Have you ever finished a page in a book without truly absorbing its content? Or driven home without ‘knowing’ how you got there? Just as training your physical body through different activities and sports, you can also train your mind with these easy meditation techniques and tips for beginners.

We spend a lot of time in auto-pilot or thinking mode, without being really focussed on the present. Instead, we focus on past happenings, future worries and other stressors in today’s society. 

In order to ‘prepare’ for your meditation practice, all you really need is to wear comfortable clothes, and find a position that is sustainable for you for the duration of your practice. This can be seated, lying down, or even whilst doing slow movements. 

When you meditate, or for how long is purely a personal preference. Once you get into the swing of things you generally notice what feels more natural to you. The below meditation tips are a guide only, always do what feels right for your body and mind.

Happy meditating!

1. MEDITATE AT A TIME THAT SUITS YOU

Meditating is easier said than done, and chances are you think you are ‘too busy’ to do it. The truth is, the busier you are, the more you need to give your mind a break. Whereas most people say they prefer to practice meditation first thing in the morning, we believe this is entirely personal as it might not work with your schedule at all. If you skipped your morning meditation, don’t be hard on yourself. Consciously check in with yourself during the day, and pick another time to take a breather.

Another great time to meditate is right before bed as it can help you sleep better. Morning tea or lunch breaks are also popular moments to meditate and gain more clarity for the remainder of your day.

3. START WITH 5 MINUTES OF MEDITATION

..Or even 2 minutes if needs be. Don’t set a timer (unless you need to be somewhere), as you might be ‘waiting’ for the alarm to go off instead of being in the moment. Try to practice your meditation for as long as you are comfortable with and gradually increase your ‘me-time’. 

Instead of checking the clock to monitor your ‘progress’, let your body and mind be your guide. Meditation will help slow down the mind chatter, and – after a while – you might notice a sense of calm, or more energy. Your breathing may naturally slow down, and you might feel any tension dissipate from your muscles. 

3. FIND A COMFORTABLE POSITION TO MEDITATE

Whether you choose to sit on a chair, in a cross-legged seat or prefer to lie down, find a position that is comfortable and sustainable for you. There is no point in forcing yourself to sit cross-legged if this is uncomfortable for you. Instead of focusing on your breath and the present moment, you will most likely focus on the pain in your knees or hips instead. 

One important thing to keep in mind is to make sure your spine is ‘straight’ – meaning, with its natural curves rather than hunched forward or in a back bend. If you are seated, think about lifting the crown of your head away from your tailbone to lengthen the spine. If you are lying down, it can be helpful to place a pillow under the knees to support the lower back. 

Once you are comfortable, you can either close your eyes, or take a soft gaze to the tip of your nose. Consciously relax every single muscle in your body by mentally scanning your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. 

4. HOW TO BEGIN MEDITATING

Unless you have tried a meditation practice, it’s hard to describe the physical, mental and emotional benefits. We don’t believe you have to ‘sit still’ to meditate. A mindful walk in nature (whilst focusing on your breath) or a Vinyasa yoga session can be really powerful way to start a meditation practice.

A regular practice will improve mental clarity, concentration and productivity, happiness and it increases both energy levels and calmness.

Start your practice

It’s usually nice to begin with an exaggerated breath: Inhale deeply but slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a few moments and let it go through your mouth by literally sighing. Repeat this three times. Following on, start to follow your breath in and out of your nose. You don’t necessarily have to ‘do’ anything to your breath. You can let it flow naturally in and out of your body and observe it.

easy meditation techniques for beginners
Lying down meditation, hands on belly to feel the flow of your breath

Pay attention to any thoughts coming and going. Often people think that meditating is about ’emptying the mind from any thoughts’. This is not the case, and quite frankly, nearly impossible. Instead, observe any thoughts that pop up, and let them float away as quickly as they came. It can be helpful to visualise a lake with autumn leaves, and to mentally place new thoughts on a leave and visualise it floating away.

Whether you are seated, walking or in a vinyasa class, your mind will inevitably wander. It will produce thoughts and emotions, and come up with other ways to keep you occupied. Continue practicing the shifting of your awareness back to your breath. And remember, it’s a meditation practice, not a meditation perfect.

5. MANTRA AND COUNTING YOUR BREATHS

Another powerful tip to keep your mind from wandering too much is to use a mantra or count your breaths. A mantra can be as simple as silently saying ‘let’ when you inhale and ‘go’ when you exhale. This way, you are focusing on your breath and on your mantra at the same time.

When counting, take deep and slow breaths and count from 1 to 4 on the in-breath and back from 4 to 1 on the out-breath. The more relaxed you become, the longer and slower you’ll be able to breathe, and you might be able to increase the counting to 6 or even 8. Taking these nourishing breaths really calms your nervous system and helps you feel less anxious.

6. BOX BREATHING

Once you’ve got the hang of counting your breaths, why not try a box breath instead.

Also known as ‘four-square-breathing’, the box breathing technique is used by Navy Seals to help steady their nerves and calm the mind in extremely tense situations. By slowing down the breath, your body receives a message that all is well. Your blood pressure lowers, the heart rate decreases and you’ll benefit from more mental clarity.

Follow these 4 steps for your box breath:

Inhale

Slowly take a deep inhale, expanding belly, lungs and ribcage for a count of 4.

Hold Your Breath 

Hold the breath when you’re almost at the top of your inhale – to avoid tension in your torso – for a count of 4.

Exhalation

Slowly exhale the air from your lungs for a count of 4.

Suspend

When your lungs are empty, pause for a count of 4 before you inhale again. Try to keep your muscles relaxed before you start the next cycle of breath. You can adjust the number of counts to whatever you’re comfortable with, but try to either make your in- and exhale the same length or double the exhales.

7. BODY SCAN

During a body scan you focus on a particular body part at a time. Starting at the soles of your feet (or the top of your head) you make your way up along your toes, ankles, shins etc. Pay attention to each body part. How do they feel? Is there any discomfort or pain? Are you holding any tension? If so, just let it go and relax each part as you move along.

We are working on a recording of the Yoga Nidra body scan practice that you get to enjoy at our Yoga Retreats, and we’ll pop a link to YouTube soon.

About the author: Sab is the founder of Retreat Here and Sabijn Linssen Yoga. She creates Yoga and Wine events and retreats to connect like-minded women in Victoria. She’s also a fully certified Yoga Instructor, offering private and corporate yoga classes in Melbourne.


First published on

back to all articles

BE THE FIRST TO RECEIVE RETREAT NEWS, WELLNESS TIPS AND TRAVEL INSPIRATION

Marketing by