Health & Wellness

Find Your Happy Place: How to Meditate for Beginners in 3 Steps

What if I told you that you can reverse many signs of physiological illness with one daily practice—and it doesn’t cost a thing? How incredible would it be to be able to do something for yourself that’s been proven to improve your health in just 15 minutes a day? I’m talking about meditation—one of the most helpful methods you can use to give your mind a break in times of extreme stress.

I believe meditation is a wonderful practice to support the health of both your mind and body, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be tough to know where to start. After all, meditation is called “practice” for a reason. Trying to quiet your mind can be a serious challenge that takes commitment and a lot of regular practice. So, let’s begin by discussing how meditation supports your health. Then we’ll review some tips on how to meditate for beginners. Here’s to a healthier, less stressed you!

Why Meditation is Good for Your Health

When it comes to mediation, the truth of the matter is that it’s not always easy to block out the world. In fact, it can be hard. That’s why many call meditation an art—it takes time and practice. But the benefits are so incredibly vast that it’s well worth the effort. Here’s a look at some of the top health benefits of meditation.

1. Helps you become more present and “in the moment.”

Have you ever driven home and not remembered how you got there? Or have you read a book and not remembered the details? Maybe you’ve attended an event, but spent the entire time thinking of what you had to do that day. With the technology boom and constant connectivity, we are losing a valuable thing: the ability to be in the moment.

Being in the moment is one of the most important skills you need in order to achieve true happiness. Have you ever noticed that when your mind wanders, it can cause excess and perhaps unnecessary stress and concern? Wouldn’t it be great if you could limit that? Well, according to a 2011 study, meditation will help you do just that!

Researchers at Yale University discovered that practicing meditation actually decreases the activity in your brain responsible for mind-wandering. This means that meditating can actually help you to experience mind-wandering less frequently, allowing you to enjoy the moment in front of you. Even more amazing? Those who regularly meditate are better able to come back to the present more quickly than those who don’t. [1] And because those who frequently experience mind-wandering also tend to be unhappier and worry more, the ability to limit these moments could actually make you happier and less stressed in the long run. [2]

2. Calms your mind and body.

One question I’ve been hearing a lot from patients lately is, “What is transcendental meditation?” Transcendental meditation was popular in the 1970s and is now beginning to make a comeback, so you may have heard this term mentioned recently. Basically, transcendental meditation is the practice of “transcending” your here-and-now. The goal is to calm both your mind and your body by helping you avoid distracting thoughts and become better able to relax. [2] And science has shown that transcendental meditation can aid your health in more ways than one.

A 2012 review of over 160 studies revealed that transcendental meditation has significant effects on reducing anxiety and negative emotions. The review authors also determined that this form of meditation supports learning abilities and emotional regulation. [3] Given these findings, I like to recommend this kind of meditation for children and college students. Between the pressure of school and the constant technology stimulation (such as with smartphones), transcendental meditation shows excellent promise in helping children and students not only cope with their daily pressures but also excel.

Furthermore, a 2009 study conducted on approximately 300 college students revealed that practicing transcendental meditation not only resulted in decreased blood pressure, but also improved the student’s psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger and hostility, and coping skills. [4]

3. Helps your body restore and repair.

As we’ve discussed, practicing meditation helps you to relax. But do you know why? It’s because meditating stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping you to de-stress and unwind. When this system is activated, it helps your adrenal glands to stop releasing cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). As a result, you begin to feel calmer, your heart rate lowers, and your body enters into “restore and repair” mode, which has far reaching, positive consequences.

Researchers are also studying the effects of meditation on cardiovascular health. A 2013 study showed that meditation may have beneficial effects on your blood pressure and the stimulation of your heart. How? Well, meditation was shown to have a positive effect on reducing inflammation. [5]

Another study evaluated women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer. After 12 meditation sessions during a 6-week radiation period, the participants saw improvements in anxiety, fatigue, and overall quality of life. [6]

 

How to meditate for beginner Dr. Pingel

 

How to Meditate for Beginners

Now that you know the major health benefits of practicing meditation, let’s discuss what you’re really interested in: how to meditate for beginners. It’s important to remember that a huge part of meditating is focusing on your breathing. So, remember to pay special attention to your breath—making sure to take deep, full, and slow breaths. When you just starting out, here are three basic steps to meditation that you may find helpful.

3 Basic Steps to Meditation

1. Find a quiet spot.

The first step in learning how to meditate for beginners is to find a quiet spot where you can be alone with your thoughts. Pick a place that will limit any distractions. This can be anywhere from your local park to your backyard to even your closet. It doesn’t matter where it is, so long as it works for you. Just remember to turn off your electronics and put them in another room. (Keeping them with you will hinder your ability to relax.)

2. Sit down in a comfortable position.

Finding a comfortable position is crucial in learning how to meditate for beginners. Some people prefer to meditate in a chair, while others choose to sit on a pillow on the floor. The important thing here is that you keep your back straight to support proper breathwork. In fact, I like to lie down with a pillow under my knees to help me keep proper spine alignment. It also helps me to  feel my ribcage move with my breath.

3. Focus on your breath.

Once you’re sitting in a comfortable position in a quiet place, you’re ready for step three in how to meditate for beginners: becoming aware of your breath. You’ll want to be aware of your breath and you breathe in and out. Think about how the air feels as it enters and exits your nose. Is your breath warm or cold? Are you breathing slowly?

If you find that your mind begins to wander, focus back on these elements. Concentrating on your breath will help to keep you grounded in the moment. Continue to do this for at least five minutes. And remember that the more you meditate, the easier it will become. You will become less distracted and learn to stay in the moment. And, in turn, you will benefit your health and well-being.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Daily meditation has been shown to help reverse many signs of physiological illness.
  • The major health benefits of meditation include becoming more present, calming your mind and body, and allowing your body to repair and restore.
  • If you’re wondering how to meditate for beginners, just follow my easy three-step guidelines to get started.

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