7 meditation tips for people who’ve never meditated in their lives

Find a quiet spot to meditate
Find a quiet spot to meditate

In theory, meditation sounds easy—you sit in one place for a while, not doing anything (even thinking).

But when you realise you have no idea how to magically make your mind go black—cue anxiety, which is basically the opposite of how meditation’s supposed to make you feel.

Before you give up and turn on another episode of Riverdale, know that meditation for beginners does exist—you’re not expected to be a guru from the get-go.

To ease into getting your “om” on, just remember:

1. You don’t need to meditate for hours

You don’t even have to last 20 minutes, to be honest. For many first-time meditators, doing nothing other than sitting quietly with your thoughts can feel (and sound) totally strange. So, go ahead and toss any “go big or go home” mentality.

Instead, aim for shorter chunks of time and build from there: Try three to five minutes if using a guided app, says Andy Puddicombe, meditation and mindfulness expert and co-founder of meditation app Headspace. Better yet, if you’re going at it solo, try just 60 seconds at a time.

READ MORE:  7 ways to meditate — even if you don’t have the time (or patience)

2. Practice focusing on different areas of your body

For those who get easily distracted and have a “restless” or anxious mind, doing a body scan—focusing on different sensations from head to toes—can help redirect your attention away from your thoughts. Counting breaths—like, breathing in for five seconds, holding for five seconds, then breathing out for five seconds, can also do the trick, says Puddicombe.

3. Do it while you’re drinking your morning coffee

Puddicombe’s fave way to make meditation fit more naturally into your routine: couple it with something you already do daily, like drinking coffee. (You never forget to caffeinate, so you won’t forget to meditate when the two are linked.)

Practicing in the a.m. also guarantees you won’t “forget” to meditate later in the day. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to start your day off on the right (read: calmer, more centred) foot, says Puddicombe.

READ MORE:  The truth behind the meditation trend

4. Find a spot and just sit there for a while

You can practice on the floor, on a cushion, or, hey, cross-legged under a tree like a traditional monk—all that matters is that you’re in a position that is comfortable and will help you remain attentive (read: your bed might not be the most productive meditation space).

Once you find a location that works, make it your go-to zen zone, so that your body and mind start to associate it with meditation time. But this isn’t an excuse to avoid meditating on the days you can’t practice in your place. Remember, you can meditate anywhere from your bedroom to the bus, so it’s important to be flexible, too, says Puddicombe

5. Definitely don’t force it

You know how when you’re really trying hard to fall asleep, it’s pretty much impossible to do so? Same goes for meditation. “When you try really hard to go to sleep, you only move further away from sleeping. So, if you try to make, say, relaxation happen when you meditate, you will get anxious and frustrated,” Puddicombe says.

The more you practice, the less you’ll feel compelled to force yourself to chill—it will just happen.

READ MORE:  These are the 7 incredible things meditating can do for your body

6. Don’t expect to completely clear your mind

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about clearing your mind or stopping your thoughts. Sure, your mind might be calmer at some sessions than others. But, let’s be real, there will be times when your mind just won’t stop buzzing.

When you notice your mind has wandered (ahem, when last night’s date pops into your head), don’t panic or beat yourself up. Instead, just shift your focus back to your current exercise, be it breathing or body scan, or just tune back into your guided meditation.

READ MORE: "I was the weird person on the Gautrain bus, eyes closed with my hands on my lap, meditating"

7. Don’t necessarily search for silent spaces

Yes, being in a quieter space is typically easier for beginners, but some people actually prefer meditating in busier places (like maybe waiting in line at Vida)—so don’t be afraid to try different things out to see which one works for you.

I know what you’re thinking: But shouldn’t meditation be quiet? That’s a myth, says Puddicombe. “Never be put off from meditation with the amount of noise around you, even when you’re a beginner,” he says. That’s because—not to sound super-corny or anything—meditation is all about what’s going on inside of you, not your surroundings.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.