One of the biggest reasons why people struggle to stick to a meditation practice is that they lack purpose and don’t feel inspired to meditate. Let’s be real. If you don’t have a “why“ and cannot come up with a reason why you should meditate, it is going to be so much harder.
As a beginner, it helps to use “training wheels” and all the tricks you can find to help you overcome common new meditationers’ challenges.
But even the committed hit some roadblocks on the way to meditation consistency. Here are 6 things you can do to make meditation as a beginner easier for you.
1. Have a beginner’s mind
Your choice of meditation will help, as will keeping things simple to start.
Choose a simple meditation type:
There are various types of meditation: Mindfulness Meditation, Visualization, Guided Meditation, Vipassana, Loving-Kindness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM), Chakra Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, and so many others. In my coaching, I start everyone with Mindfulness Meditation because it’s one of the simplest types of meditation there is.
Keep it short:
I also recommend that for the first few months as you work to develop a daily habit of meditating, that you keep your practice short. Meditate for 5 or 10 minutes and no more than 15 minutes for the first six months.
Forget about trying to clear your mind:
Most people want to do meditation as a way to relax and clear their heads, and so that is what they try to do right out the gate. Don’t try to stop thinking, that will only make you want to think more. Plus, not even some yogis who have been practicing for years are able to completely clear their minds. Thoughts will come, no matter how advanced you get in your practice. Instead, focus on your breath and follow other cues you are given — such as scan your body, repeat a mantra, visualize yourself in a relaxing location, or listen to the background music.
2. Get Comfortable
For most beginners, sitting in a proper meditation position is a challenge. We’re not used to thinking about our posture as we move through our day and so sitting tall for meditation feels like really hard work. Most people naturally sit back on their sitting bones in what’s called a posterior pelvic tilt but when we meditate we want a slight anterior pelvic tilt so that the curve of your lower back can remain neutral. You will also want to make sure your hips are higher than your knees so you don’t restrict blood flow to your feet and lower legs. To put it simply, in order to sit tall, you want to lean forward a bit, rather than lean back.
And if that feels too hard or you don’t yet have a meditation pillow or cushion, try a variation on the corpse pose.
3. Meditate at the same time
Find the time that works for you every day and make that your meditation time. For many people, it’s first thing in the morning before they engage with the world or check their phones. Right before bed is also a good time to meditate.
4. Stop saying meditation is hard
If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.– Joyce Meyer
Getting the hang (and benefits) of meditation takes time and practice, sure, but it isn’t hard. What’s difficult for most people is the process of retraining their easily distracted minds. So, instead of telling yourself that meditation is hard, remind yourself that you’re attempting to reverse a habit that is so ingrained and habitual, that it will take time and as much dedication as you can muster.
In this way, you will be focusing on the real problem and will be more likely to solve it.
5. Meditate with Others
When you practice with others, the “community silence” helps you to quiet your own thoughts.
We, humans, are social creatures. If you feel isolated and alone, you’re less likely to stick to habits that might benefit you, no matter how much you say you want to. If you can’t find a meditation community near you, try our meditation subscription, or find a friend or family member to partner with. When you can, attend meditation retreats, join online meditation groups, and look to build your own meditation community, even in a patchwork style, if that’s what it takes.
6. Progressively, learn to refocus your thoughts
Make it easy for yourself to meditate by practicing in a quiet soothing environment. Closing our eyes when we meditate is one way to draw our attention inward. Try these tips as well:
- Use soothing music or white noise to create atmosphere.
- Create a bridge practice between daily life and meditation. This might be listening to calming music for 15 minutes before you meditate, or reading a scripture if you’re a scripture-reader. Doing something else that starts the relaxation process will bring you to your practice with a clearer mind.
- Dim overhead lights and if you’re meditating in the evening or before bed, light candles (scented ones are great!)
- Tune in to the process of breathing. You might want to feel the breath in your belly as a way to physically connect with your breathing.
- Don’t attempt to empty your thoughts, instead, learn to watch your thoughts without engaging with them. This is one way that focusing on the breath helps.