you can either continue with a traditional technique or listen to some relaxing music.
Meditate In The Shower
This is a method I learned from Shauna Shapiro, Ph.D [Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University]. In many wys, the easiest way how to meditate at home is in the shower. Showers are relaxing and therapeutic. Just be aware that there is the possibility of falling over in the shower. Play it safe.
Follow this short tutorial:
- Start by getting the water to the right temperature.
- Make sure you’re standing tall and relaxed with good posture.
- Now begin to focus on the sound of the water coming out of the shower.
- Feel the shower water on the crown of your head and bring your awareness to that sensation.
- Move your awareness down your body, feeling the water cleaning you.
- Now focus on the steam from the water, as it enters your mouth.
- Feel that steam moving into you and cleaning you from the inside.
- Now take ten mindful breaths and say, “My mind and body are pure”.
Meditate In The Bath
Now you know how to meditate properly in the shower, let’s look at how to do it in the bath. Writing for VeryWell Mind, Elizabeth Scott, MS says, “bath meditation combines the standard benefits of meditation with the benefits of a relaxing, hot bath, which can soothe tired muscles”.
Honestly, for me, this is the absolute best way to meditate at home. Simple. Relaxing. And cleansing. Here is how to do it:
- Get in the tub
- Let your body relax and make sure your head and neck are supported.
- Make sure you’re not putting your mouth below water-level. No one’s drowning on my watch!
- Take 25 mindful breaths to relax.
- Now feel the warmth of the water around your body. Feel how your body relaxes in the water.
- Focus on the sensation of the water meeting your body, like one soft energy bubble cocooning you.
- Now slowly begin to clean your body with the soap.
- As you move your hand and the soap around your body, be mindful of the areas you touch. Ask those areas to relax
- Once you have finished, say the mantra “My mind and body are pure”.
Meditate In The Garden
Ah. The garden. One of the best places to meditate at home. Try some of these exercises:
- Create a Zen garden
- Try five-senses methods (focus on the scents, sights, and other sensory information in the garden)
- Do a slow and relaxing Zen Walk around the garden
- Pick your favourite flower and meditate on it
5 Ways To Learn How To Meditate Properly On Your Own
Now we have discussed how to do meditation at home, beginners might like to learn more. I’ve created a list of the best ways to how to learn meditation at home. Pick the one which is best for you.
1: Our free beginners meditation guide
My passion here on THE DAILY MEDITATION is to teach people how to meditate properly. That’s why I have created a massive guide showing you the top 31 ways to meditate.
It contains tons of information on how to meditate for beginners to learn. I’ve also provided guides to all the different techniques for beginners to try.
2: Take meditation lessons
You want to learn how to meditate properly, so you should probably work with a proper teacher. I personally give meditation lessons online.
It’s crucial that you find a teacher who is right for you. Otherwise, they will teach you inappropriately.
We all have individual styles of teaching that we like. And we all have our own beliefs. Some teachers are amiable and teach simple techniques. Others are more serious, religious types who will teach you not only about the techniques but the philosophy too.
Books are still one of the best ways to learn how to meditate for beginners. And there are lots of great books on meditation.
What makes books an excellent way to learn meditation at home is that they are structured. Unlike a website where you jump from one page to the next in an unstructured way, books have a clear beginning, middle and end. You progress through a book logically, so you’re always on the right step. That’s why, even in 2020, they are still one of the best ways to learn how to meditate (for beginners I recommend reading… my book! (shocker right?)) You can see it in the ad below).
Some of the best author for meditation books include:
- Jon Kabat Zinn
- Thich Nhat Hanh
- Shunryu Auzuki
- Sharon Salzberg
- Dan Harris
- Pema Chodron
- Jack Kornfield
4: Beginners Meditation Retreats
What better way how to learn to meditate properly than while on vacation at a retreat.
Retreats are an excellent way to learn. For starters, most retreats have some truly excellent teachers with years of experience There are specific retreats for beginners too, where you will be taught in a structured way. Then there’s the fact that you will also be with other people who are also learning. It’s a great way to socialise and to learn from each other.
Some of the best meditation retreats for beginners include:
- Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
- Bali Silent Retreat in Mount Batukaru
- Shambhala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
- Simple Peace Hermitage, Assisi, Italy
5: Online Courses
The staggering rise of online courses makes this one of the best ways for beginners to learn meditation at home.
There are very many different online courses to choose from, so you will be able to find one to match your needs perfectly. There are courses for kids, teens, adults, parents, men, women, everyone.
A friendly warning: There are good, average, and terrible online courses. Read the reviews and comments from other people who have been in the same course; otherwise, you might end up wasting your money.
Some of the best online meditation courses include:
- The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mindful Awareness Research Center, which has podcasts, an app, and courses.
- The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), the Sanford Institute, and the Compassion Institute h
- Vipassana Fellowship Meditation Course
- Mindfulness Program at the University of Toronto: School of Continuing Studies
When it comes to learning how to meditate at home, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
Why do you want to learn how to do meditation at home?
For instance, do you want to relax, to improve mental health, to improve, etc.? Different types of techniques offer different benefits. Write a list of the things you hope to get out of meditating at home. This will help determine which is the right type of technique for you.
Where are you going to meditate specifically?
You have already chosen to practice meditation at home, but where exactly? Some atmospheres are more conducive to inner peace than others. A room with a water feature, for instance, is a good choice. Or how about in the garden? If you are practising at home, make sure you have a lovely Zen chair or cushion (preferably both) to support your body while you sit.
Are there ideal times when the home is quiet, and you will not be disturbed? If so, this is an excellent time to practise. The most important part of learning how to do meditation at home is finding the right time and place in which to do it. There are many distractions at home, and it is easy to lose time. By answering these questions, you will create a structure that you can use to meditate daily.
I’m not sure where to practice
You can meditate anytime, anywhere. But it’s best to practise where you feel comfortable and will not be disturbed. Or, on a warm day, try in the garden.
I’m struggling to find the time
Try practising for ten minutes before bed (as you won’t be busy then anyway) and also try some mindfulness while doing housework (so you can meditate while stilling getting things done).
I want to practice with my children. Any advice?
Meditating with children is a great idea, but be sure to pick the right kind of meditation. Simple techniques like breathing are the best option.
I can’t find a quiet spot
If noise is a problem, there are a few solutions. You could play meditation music to cover the noise. You could go for a walk and do Zen walking. Or you could look for an alternative place to practise.
I find it hard to focus. Any advice?
Almost all beginners find it hard to focus when meditating. This is natural. Don’t worry. Keep trying, and you will naturally develop more focus over time. Try counting the breaths to help you focus.
Should I find a teacher or school before beginning?
This is entirely up to you. It certainly isn’t necessary. The practice is safe and relatively easy. That said, the knowledge a teacher or school can offer is valuable. It depends on how much you want to get out of your practice and how much you are willing to invest.
I’ve been practising for a few weeks but haven’t seen much benefit.
Try changing technique; if you’ve been using seated methods, try standing or moving. If you’ve been doing mindfulness, try mantras etc.
Q. Is it okay to practice in bed?
Practising in bed is okay but not ideal. The reason it is not ideal is that you want to meditate while you have energy. If you’re tired when you start, you’re likely just to drift off.
Do I need any specific items?
There are many meditation items and tools available, such as Hindu japan malas; Christian rosaries,;meditation chairs, benches, and Zafus; mindfulness apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer; singing bowls; and crystals, but you do not actually need any other these items.
Now you know how to meditate at home, you’re going to find life so much more relaxing. You can cut out the stress and the noise and find some good old fashioned you time.
I hope you found this guide helpful. Remember to share and subscribe.