This post about how to start meditating is a reader request, and I’m so glad it was requested. I am not a meditation expert, but I did start my own regular practice, which is why I think this post should be relatable and helpful.
I’ve been meditating for more than two years, which is crazy to me. I told myself I wanted to start meditating for many years, having read about so many of the benefits of meditation for so long. However, I had also mentally told myself that I probably couldn’t do it. I told myself I didn’t have time to fit anything else into my routine. Well … there were moments of my life that that was true (hello new-mom-period-with-an-infant-who-didn’t-sleep), but once things regulated a bit over here, I finally gave it a go. And I’m so happy that I did.
I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience meditating today, and then get into how to start meditating.
First of all, my experience: I wrote this post about what I learned from my first 90 days of meditating, so you can go back and check that out if you’d like. But I will tell you that two years into my meditation journey, I am still a total novice. I feel like every time I meditate, I’m working toward focusing on my breath and picturing myself from an aerial view (which is a helpful visualization for me).
While I wouldn’t say I’m a different person now that I meditate, I will say that I am more mindful, a bit less reactionary, and I’m much more in tune with my breath, and I’m more more grateful too. My daily meditations are like exercise for my mind, and I stay consistent, even when I don’t feel like it. That alone is something that makes me proud and it goes a long way. And anyone that I know that has started meditating regularly, has felt positive impacts in other areas of their lives as well, especially with relieving stress.
Now, let’s get into some tips …
How to start meditating and why you should start
I know that meditation can seem like some fluffy idea that you don’t have time for. But the actual act of showing up each day for a meditation (short or long) is powerful. There have been studies that show those who have a regular meditation practice can actually change and grow their brains, as well as have a host of other psychological benefits, like decreased depression, decreased anxiety, and even decreased chronic pain (more on this here).
But let’s get back to you. I think the best way for you to get started is just to start. Don’t wait for everything else in your life to be perfect to start. In fact, don’t over think it at all. 🙂
1. Download the Headspace app.
Once again, I’m speaking from experience here, and I began with the Headspace app, and I think it’s an excellent place to start. Headspace is a “guided meditation,” which means a narrator will lead you through what to do, possibly along with some background music. Using a guided meditation makes it so much easier to figure out what you’re doing. And if you download Headspace onto your phone, you can actually choose the get-started program too.
I found that the narrator on Headspace tells you everything you need to know to begin, even how to sit, how to breathe and what to expect. Last time I checked, Headspace had a free 14-day trial, so there’s nothing to lose.
I began with Headspace, then I moved to the Calm app, and I wouldn’t suggest the Calm app as a place for a newbie. I’m actually planning to go back to Headspace soon, or potentially try Aura, which was recommended to me. Here’s a list of five popular meditation apps, but once again, I would suggest keeping it simple and starting with Headspace.
If you have the Peloton app for workouts, there are meditations there, and some of them are good, but I wouldn’t recommend beginning there, because you don’t get the basics planned out for you.
Once you get going, you can explore other types of meditation, like solo sessions or mantras. But for the purposes of this “how to” post, I think a guided meditation is key.
2. Set aside the same time each day to meditate. Just five minutes at a time will do.
Most people find success meditating first thing in the morning as a way to set the tone for the day. When I first started meditating, I actually set my alarm to get up a little earlier than usual, so I could get it done before Brady woke up. However, this doesn’t mean you have to do your meditation in the morning. You could also do your meditation every single day before you eat lunch, or every single day after your workout. It’s up to you when you think you can fit it in regularly, and then do it every single day, as part of your routine.
A few times when we’ve had visitors or traveled, I’ve done my meditation in the afternoon, and it’s actually a nice reset to get back into the day.
Overall, I think any time you do it is fine, but in order to be consistent, shoot for the same time each day. And it doesn’t have to be long — even three minutes is beneficial. My average meditation is 10 minutes tops.
3. Create a meditation space. And use it every time.
Your meditation space can be as simple as a chair in the corner of your bedroom that you like. No matter what, I think it’s best to be sitting up straight during your session so you are alert. But you can do that anywhere — on the couch, on the side of your bed, on the floor or on a chair.
The important part is to make your meditation spot a comfortable spot with blankets, pillows, a fan, natural sunlight, plants, a candle or whatever you want to put there. This will help your mind and body know you are in a safe spot.
I like to sit up in my bed to do my meditation, and it’s worked well for me. But I also have considered getting a new chair in the corner of my room for the future. Also, it could be fun to deck out your meditation space if you can to make it super zen-like, but once again, not necessary.
4. Invest in noise-canceling headphones that are comfortable.
My meditations have felt a lot more pleasant since I started using these over-the-ear headphones. I started out with my Airpods, but the sound quality wasn’t as good, and I could often hear Rudy barking or Dave talking to Brady.
While investing in nice headphones is an expense, it’s something to put on your Christmas or wish list for the future. Of course, any headphones will work in the beginning, but studio-quality over-the-ear ones sure feel luxurious. And if that’s something that will make sitting down to meditate more enticing for you, upgrade your gear.
5. Turn your phone on “do not disturb.” And let anyone you live with know about your meditation time.
Dave and Brady both know when I do my meditations every morning, and this is essential to my practice. Although sometimes Brady comes in to visit, they usually give me that 10 minutes in the morning alone. I keep my phone on “do not disturb” so no notifications come through as well.
Because it’s not super easy to stay focused on your breathing and stay in the meditation, it’s to your benefit to prevent any other distractions ahead of time that you can. I wouldn’t try to meditate in front of the TV, at your desk or anywhere that you could easily be pulled out of the zone.
Keep everyone around you in the loop as to your meditation plans, and that could help you be consistent moving forward. It’s also like a mini-accountability group, if the people in your life ask you how your meditation went each day.
6. Remember that a meditation practice is a lot like an exercise routine. Show up daily, even when you don’t want to. And no meditation is a bad meditation.
There will be days where you feel very into your meditation, and there will be days where all your mind does is wander. But the act of showing up is truly part of the benefit. Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re super busy, these are the times when showing up to be mindful will help you the most. And on hectic days when you are very stressed, these are the days when you most need your meditation, so show up for yourself.
I think it’s also important to note that you can’t be bad at meditation.
7. Just start.
I know, I’ve been there. It seems daunting. For some reason, I thought it would be so hard to actually begin meditating, which is why I put it off for so long. But really, you just need to download a guided meditation app, sit down, close your eyes, hit play and give it a go. You don’t have to be perfectly ready, you don’t have to know what you’re doing, and you don’t even have to commit to a life-long practice … just start. How about now?
Thank you for reading this post on how to start meditating. I promise, you won’t regret giving it a try. You can’t be bad at it, so there’s nothing to worry about and nothing to lose. Good luck, my friends! Stay mindful!
Other posts you may like …
- Three helpful mindset shifts I’ve made recently
- What I’ve learned from the first 90 days of starting a meditation practice
Questions of the day
Have you ever meditated?
How do you approach mindfulness in your life?