How To Learn To Meditate

By Ameera Mills. Updated: March 12, 2019
How To Learn To Meditate

Meditation is an practice that has become increasingly popular in the West. Although its origins lie in certain religious and philosophical traditions of Asia, it is a practice that is useful and beneficial to anyone in any situation. But how does one learn to meditate? Luckily, there are many meditation techniques for beginners which are great if this is your first time trying to meditate.

For more about mediation benefits, types of mediation and how to learn to meditate, keep reading here at OneHOWTO.

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How to meditate for beginners: types

The first thing you should know is that there are different types of meditation. However, broadly speaking, we could differentiate them into two main types: religious and/or spiritual meditation and secular meditation. The difference between one system of meditation and another depends on the objectives of the meditative practice but, despite this, the steps and processes that one follows are very similar. This shows us that when it comes to meditation the most important thing is learning how to meditate, the rest will depend on your particular goals as a practitioner.

Religious or spiritual meditation

This original meditation ‘type’ is based off of India traditions and origins(Hinduism and Buddhism). In this case, meditation is carried out with the aim of reaching a higher mental state. In the case of Hinduism, the ultimate goal of meditation is a spiritual union of the individual soul with the Absolute. In the case of Buddhism, the goal of meditation is focused on overcoming attachment, leading to a state of Nirvana in which all passions, desires and suffering cease.

Secular meditation

In this case, the objective of secular meditation is not motivated rather by a psychological goal then a spiritual one. The goal of secular meditation is to calm the mind and reach a state of inner peace free from anxiety. This type of meditation has developed specifically in Western countries, where there is no meditative tradition associated with the spiritual dimension and where meditation is understood as a tool that improves self control and self-knowledge. This state manifests itself, also, with quantifiable physical elements such as: decrease in heart rate, regulation of serotonin or dopamine, etc.

For a more detailed explanation of all of the above, we recommend reading our article where look at what are the different types of meditation.

How To Learn To Meditate - How to meditate for beginners: types

Mediation techniques for beginners: mediation benefits

Meditation is a practice that allows us to improve our mental state as well as our relationship with ourselves. Some of the most common mediation benefits include:

  • Firstly, it is worth mentioning that meditation offers you a greater state of tranquility, since meditation serves as a cure for and prevention of stress.
  • Those who practice meditation also highlight its relationship with an improvement in self-control and decision-making. This is because, by decreasing the presence of substances such as cortisol and adrenaline, an individual can act more rationally, rather than passionately.
  • Not all meditation benefits are psychological, this practice also has multiple tangible physical benefits. It improves, for example, the state of some cardiovascular system diseases.
  • In addition, meditation has also been linked to weight-loss. This weight-loss is not due to the practice itself, but rather to its aid when trying to reduce anxiety. Consequently, this leads to a reduction in unnecessary food intake.

For more about meditation benefits, read about how does mindfulness mediation affect your brain and body.

How to learn to meditate: step by step

Although there are different forms and methods of meditation, here is a list of ten ideal steps for meditation for beginners:

  1. Prepare your environment: the first thing you should keep in mind is that, to meditate, your environment needs to be appropriate. You don’t need to surround yourself with a deserted island, but we do recommend finding a quiet space with little light and the absence of external distractions.
  2. Prepare: it is essential that you do not meditate hungry or right after eating, as this could distract you. As with avoiding external distractions, we need to also focus on avoiding internal ones. We recommend setting a timer of about 10-15 minutes the first few times you practice, allowing you to get used to the time without pressure.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes: to be able to meditate well, it is necessary to feel comfortable without any time pressures. Zafu meditation cushions, for example, are specially designed for meditate sitting, although any normal cushion can fulfill the same function. In the case that you want to meditate lying down, it is essential that you do it on a mat or carpet.
  4. The right posture: once you have prepared your space well, you should choose the most appropriate and comfortable position to meditate. There are different meditative postures to choose from, although the most common is to meditate sitting in the lotus position or lying down (what in yoga is referred to as the lotus position). Both positions are equally as good, it normally depends on the person. However, lotus can sometimes prove to be slightly difficult for beginners, therefore we recommend that you start meditating lying down. For more, we recommend reading our article about yoga poses for non-flexible people.
  5. Start with slow breathing: once you have adopted the correct posture, you should start through slow breath. To do this, let the air flow naturally through your body; breath in and breath out naturally and freely, while focusing on your breath. In order to meditate correctly, one needs to learn how to focus solely on their breath without modifying it.
  6. Breathe through your stomach: center your breathing on what is known as "breathing with your stomach". This breathing method consists of directing your breath towards the lower part of the lungs, in such a way that the diaphragm exerts pressure on the stomach. Your gut should also swell and deflate with each inhalation and exhalation. This breathing allows the rib cage to remain still, aiding in the relaxation process.
  7. Think of nothing: once you’ve learnt to focus on only your breath it’s time to free your mind. This is probably the most complicated step of any meditation, since the mind is always in constant motion. Keep in mind that "thinking of nothing" is an expression, since this is practically impossible. Ideally, you should focus solely on breathing. When you notice that you are distracted by other thoughts, keep calm and redirect attention to your breath.
  8. Note the loss of touch: as your meditative state progresses, you will notice that the touch of your own skin, as well as the weight of your body, will begin to fade. This is achieved only in the most advanced cases of meditation, so it can take years to master this state of mind and body. This sensation usually begins with the toes and fingers and, little by little, spreads to the upper extremities. If this does occur, bear in mind that this is normal and nothing to be afraid of.
  9. Enjoy this peace of mind: once you’ve reached this state, this is the level of full development within a meditative practice. At this time, all you have to do is to try remain in this state of stillness and emptiness for as long as you consider necessary.
  10. Return: finally, when you feel that your meditative practice is complete, you can begin to recover back to your normal mental state. To do this, start by slowly moving your fingers and toes and lightly blinking. This will allow you to slowly leave your meditative state. Then, slowly, move the rest of the body. When leaving a meditative state it is important to do it slowly and consciously, otherwise you might get dizzy and/or feel overwhelmed.

    For more about this wonderful and beneficial practice, we recommend reading:

    This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

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