How to Meditate for Beginners: Developing the Habit of Presence

Our minds are constantly being bombarded with stimulation from all kinds of different sources. Everything is competing for our attention, and this leaves the mind in a clustered state. The mind simply loves to analyze everything that is thrown at it – it’s one of its primary functions. The issue here is, it causes more problems than it solves. Even the most insignificant issues grow into huge reasons to be worried, anxious or even depressed.

Meditation is the practice of stilling the mind, letting unnecessary thoughts pass right through you. It allows for the mind to come into a state of presence – focusing on the current moment.

Focusing your thoughts on the past will tend to create a state of discomfort, whether it’s wanting to change the past or wanting to relive it. As much as you’d like to, you can’t. Likewise, focusing on the future will tend to create a state of uncertainty. We all wish we could engineer the perfect future for ourselves, but there are always going to be forces beyond our control that will make that impossible.

Accepting the present moment is what meditation helps to achieve. Instead of worrying about what has happened or what may happen, simply accept what is. Going with the flow of reality as it unfolds in the now will bring out the peace and happiness from within you.

So, let’s get to it.

  1. Dedicate a time in your daily routine to meditate. A 20 minute session is common for a lot of people – not too short, not too long.
  2. Put yourself in an environment, free of stimulation and distractions where you can feel completely comfortable. This can be your room, the park, the beach – basically anywhere where you can allow yourself to be calm and relax.
  3. Allow yourself to get comfortable sitting in an upright position. Adjust yourself until you can let the muscles of your body be free and relaxed. It is a good idea to be aware of your body and consciously release any tension you feel throughout your session.
  4. Shift your awareness to your breathing. Listen to it, feel the flow of air in and out of your body. Avoid making judgments like whether you’re doing it ‘correctly’ or not. This will gradually allow the mental ‘noise’ to quiet down and settle your mind.
  5. Focus on a single word, sound or object. This helps to eliminate the unconscious thought patterns that create mental noise. Beginners may find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breaths from 1 to 10, repeating the process throughout the session.
  6. Silence the mind. After you have trained your mind to focus on one thing, next is to focus on ‘nothing’. Clearing your mind completely is difficult. It requires a great deal of discipline. Essentially, it is being able to look at things with no judgment, attachment or labelling of any kind. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’, there just is.

Don’t be discouraged if your first few sessions don’t turn out so great. As with any other habit, it takes time, effort and persistence to develop its quality.

Happy Meditating.