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When it comes to meditation, emerging research makes a compelling case for giving sitting a try – reduced stress, depression and anxiety, and improved wellbeing and quality of relationships. But where to begin? How does one actually get started in meditation? Or know if it’s a good personal fit?
Below are just a few of the ways one can explore growing a meditation practice that I’ve personally found meaningful. I’ve also included a basic breath meditation at the very end if where you’d like to begin is right here and right now.
If you have any questions about starting (or kickstarting) a practice please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
Many local community and yoga centers offer introductory series. Typically 4 – 8 weeks long, these series offer structured guidance around the nuts and bolts of what mindfulness meditation is, establishing a personal practice, and finding ways to apply mindfulness in daily life. For me, the bonus in learning alongside other people curious about this path and with similar life questions, is one inevitably is reminded of our common humanity. (Learn more about my Intro Series here.)
Apps like Insight Timer (what I use) and HeadSpace (also popular) feature countless self-directed and guided meditations ranging from 1 minute to an hour. Choose your length, choose a theme and get a taste for both how simple and diverse a meditation practice can be.
Community Sitting Groups
Many cities also have various community sitting groups that meet weekly or monthly. Often hosted by a Buddhist or Mindfulness Center, these groups can be a wonderful way to dive into the nuances of mindfulness through formal sitting practices alongside group discussions. Again, these can also be lovely opportunities to connect with like-minded people.
Of course one can also give meditation a try on one’s own in the comfort of one’s home. Whether sitting on a cushion or chair, standing or reclined, essentially if one can breathe, one can meditate. See below for a simple and brief meditation practice great for beginners as well as more experienced practitioners who would appreciate a bit of guided support.
Basic Breath Meditation
You can do this practice for a minute or longer. Use a timer if it’s helpful.
- Find a comfortable position, one in which you feel both alert and relaxed.
- Soften your gaze, or close your eyes all together if that feels appropriate.
- Bring attention to your natural breathing rhythm.
- Notice where you feel your breath most prominently. It may be the tip of your nostrils…in your chest,…in your belly…you’re bringing attention to a place in your body where you easily feel sensations of breathing.
- Become curious. Perhaps noticing the temperature, texture, pace…of inhalations and exhalations.
- If your mind wanders, know this is normal. Use this moment of awareness to gently return attention back to breath.
- When you’re ready to transition out, gently open your eyes and stretch your body as feels comfortable. You have just meditated.