5 popular meditation techniques for beginners (& how to choose one)

Meditating is a great way to boost your mental health and calm down your life. It’s such an easy activity to start as well, and there are plenty of techniques to choose from and grow into. With so many positive results and variety, it’s a popular activity and one worth looking into.

Here are the five best meditation techniques for beginners:

  1. Breathing Meditations
  2. Mindfulness Meditations
  3. Focus Meditations
  4. Walking Meditations
  5. Mantra Meditations

Deciding on which meditation technique is best for you is a great way to begin your meditative journey. If you’re at a loss, then keep reading more ways to pick how you meditate and tips for successful meditating!

Beginner Meditation

The 5 Best Beginner Meditation Techniques

If you’re thinking about meditating, then you’ll find yourself looking for a good starting place. There are all sorts of different techniques that exist, but some are more beginner friendly than others.

Be selective when you try different meditation techniques. Some might not fit your lifestyle, and others might be too difficult when you’re first starting out—picking the wrong one can discourage you and cause you to stop meditating. 

You don’t want to quit meditating before you even start! Meditating can help you resolve any and all sorts of tension in your life, including:

  • Your self-confidence
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Daily struggles and life challenges
  • Recognizing joy
  • Being grateful for life and what you have
  • Having peace

Try starting your journey with one of these techniques. There’s also information with each about how you can pick the perfect meditation technique for your life. 

1. Breaking Meditations

One of the most basic forms of meditations deals with purposeful breathing, making it an incredibly easy place to start meditating (everyone knows how to breathe, right?). You’d be surprised what slowing down your breathing can do to your life.

Science Daily writes that breathing exercises can actually sharpen your mind, as well as increase your focus, experience more positive emotions, and decrease your emotional reactivity among other things. You’re actually contributing to your brain’s health by breathing with a purpose!

The main idea of breathing meditations is to use your breath as a point of focus, giving you an easy task and not requiring you to do much else. The idea is that you’re focusing on something positive, something that’s giving you life, instead of dwelling on the stressful, negative things of life.

When people are stressed, their breath becomes shallow, which can reduce all those positive benefits we talked about earlier. Learning and practicing to breathe correctly and clearing your mind also lets you react better to the stress of everyday life, which gives you a much more peaceful life.

Here’s one of the most common breathing techniques, called the 4-7-8 technique attributed to Dr. Andrew Weil.

Step 1: Empty your lungs completely.

Step 2: Consistently breathe in through your nose for four seconds.

Step 3: For seven seconds, hold your breath.

Step 4: Consistently breathe out through your mouth, with your lips shut, for eight seconds.

Go ahead, try it! You can get a taste for how it feels while sitting at your computer or looking at your phone. 

It’s not easy, but it’s something worth learning how to do. Most people don’t breathe this deeply ever, so it’s going to feel unnatural and maybe even scary at first. Don’t worry; it gets easier, and your lungs will also grow like a muscle to make this easier. 

In the beginning, do this up to four times. If you start feeling dizzy, then stop. You want to let your body get to a point where you can comfortably breathe at this pace. However, this will take a lot of time and effort, so don’t give up too early!

How to Know if Breathing Meditations Are Right for You

If you’re someone who feels like you barely have any extra time in your days, try out the breathing meditations. You can do it anywhere, whether you’re showering or laying in bed to sleep. You’ll notice that your days will start to feel more relaxed and calm, which may lead to more free time for you to try other meditation techniques.

In all honesty, almost everyone should be doing breathing meditations alongside other meditation techniques. The breathing is one of the most fundamental parts of every other meditation technique, so getting this down first is going to help you everywhere else.

However, if you’re someone who struggles with breathing because of a health issue or you smoke often (or did in your past), breathing meditations might prove difficult for you. Everyone should try breathing meditations, but if you don’t find yourself improving, don’t push yourself too hard if you have prior health concerns. 

