If you’ve ever been curious about meditation or why it’s something you may want to start doing, this meditation for beginners post is the perfect place to start! [post contains affiliate links, which means we make a small commission, at NO additional cost to you, if a purchase is made. thanks for supporting north country nest!]
I had heard about meditation here and there growing up but it wasn’t something that I ever felt the need to explore. And because I had this image in my mind of chanting, incense and illicit drug use, I assumed it wasn’t really my thing and didn’t give it much thought.
It wasn’t until last spring that I started hearing more and more about meditation and how helpful it is for ‘calming the mind’ that my curiosity started to get the best of me.
If you’re anything like me, even when you’re ‘relaxing’ you’re still doing a million things. When Brett and I would be sitting on the couch, catching up on the latest show, I would be doing some work on my computer or thinking about the million and one things that I needed to get done. During the weekends when we’d be with family or friends, my mind would often wander to the client work that I should be doing or what house project we were behind on.
It would not. turn. off.
The last straw was this past July. It was the absolute perfect day; Brett and I spent the morning on the lake, went out to eat for lunch and slowly made our way to an outdoor mall. We perused shops, tried on clothes, looked for things we didn’t need. The weather was beautiful and it should have been completely stress free.
Except the entire time, all I could think about was what I should be doing at home. What cleaning needed to be done. What projects on the house I could get a head start on. What client work I could catch up on.
And did I mention this day was my birthday? Yup. The ONE day when it’s socially acceptable to relax and do nothing… and all I could do was think about how many other things were more important than what I was doing right then and there.
The next morning I sat down and meditated for the first time. I’ve been doing it nearly every morning since and I can promise you – it’s made a difference.
What is Meditation?
Headspace is a popular meditation app. I haven’t used it myself but here’s their basic definition of meditation:
Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.
Why Start Meditating?
A common misconception is that meditation is about shutting off your mind. From what I’ve learned and practiced, it’s more about becoming aware of the thoughts and being curious about them. By being aware of the constant stream of conversation or to-do lists or the should-haves or what-ifs that are racing through your mind, you’re more apt to focus and turn them “off.”
We chatted about mindfulness a few weeks ago in this post and meditating is another way to bring mindfulness into your life.
By becoming aware of the thoughts, you’re being more present and aware of your surroundings.
On a more scientific level, the benefits of meditating are becoming more and more profound. From helping you focus to reducing stress to having better emotional control, practicing meditation can have significant effects on your cognitive abilities. If you are all about those scientific papers and studies, click here for a list relating to meditation.
Meditation for Beginners… How to Get Started
I was pretty skeptical the first time I started meditating. And I also had absolutely no clue where to start.
“Do I just sit down and close my eyes?” “What happens when a thought comes up?” “What on earth am I supposed to think about?” “How am I supposed to sit on the floor for that long?” “What happens if I fall asleep?” “What happens when I want to be done?” “How long does this last?”
The list of questions goes on and on and on.
Since I wasn’t too keen on sitting in silence, I opted for a guided meditation and that’s what I’ve been doing now for the past four months.
What’s a guided meditation, you ask?
It’s someone talking you through the meditation. It seems counterintuitive because you’re focusing on that person instead of your breath but it’s great for beginners. Or, if you’re like me, you like being told what to do so it’s one less thing to think about. I find the voices calming and they always seem to know when I’ve drifted off into another thought pattern.
Want to Know More?
10% Happier by Dan Harris. As I mentioned in the beginning, this book was my informal introduction to meditation. It’s an easy read and understanding the benefits from a naturally skeptical person helped put the idea of working meditation into my daily life approachable and attainable. I cannot recommend this one enough if you’re just getting started.
10% Happier App (click here for Android \ click here for Apple). At the end of the book, the author Dan Harris mentions an app that he developed with guided meditations. They range in time from three minutes (totally doable for a beginner!) to 30+ minutes. They’re guided which means someone is talking you through the process and there are tons of free ones available to everyone (along with a paid upgrade that allows you access to more options.
Calm. This is another app for meditations. I haven’t used it myself but several friends have recommended it, with nothing but good things to say!
Real Happiness: The Power of Mediation by Sharon Salzberg. I haven’t read this one but I’ve done several of the guided meditations given by Sharon on the 10% Happier app. She is a big deal in the meditation world and knows her stuff. If you’re looking for a more structured start, this would be a good one to pick up.
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris. This is the follow up to his 10% Happier book. It dives deeper into the how-to of meditation.
All our best,
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