Many people think that in order to be able to get started with a meditation practice, they need to go to a meditation teacher. If you have never used this practice to calm the mind and relax then you may not be sure where to start, but the good news is that the answer may be right in front of you.
One of the greatest things about meditating is that you do not need to be taught by another person; it is perfectly viable to teach yourself to meditate.
In this article, we will be looking at various meditation techniques for beginners and showing you some great tips on how you can develop your own meditation practices from the comfort of your own home.
Can You Learn To Meditate Without A Meditation Teacher?
Meditation teachers are great and they will teach you everything you need to know about the practice but that is not to say that you need one – a lot of people think that this is the case but there are more and more tools such as a mindfulness and meditation app that can be used to develop a practice at home. This is a great way to meditate when you do not have the time to go to someone else.
Of course, if you want to learn in the ins and outs of the practice then a teacher is a good way to do this and if truth be told, relying on someone to guide your mind and help you understand the practice will make it easier to meditate. But a lot of people like the idea of learning by themselves without others in the room and often, you will find that this is something that is very rewarding.
It is vital to keep in mind that leaning mindfulness and meditation does take some practice and time, so it is important to give yourself this time and take it at a steady pace. You won’t come to the place you wish to be overnight and while this can be a frustration at times, you must find a balance and develop healthy meditation habits.
What Do I Need To Get Started?
One of the great things about meditating is that you do not need anything to meditate; all that you need is to be present and turn up for your practice. All of the other things that you might want to use are optional. However, if you seriously want to incorporate a regular meditation session into your life then the best way to do this is to make meditation a priority.
It doesn’t need to take over your life and meditation for beginners should not exceed 10 minutes for the first few practices. The last thing that you want to do is overwhelm yourself; this is likely to put you off meditating altogether.
Types Of Meditation
When you think about beginning to meditate, your mind may wander to images of established meditators who sit cross-legged for a meditation practice that lasts all day; and of course, there are meditators who do this and if that is something that you want to aim for, that is fine but the first thing you need to learn is that when it comes to meditating, there is more than one type of practice.
This is excellent as it makes meditation accessible to more people; a lot of us are put off the practice as we think that one of the only ones is the cross-legged meditation.
In the main, meditation for beginners is made up from one of three types of meditation practices; these are mindfulness meditation, body scan meditation and walking meditation. These techniques are more simple to learn that trying to sit and completely clear the mind, which is not what meditation is about.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation has been described as a practice to raise awareness and train the mind and generally speaking, this is an adept description. However, including meditation in your life is not about controlling the mind or attempting to clear it. People often make the mistake of assuming that to be successful when they meditate, they must banish all thoughts, but this is not the best way to approach meditation.
A life with meditation is going to feel great and you will notice huge benefits where your health is concerned as well as your personal growth. Rather than attempting to remove all thoughts from your mind, when you meditate, you will learn to observe these thoughts during your meditation session, without judging them or labelling them. Over time, this is a great way to gain an understanding of them, and therefore, meditating can be an effective way to combat problems such as anxiety which is a common problem for many.
We often hear about mindfulness when talking about meditation and it is important to be aware that mindfulness is not the same as meditation. However, they are two things that are closely related. In contrast, mindfulness is the habit of being in the present moment, focused on the here and now rather than letting our minds wander to all of the other issues we face.
Other benefits of meditating include forming positive habits in your life and taking the time to spend with yourself. We spend so much time with others that it can become overwhelming and while all of your friends and family may be an important part of your life, it is important to form the habit of reconnecting with yourself.
Aside from improving anxiety, regular mindfulness and meditation sessions are known to improve your mood and can be beneficial to anyone who has problems with their mental health. Most notably, when you meditate, your stress levels improve, even if you meditate for as little as 10 minutes so taking this time each day is better than not doing anything at all.
You might also notice that your self-esteem is improved and that you are able to get out of your head and think more clearly. All those who meditate also report that their sleep patterns are better but physical health can be improved which may help if you experience pain in the body. Another great thing about meditating is that is can improve your focus and concentration, therefore making you more productive.
How To Meditate Without A Teacher
If you are ready to start a meditation practice without a teacher, the first thing you will need to do is to find a space to do your practice. Finding a space to do this that will take your attention away from any distraction is essential. All of the noise of modern family life can pose as a way for the mind to lose focus and relaxation becomes nigh on impossible.
The bedroom is a good place to do your practice as it is usually designed for peace but do be mindful that if you try meditation lying on the bed, there is a chance that you will fall asleep in the middle of the practice. One of the best beginner tips, if you want to lay your head down for you practice is to open a window and let some fresh air into the space.
There are many things that you can do to get ready for your practice that do not require any tools or apps.