2. Mindfulness Meditations

Think of what it means to be mindful—you’re aware of everything going on around you, your feelings, your physical sense of location, and your present situation, even the way you’re currently breathing. Take a minute to take all of that in.

That’s what mindfulness meditations look like. You’re being hyper aware of your present situation instead of worrying about and thinking about the future, or even the past. This is a way to refocus yourself on the present instead of worrying about things that aren’t in your control (which is something we do a lot as humans).

This is another meditation technique you can do pretty easily. It’s simpler than you think; all you have to do is focus on something with 100% of your mind. Whether you’re washing dishes, driving to work, watching the birds, or even breathing, you can make the effort to solely focus on what you’re doing at the time.

Oftentimes this means you’re doing breathing meditations at the same time. They’ll help you slow down and really pay attention to yourself and your surroundings, so you’ll be able to mindfully meditate much better!

You can also do a body scan to help you mindfully meditate. If you’ve never done one before, it’s easy! It’s quite simple. You just need to purposefully refocus your mind to various parts of your body, paying attention to each specific body area to really hone in on yourself. 

Here are some tips when doing a body scan:

  • Stay at each phase for as long as you want to. The point to mindfully meditating is to stay in the present, so don’t rush through each point and don’t feel pushed to focus on each area as long as each other area.
  • Most people like to go in a specific order that makes sense to them, typically starting from the top of your body down. If you need a place to start, try going in this order while sitting down: how and where your body is touching the chair, feet, legs, hips, back, stomach, hands, arms, neck, throat, jaw, and finally head. 
  • If you’re struggling to focus, then try tensing and releasing your muscles while you practice this. Find something about the way your body naturally moves, even while you’re breathing, to really focus on and feel.
  • You can start out by listening to someone walk you through what to do! Here’s a great example of that that only takes 10 minutes.

How to Know if Mindfulness Meditations Are for You

If you’re struggling to sleep, then this is a great place to start! Practicing mindfulness meditations before bed can help you slow your mind and find sleep much quicker and easier than most other techniques. In fact, the first time you do this, you might want to set a timer! People fall asleep pretty often with this meditation technique.

If you have chronic body pains, then this is also a great meditation technique as it forces you to acknowledge every part of your body and work through the pain that might exist there. It’s definitely worth giving a try!

All in all, mindfulness meditations are great ways at coming back to your physical body, which is something that we don’t do too often in our fast-paced society.

3. Focus Meditations

Whereas mindfulness meditations allow you to focus on different things that deal with your own body, focus meditations force you to focus on something external, such as a candle or a plant. There are plenty of different things to focus on when you’re practicing focus meditations, so you’ve got a lot of options!

Focus meditations are meant to force you to think about every little detail in whatever you’re looking at, typically resulting in you having more respect for whatever object you’re meditating on and thinking about your relationship to the object and the external world in general.

When you’re focusing on the object, there are a ton of different things you can pay attention to. First, thinking about the physical aspects of the object that you can see gives you a sense of the object and a place to delve deeper into thinking about the things that you can’t see, like the inner workings of whatever you’re looking at. Pay attention to as much detail as you can, notice the flaws and follow them with your eyes and your mind.

Next, you can think about how you relate to that object. For example, think of what that object feels like while you’re holding it; think about what it smells like, what sounds it makes, and what it tastes like (if it’s something you should be tasting).

Let’s use an apple as an example:

  • Find a comfortable way to sit and put an apple in front of you.
  • Without moving the apple, just observe it. What color is it? What kind of scarring is on the skin of the apple? Can you see it’s pores?
  • Imagine what the inside of the apple looks like. What’s the texture of the inside of an apple? What’s an apple feel like and taste like when you bite into it? What does the apple smell like when you bite into it?
  • If you hold an apple, what do your hands feel like? Is the apple cold?

Together, all of these things will help you encompass the physical presence of the apple. It might sound extreme, but it’s a great place to start meditating.

