A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
Mindfulness is getting more attention than ever as people are increasingly discovering its benefits. Not surprisingly, this has led to a greater interest in meditation too. If you want to calm your mind and be more present in the moment, meditation might be the answer.
Thanks to a variety of easy-to-use smartphone apps, putting meditation into practice is easier than ever. You can meditate at any time and in any place with these helpful apps, which offer guided mindfulness and meditation.
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If you’re new to meditation, here’s everything you need to know.
The Benefits of Meditation
If you’ve never meditated before, you likely have preconceived notions about what it entails. Although many who enjoy meditation are also interested in things like yoga and holistic medicine, the truth is meditation provides benefits for people with all backgrounds, preferences, and sensibilities.
What makes meditation so great? Practicing meditation provides both mental and physical benefits. According to Mindworks.org¹, the following are some of the benefits of engaging in regular meditation practice:
- Stress reduction
- Improved immune system functioning
- Improved memory
- Increased alertness
- Better sleep
- Improved heart health
To get the most of meditation, it’s a smart idea to practice regularly. Strive to sit down and meditate at least once each day. It’s also important not to have any expectations or to be too concerned about “progress.”
This is why guided meditation apps are so useful. Apps provide clear lessons, helping you make the most of every meditation session – and many allow you to track how often you practice to keep you motivated.
Meditation in 5 Simple Steps
Meditation is an easy practice to begin. Just follow these five steps:
1. Find a Comfortable Position
When most people think about meditation, they envision sitting cross-legged on the floor with their arms carefully balanced on their knees. While this is a natural position to start in, it isn’t the only way to meditate. Many people find it more comfortable to sit upright in a chair or on a sofa while others prefer to meditate lying down.
2. Focus on Your Breathing
To bring yourself into a meditative state and to stay grounded within it, focus on your breath. First, after sitting quietly for a few moments, figure out where in your body you feel the action of breathing the most clearly. Focus on how the breath feels as it flows into and out of your body.
3. Find Your Center
You’ll get more out of your meditation when you’re properly centered. This includes sitting quietly and noticing any emotions you have in the moment, acknowledging them, and then proceeding to focus on the meditation. It can also include setting an intention for your practice, which can be something as simple as wanting peace.
4. Perform a Body Scan
Performing a body scan at the beginning of your practice also helps center you. With your eyes closed and while breathing fully and deeply, scan down your body. Starting at the top of your head, mentally run through your body, noticing areas of discomfort and areas of comfort. Simply acknowledge how you’re doing, then proceed with the scan until you’ve reached your toes.
5. Meditate Daily
Meditation is so deceptively simple, and daily practice help you maximize its benefits. Even if you only have time to sit for a five-minute session, aim to meditate every day. Brief meditation offers the same body and mind benefits as a long session.
Guided Meditation Apps
Sitting quietly and focusing on breathing doesn’t come naturally to most people. That’s where a smartphone app can help – an app can soothe and guide your mind, helping you achieve meditation that’s peaceful and relaxing.
A number of apps for iOS and Android devices provide guidance for daily meditation practice. Try turning to the following apps if you’re new to meditation or if you’ve struggled to maintain a regular practice:
- Headspace: Headspace is great for beginners. Its structured courses provide a solid foundation for those who are just starting out, and bright, playful graphics and animations help bring concepts into living color.
- The Mindfulness App: The Mindfulness App is perfect for users of any experience level. The app offers both short and long meditation courses, gives guidance as you find your center, and allows you to save your favorite meditations.
- Calm: Calm offers more open-ended sessions, making it better suited for people with a little experience. You can try out a a five-day guided meditation practice course, choose from a variety of guided and unguided meditations, and explore the app’s library of ambient music, sleep guidance, breathing visualizations, and more.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.