Learn the easiest meditation techniques, make meditation a habit, and change your life
Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, and can be practiced in just five or ten minutes (though longer sessions are likely to produce better results).
There’s many different ways you can meditate. I decided to share the best techniques for beginners so you can easily practice it even if you’ve never done it before, or you’re not experienced.
Before I describe the five techniques, let’s have a look at the definition of meditation, and how it can help you improve your mental health and overall wellbeing. You may be surprised to find out the benefits of practicing meditation daily.
What is meditation?
We can define meditation as a practice which increases your awareness and focus, so your mind becomes clear and enters a different state of consciousness.
People have used meditation techniques for spiritual or religious purposes for thousands of years. Meditation originated with Hinduism in ancient India, and became one of the main practices of Buddhism (though almost all religions have used different forms of meditation).
The immediate benefits of meditation include relaxation, calmness, and more clarity and focus. Long-term benefits (which can be noticed if you make meditation a habit, ideally for at least two months) include better sleep, less stress and anxiety, better memory, and increased awareness of your thoughts and emotions.
In other words, while meditation sessions can help you feel calmer right now, the long-term effects could literally change your life. It’s not just a technique to relax your mind temporarily: it’s a powerful tool to improve your physical and mental health.
Five easy meditation techniques
1. Breathing meditation
To practice this meditation technique, simply focus on your breath. To begin, you may want to take two or three deep breaths, to help your body relax. However once you’re relaxed, don’t force yourself to breathe in any particular way.
Simply focus on your breathing. Become aware of it. Notice the air coming in through your nose. Pay attention to the position of your chest or belly as you inhale and exhale. After a minute or so, you may notice that your breaths are longer.
There’s no rule when it comes to the position of your body: you could practice this technique even if you’re standing. However I recommend either sitting with your back straight, or lying down. It will help your body relax.
It’s also advisable to keep your eyes closed during the whole session. When you meditate, you may get distracted or have random thoughts, especially during the first times, so it’s important to be in a relaxed state, almost as if you were trying to sleep.
In order not to get distracted by noise, you can practice the meditation in a quiet room, or listen to relaxing music or white noise (a sound that blocks out almost all frequencies).
2. Counting meditation
This may be the easiest technique. All you have to do is slowly count to 100 or higher. If it sounds like too much time, try counting to 50. Keep your eyes closed, and don’t use your voice: do it silently. Just focus on the numbers in your mind.
Surprisingly, this is a great way to instantly shift your focus. Something as simple as counting is enough to change your mental state. As you practice this technique, and count up to 20, 30, and so on, you will gradually feel more relaxed and more aware.
Typically you will notice the biggest changes toward the end of the session. You’ll probably feel extremely relaxed, and you may find it difficult to move your body (in a good way, as if you were sleeping). At the same time, your mental clarity will increase significantly.
If you keep having random or negative thoughts, don’t worry: simply focus on the counting process. Eventually your mind will concentrate and quiet down, and won’t think of anything else.
If you want, you can breathe out as you think of each number. This way you’ll be focusing on your breathing as well. Keep in mind, there’s no need to breathe deeply. Just slow down, and exhale as you visualize or think of each number in your mind.
3. Mindfulness meditation
Almost any activity could turn into a mindful meditation session as long as you do it slowly, and pay close attention to your senses. You want to focus on what you see, hear, and feel in the present moment.
In today’s world, doing things faster, or compulsively, seems to have become the norm. The same is true for multitasking — doing several things at once. Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t work like that: we can only truly focus on one thing at a time.
As I mentioned, you can practice mindfulness during almost any kind of activity. One example is mindful eating. Instead of eating a meal while checking your phone, watching TV, or thinking about your tasks, take your time and just focus on the act of eating.
Look at your meal. Notice its colors, size, shape, and smell. If it’s something you can grab with your hands, touch it, and feel it against your skin. What is the texture? Is it heavy, or light? Is it smooth? Then as you eat the food, eat slowly, and resist the temptation of thinking about anything else. Feel all the different flavors, and chew many times before swallowing the food.
Another example is mindful walking, ideally in nature. Again, you want to pay attention to what you see, hear, and feel. It could be the wind caressing your face, it could be the birds chirping, the beautiful trees, the grass, the sunlight.
Also, walk slower than usual, and pay attention to your body. Does your heart rate or body temperature change? Does your posture change as you are walking? Are you breathing faster? Can you feel the texture of the ground?
Whatever activity you choose, take your time, and focus with great intensity.
4. Mantra meditation
A mantra is a sound, phrase, or word that can be chanted or repeated silently during meditation. The most common mantra is Om: it’s considered to be a sacred sound in Hinduism, and it represents both our soul and the universe.
Of course, you can use any other sound or phrase, as long as it resonates with you. Feel free to experiment until you find the one that you love and you’re comfortable using.
One of the benefits of using mantras is that as you repeat them it will be easier for your mind to focus and eliminate any unwanted thoughts. If you chant the mantra, your body will vibrate, so you will notice physical changes as well.
When meditating, most beginners find it difficult to concentrate. That’s why it can be useful to give your brain a very simple, repetitive task — such as breathing, counting, or repeating a certain sound.
Make sure you practice the mantra meditation in a comfortable position. If you want, you can listen to relaxing music, or even mantra chants (you can find many on the internet).
5. Guided meditation
The last easy meditation technique you can try is called guided meditation: this is a session where you are supposed to follow what somebody else says.
This may happen either when you listen to an audio recording, or in person (for example, at a yoga class, where you’ll be surrounded by other people: this will create a different atmosphere, and may make it easier for you to concentrate).
Typically, the guided meditation will begin with a progressive relaxation where you gradually relax and focus on different parts of your body. Then, once your mind is calmer, you may be asked to visualize a particular image, or shape, or color.
This technique is basically effortless because all you have to do is follow the instructions. When you close your eyes and listen to someone else’s voice for a while, your mental state will change. It’s almost as if you were hypnotized (in fact, hypnotherapy is very similar to guided meditation).
Once you learn how to perform the guided meditation, you could then do it on your own.
Final thoughts and summary
If you have the discipline to practice meditation often, and make it a habit, you will definitely be able to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Five easy techniques anyone can try out are:
- Breathing meditation (where you relax and pay attention to you breath as it is, without changing it in any way)
- Counting meditation (where you silently count to 100 or higher)
- Mindfulness meditation (which can be done during any activity, as long as you slow down and focus on what you see, feel, and hear)
- Mantra meditation (where you chant or silently repeat a sound, syllable, word, or phrase that resonates with you)
- Guided meditation (where you listen to a teacher or an audio recording)
Thank you for reading this article! I hope you will try out one of the techniques I mentioned, and benefit from it.