Because we’re locked in our own heads the majority of our lives, we sometimes forget how to get in touch with the physical sense of the objects (and sometimes other people) around us. Focus meditations help you remember the physical world and to really grasp your place in the physical world around you.

You’d be surprised at how your mind shifts after meditating like this. Even after one meditation session, you’ll notice changes in how you feel your own body. Not only that, but you’ll find that you’re able to focus on things much easier, and your attention span will be longer.

How to Know if Focus Meditations Are for You

If you think that you’ll struggle starting out with meditating, then try focus meditations first! They’re great for the skeptical beginner since they provide such quick results and they’re easy to do—this makes them great for anyone who knows that they lose interest in things quickly.

Because focus meditations are mainly looking at the physical world around you, most people are comfortable starting here. If you’re someone who’s very physical, then this is the perfect place for you to start.

walking meditation

4. Walking Meditations

Walking meditations, or mindful walking, is ideal for beginners because it lets you slip into that meditative state while doing something active. There are many different variations of walking meditations, and we’ll go through them all. You can pick which one you’d like to try out!

Walking meditations are a form of kinhin, which was an old Zen Buddhism practice where followers would walk around a room with their hands in closed fists behind each other, stepping forward after every full breath. Walking meditations typically followed sitting meditations or vice versa—however, they were paired together always.

You don’t have to do your walking meditations this way though—there are plenty of other variations and more relaxed ways to go about this, especially if you’re uncomfortable walking at such a slow pace.

The main point behind walking meditations is that you’re focusing on the world around you while you walk. It’s simple to the mindfulness meditations in that your goal is to focus on everything around you except for yourself.

This means being quiet and observing the world around you. Whether you’re walking in a field, a trail, or even your local park, pay attention to your surroundings. Feel the air around you, look at how the leaves move, and pay attention to how the ground shifts beneath your feet. 

While you’re spending time observing the world around you, your body will naturally align itself and your breathing should fall in step with that. However, if it doesn’t, you can always practice breathing techniques while you’re doing walking meditations. Just remember that the point of this particular meditation technique is to focus on the external world around you, not your own self or your breathing.

Since that’s all you have to keep in mind, you can imagine the different ways people go about their walking meditations. You can walk at any pace that’s comfortable for you, as long as you’re not becoming focused on the strenuous physical aspect, you’ll be able to do this type of meditation technique easily.

That’s why you can’t necessarily do this while you’re running or jogging; oftentimes, you’ll find yourself paying more attention to the physical exercise or your own exhaustion compared to thinking of the world around you. 

How to Know if Walking Meditations Are for You

If you’re someone who has trouble staying still, then this is the perfect beginning meditation technique for you! Walking meditations require you to be active, so this gives your body a way to burn some energy (and calories) while you’re meditating. Some people simply can’t focus without forcing their body to slow down, and this is one way you can do that.

However, if you’re someone who doesn’t exercise, then I’d steer clear of this type of meditative technique. While walking is something that everyone does everyday, you’d be surprised at how much more difficult it is to just start walking around without stopping. You’ll find yourself getting tired quickly, and it’s hard to pay attention to the world around you when you start feeling tired.

5. Mantra Meditations

Mantra meditations focus on words or phrases while meditating. It’s a common practice around the world, but it’s most known in the Buddhist culture. However, you can apply this to many different religions, using things like Bible verses and words like “peace” or “unity” to meditate on.

The first thing you’ll need to do for your mantra meditations is pick a mantra! Once that’s done, sit yourself down and ground yourself—calm your mind, and really get a feel for your physical and spiritual and/or mental self before beginning. 

Once you’re stilled, then repeat the mantra out loud 108 times. This might sound like a lot, but it’ll go by quicker than you realize. The hardest part is keeping up with how many times you’ve repeated the word. It’s perfectly ok to use a mala or prayer beads to help you keep count. You can even make your own way of keeping count as long as you stay focused on the mantra above all else.

