The practice of meditation has been gaining popularity over the recent years however meditation is nothing new. In fact, the first evidence of meditation dates all the way back to approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE.
Various forms of meditations have also been incorporated into all religions throughout history.
The ever increasing pace of our current lifestyle has led many people to rediscover the benefits of meditation, adopting it as a daily practice.
These are even being proven by science today and include reducing stress, lowering inflammation, maintaining gut function, and boosting focus and creativity, and improving blood sugar control and cardiovascular health (1)(2)(3).
Today, meditation is quickly gaining popularity as a tool to escape the busyness of our lives and a gateway to achieve mindfulness, inner peace, and even inner healing.
What is meditation?
The word meditation originates from the latin term, meditatum, which translates as "to ponder".
There are many descriptions of meditation but what does it really mean to meditate? According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Meditation is a mind-body practice used to promote overall calm, relaxation, and wellbeing.
Essentially, the goal of meditating is to become aware. Awareness means you are being present in the here and now. For many people, they think meditation means to have no thoughts, which is not true. It's more about becoming aware of your thoughts and releasing them as these thoughts come to the surface.
Put more simply, meditation is to the mind what exercise is to the body. This is why practice is necessary to become better at meditation and to reap the most benefits.
And meditation doesn't just affect the mind, it has also been shown to improve health by reducing anxiety, relieving fatigue, improving mood, and much more (2).
Meditation is commonly regarded as a difficult practice reserved for monks sitting on top of a hill with their legs crossed. However, this is far from the truth.
Though sitting still and thinking of nothing can sound daunting, like anything it is a practice that becomes easier over time. Meditation can be accessed by anyone, and today we are here to prove it to you.
There are many forms of meditation but the end goal is always the same, to tune inwards and find inner stillness.
Though there is no right way to meditate, there are certain steps you can take if you are just starting out and don't know where to start.
There are many forms of meditation however today we are going to make it easy for you and start with the basics. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. So where do you start? Follow our tips below on how to get started with your meditation practice:
1. Choose a time and a place
Developing a routine helps encourage consistency, which is why we recommend scheduling in your meditation at a time that is convenient for you. For many people, they like to start off or end their day with a meditation, however, stick to whatever works best for you. Finding a comfortable spot without distractions is also key before you start meditating.
2. Decide on a self-guided or guided meditation
Nowadays we have many meditation resources at our fingertips from apps to youtube videos to meditation programs, the options are endless. If you don't feel drawn to a guided meditation, skip to the next step.
Popular apps if you want to follow a guided meditation include Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer.
3. Set a timer
If you aren't following a guided meditation decide how long you want to meditate for and set a timer so you don't find yourself worrying over time and instead can focus solely on your practice.
4. Focus on your breath
The easiest way to become present with the moment in front of you is to focus on your breathing. Slow down your breathing, inhale and exhale deeply, and become conscious of the air moving in and out of your body.
5. Focus on your body
However you are positioned, seated, cross-legged, lying down, etc start to notice how your body feels. Practice a body scan which involves scanning different parts of your body using your senses to be aware of the different sensations that come up for you.
6. Become aware of your thoughts
It's natural for your thoughts to wander, just allow yourself to become aware when this happens and gently bring your attention back to your breath. This may happen multiple times but with practice, it will lessen.
7. Release judgment
You may have expectations for your meditation session however it's important to be forgiving towards yourself. No practice will be perfect but it is not meant to be. Congratulate yourself for showing up and let go of any guilt while reflecting on how you can improve next time.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.