- Before you start your practice, it is important that you place your attention on your intention. We all meditate for different reasons and whatever your reason, that is personal to you and completely acceptable. Some of us spend time meditating to gain insight into a problem whereas others simply want to get out of their head and take their mind off troubling thoughts. Take some time to work out what you what to gain from your practice. Some examples might be getting over an addiction, learning more about yourself, practising loving-kindness.
- Now, you will need to choose what type of meditation you would like to do – we will look at these options in a little more detail later on but it is important to work out which would suit you best. For example, if you think that you would have problems with the mind wandering in a mindfulness meditation or a static practice, then you might be better considering a walking meditation or one where the eyes are kept open.
- Be aware that starting out with meditation can be something of a frustration because a lot of people go into the concept without being aware of what to expect. You must not expect an overnight transformation; meditation is a method that takes time to yield results. Yes, you might feel instantly more relaxed during your first session but you won’t notice the bigger advantages right away, this will take time.
Plan how much time you will spend meditating. As we have mentioned, ten minutes is a good place to start but you can build this up over time as your body and mind become used to the practice. Most practitioners build up to around 45 minutes at the height of their practice.
Many beginners find it a lot more simple to form a meditation habit when they use a guided meditation. This is great because you won’t be relying on your own mind but will be guided by a recording. There are many of these available on smartphone apps or on the internet.
A body scan is one of the most popular types of meditation and can be done on its own, but it is also a nice way to end a yoga session. Explaining how to perform this type of meditation can be difficult, so below, you will find step by step instructions on how to perform the body scan.
- Find a comfortable place to do your meditation. Whilst we would advise that you err on the side of caution when lying down to meditate, this type of practice is best performed when reclined. Many people will perform a scan before going to sleep as a way to wind down from a hectic day, so it might be particularly useful if you suffer from insomnia.
- Close the eyes and spend a few moments focusing on the breath. One of the key aspects of meditation is to put your attention on the breath as this helps to ground you in the present moment. Observe the breath, don’t try to alter it but rather feel how each breath fills up the body and allow yourself to relax.
- Once you feel comfortable, you can take your attention away from the breath and place it on the feet. The idea of this scan is to relax each part of the body in turn. Keep your attention on the feet and feel them relax. Some people like to use a visualisation such as picturing the tension leaving the area or light filling it up.
- When you feel as though the feet are relaxed, you can move your attention up to the lower legs. You will now repeat the process before moving on to the upper legs, then the hips, the abdomen and so on until you reach the head.
At this point, you don’t simply want to snap out of the meditation and get on with your day. It is important to spend a few moments in this present moment and relish the relaxation you have created. You might put your attention on the breath once again before slowly returning to the world around you.
Many of the guided meditation practices that you will find on your meditation apps will be mindfulness meditations. This method involves what a lot of us think of when we think about meditating.
When you meditate like this, you will sit quietly with your thoughts and attempt to stay in the present. We have discussed how mindfulness relates to being in the present and this is perhaps one of the most difficult, yet simplest meditations to try.
It is difficult because it involves having to try to remain still and silent while watching all of your thoughts pass by without interacting with them and this can take some practice. However, you do not need any props or anything other than a quiet spot to sit and tap into your mind.
How you perform this practice is entirely down to you but some of the most common methods are:
- Focusing on a certain area of the body to keep your attention in the present. Some practitioners will sit with their pain to try to alleviate it, remaining in the present and allowing themselves to feel everything.
- You can put your focus on the breath and this is potentially the most effective and straightforward method. As you sit, you will notice that the mind may wander and this is natural but when you notice this happening, you can bring your awareness back to the breath.
You may also use music to focus; there are many meditative tracks available and focusing on one particular sound can help to retain your focus.
A great thing about meditation is that you do not need to sit still; there are those who find this almost impossible but that does not mean that they should not meditate; the opposite is, in fact, true. A lot of us are unaware of the fact that we can meditate when doing almost anything. If you are relaxing with a hot drink in a quiet room with a relaxed mind; this is meditating. Looking out of a window at a scenic view and being in the present moment is also meditating.
Walking meditation comes from Buddhism but does not need to be a spiritual practice, it can be done by anyone and works on the principle that the mind can be brought to peace by walking in calm surroundings.
As you walk, use your mindfulness knowledge to stay present. Focus on certain sounds, sights and smells to help you stay focused and also be aware of how your body feels. This is a great choice for anyone who cannot tolerate sitting still for long periods of time.
Meditation is a practice that is available to everyone and regardless of whether you have the aid of a teacher or wish to learn by yourself, there should be no reason that you cannot develop a good habit. There is no denying that learning from a meditation master will always have the biggest benefit where your practice is concerned, but if you cannot access this then there are several simple meditations that you can do alone.
It will take some time to get right and learn what works best for you but if you have the patience to work on it and are committed, you will soon notice various benefits.