Mantra meditations are fairly simple, and you’ll find a lot more peace within yourself after completing a session. It’s a fairly standard way to completely calm your brain while also trying to reflect on a certain word or phrase.

Language is a powerful tool in culture, and sometimes you really need to think and reflect on something before fully comprehending what it means and/or implies. That’s where mantra meditations come in handy! 

You can even use mantra meditations as a way to memorize key things in your own religion, such as phrases in important texts. This can also work as a form of prayer for many people, which is why prayer beads can be helpful to have with you.

How to Know if Mantra Meditations Are for You

Mantra meditations are great ways to reflect on things, but they’re not meant for everyone. For example, if you’re going into meditating slightly skeptical, then you might feel a bit awkward or out of place chanting mantras the first time you try to meditate. 

It’s also harder for many people to focus on something like a word or phrase compared to the external world; in this case, you probably don’t want to try mantra meditations first. 

On the other hand, if you’re someone who really enjoys reading, language, and/or words in general, then this might be the perfect place for you to start. It doesn’t require much outside of the ability to clear your mind and get comfortable, so it’s easy for anyone and everyone to do. 

Other Meditation Techniques

While the five techniques mentioned above are perfect for beginners, there are also some other worthy contenders. The most important thing to meditating is that you’re comfortable and able to focus on what you should be focusing on, so make sure whatever practice you fit lets you be comfortable!

Mindful eating is a meditation technique that puts all of your focus on the food that you’re eating at the time. You’ll be focused on both your actions, such as chewing and swallowing, and the physical food, such as the texture, the flavor, and the smell. It’s a great place to begin for those who want to make a subtle change or don’t have any extra time to meditate; you can do this in your daily life with little to no changes!

Meditating while practicing yoga is another big way to meditate. While not every yoga position gives you time and the mental space to meditate, yoga does revolve around breathing, which is a somewhat alternative way to go through breathing meditations. Not only that, but it’s great for your body; you’ll exercise more than you realize.

Tips and Tricks for Meditating

If you’re just starting to meditate, then you’ll more than likely run into the same problems that everyone else has. For example, things like a wandering mind are common for everyone to deal with. The following tips and tricks are going to help you overcome those common challenges:

Tip 1: Meditate daily

In most cases, the biggest benefits from meditating aren’t going to come in just one session. You’ll need to meditate over time, and you’ll need to do it consistently or else you’re not going to get any benefits from it at all.

Make sure to set aside time, or a specific point in your day, where you meditate with whatever technique you choose. This is going to keep your motivation high too, so you’ll stick with meditating compared to quitting after a few weeks.

If you can make meditation a habit, then you can stick to it. All you need to do is push through 11 days; Psychology Today says that Lift reports 90% of people are more likely to continue if they can go for 11 days of meditating without a break.

Tip 2: Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s incredibly difficult to get your mind to stop wandering, especially when you first begin meditating. It’s a common problem that everyone has, and it’s something that you will encounter in your first few meditation sessions.

Make sure to not beat yourself up every time you find your mind getting away from you. Just reel yourself back in and continue meditating. It’s a difficult process, and there are people who dedicate their lives to mastering the are—don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t get it perfectly the first time you sit down to meditate.

Tip 3: Set out your goals for meditating

You’re probably not thinking about meditating just because it sounds fun. Whether it’s for your mental health, your brain health, or even to calm down your days, make sure that you know exactly why you’re meditating and what you hope to accomplish with your meditating time.

This will keep you motivated on the days where you really feel like skipping meditating. Meditating is going to be difficult starting out, and you’re going to want to quit at some point. If you have a clear reason and goal for why you want to meditate, then you’ll be able to hold onto the practice much easier than you would if you’re just doing it “because you want to.”

This will also help when it comes justifying why you’re meditating to the people around you. There are a ton of myths about meditating, and a lot of people have strong feelings for and against it. You’ll more than likely run into someone who disagrees with meditating, and having clear cut reasons for why you meditate will keep your own opinion from being swayed and might help you educate anyone around you.

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