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Meditation 101: How to Start

Photo by Christopher Daniels

We mentioned the benefits of meditation in the article: Finding Clarity & Inner Stillness.

If meditation is new to you, this article suggests several ways how you can start today. These suggestions are all based on my personal experience testing out various techniques over the years. I have personally found these to be helpful and hope that they can add value to your wellbeing.

1. Zazen or what swamiji calls “Just Sit”. From Zen techniques and also used in transcendental meditation. This is the simplest technique of meditation:

  1. Find a comfortable place. Sit with your back straight. It’s important that you are not lying down or slouching as you might fall sleep. Make sure you won’t be disturbed by closing the door and turning off or placing the phone in silent mode.
  2. Let your hands rest naturally and comfortably in your lap, or on top of each other.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Start breathing deeply and fully, eventually to a natural breathing rhythm.
  5. Focus on your breath and nothing else.
  6. When a thought comes, acknowledge the thought, let it pass, and go back to focusing on your breath.

2. “Being with Sound”, An alternative technique to the above:

  1. Find really calming music, either light classical or nature music. I recommend Stan Richardson’s Shakuhachi Meditation Music (Click here for digital mp3 purchases).
  2. Do A-C from above.
  3. Focus on the sound of music and nothing else. Put all your attention on the sound.
  4. When a thought comes, acknowledge it, let it pass, and go back to focusing on the sound.

3. “Nithya Dhyan“. This is a beautiful 35 minute guided meditation designed by Nithyananda. After practicing meditation for 10 years, this is the one I follow regularly. It consists of five-part meditation taking seven minutes each. Each step is designed to help you go deeper and calm the noise in your mind. Techniques for each step originate from Tibetan Buddhist, ancient Christianity, Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, and Sufism. You can order the CD for the guided meditation here ($10).

4. Guided Meditations by Deepak Chopra. This is a great guided meditation CD for beginners. Techniques on gratitude and forgiveness are very enlightening. If you are serious about meditating or have experiences with other techniques, these mediations may not feel as effective for you. Give yourself an hour or two to go through this CD the first time, to identify which of the meditations you connect most with. Build a routine around those particular mediations.

5. Local Meditation Groups. I found it helpful, especially when starting out to find a group of people who regularly meditate together. It helps to keep the energy and momentum going for your own practices, but also, I’ve found the energy field to be more intense when I am sharing the experience with others people, both friends and strangers. It’s always so calming to sit together with a group of peaceful people. I practice with a group on Sunday mornings in Mercer Island, 2-3 times a month. For me, leaving the weekly satsang feels like leaving a day at the spa. I feel refreshed and centered. Here are some ideas to find a group near you:

  1. Zen meditation group – They usually have group zazen sessions several times a week with sessions between 30-60 minutes long. The hours for these (in my area) tend to be quite early in the morning.
  2. Buddhist temples. Try doing a google search for a Buddhist temple in your local area. They typically have group meditation sessions several times a day. Lots of options in terms of time slot. The techniques may vary at different temples, but the underlying purpose is the same. In Seattle, I really liked Sakya Monastery, a Tibetan monastery.
  3. Life Bliss Foundation weekly Satsangs. Typically gathering starts with a video on life issues and consciousness, ending with Nithya Dhyan.
  4. Eckhart Tolle Silent Groups – Typical format consist of silent meditation for 10-15 minutes at the start and end of a meet-up. Including a 30-60 minute video in between. You can find a list of contacts for your city from eckharttolle.com or check if there’s a local meetup in your area.
  5. Meetup.com Groups – Meetup.com is pretty cool for finding local interest groups with in-person gatherings. Try doing a search for the word “meditation” in your area code.

For the wellbeing of your soul, take five minutes to be still, be quiet and let your mind rest. Slowly move up to ten minutes and higher. Create a habit by regularly meditating over several weeks and notice the effect on your life. Cheers to your wellbeing!

* For First time sitters: i know it can be challenging to sit and wait without doing anything at the beginning, but keep going, I promise you will notice the difference. I am very interested in how you feel during and after your first try. Please share your experiences with me. I’d love to hear them.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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34 thoughts on Meditation 101: How to Start

  1. What a timely post! With all the extra room in my new apartment, I was thinking of dedicating some space to taking up meditation. I’ve bookmarked this to come back to when I’m ready.

    Have you tried the Holosync CDs? I have a sample meditation audio CD they sent me, but it always makes me fall asleep before it’s over.

  2. Hmm… I’ve never heard of Holosync. Any good? How long is it? Thanks for the comment Marina!

  3. Read your blog today… all your posts are beautiful.You are doing a wonderful job here giving lots of people a reson to think and contemplate.keep going….lots of love
    Anu

  4. Thank you so much for the sweet message Anuradha. I appreciate the words of encouragement. Love, Tina

  5. Hi Tina,

    Always happy to find great stuff on meditation as your article here is. Thanks for all the additional resources as well.

    Best,
    Anmol

  6. “When a thought comes, acknowledge the thought, let it pass, and go back to focusing on your breath.”
    This was really hard, until I read a post (in Ririan Project I guess) that told me that this was simple as thinking repeatedly in the word “peace”, or whatever the word is in your language.

  7. Dear Tina!
    Just came across this post as I found you following me on twitter.
    As for meditative music, we have created an album that is called Zen Blues.
    We wanted some quiet music with depth and substance, different from the usual new age stuff.
    So we did a minimalistic rhodes / e – guitar album that people love for calming down. It can be previewed at http://www.cdbaby.com/bluestarmusic2

    I hope this music adds to more peace and stillness.

    Peter Blue

  8. Hey Tina,

    This site has many different techniques and pretty nice description of meditation: http://www.meditationsociety.com/what.html .

    Everybody is different but Vipassana method is worth a look.

  9. If you want to experience inner peace and clarity every day, check out Sahaja Yoga Meditation – it’s FREE! ‘Sahaja Yoga is a method of meditation which brings a breakthrough in showing how to achieve ‘thoughtless awareness’. Your potential within is just waiting to be tapped. :) Susiji

  10. David

    Thanx a bunch.

    This is the kind of motivation that I needed, along with some resources I could use to successfully engage in this vital practice.

  11. Hi Tina
    Nice starting point. Some suggest body awareness techniques similar to item 1, like the “Relaxation Response”. These can be a good starter but are less suitable long term. TM itself is like #1 but uses a mantra or word for the attention. Again, for long term use, its worth using an appropriate mantra. Om for example encourages monk tendencies so is less suitable for an active life.

    I would also say the key is comfort – don’t get too obsessed with posture, noise, or other distractions. The mind is always filtering out a zillion things so it’s effortless to just pay attention during the practice. But yes, not lying down as that encourages sleep. As one commented, you may also find you need to take better care of your sleep routines. If you are not rested, there will be a tendency to fall asleep when you meditate. The body will take what it needs.

    Once you have a deep meditation practice, you may find guided meditations shallow. But they may be a good way to start.

    And groups are great. At first, for a framework and understanding of your practice. But later, to amplify the benefits. I still go to groups and retreats when i can – I’ve been meditating over 30 years. ;-)

  12. This is a wonderful post! Thanks for putting this up there – for someone like me, a beginner, this definitely helped out a bunch.

  13. Have you tried the Quantum Light Breath guided meditation? I had a friend recommend it and it’s AMAZING. I’ve tried a few guided meditations but nothing ever like this before.

    The first time I tried it, I was giggling uncontrollably for 20 minutes. The next time, I had to lie down half way through because the sensations were so powerful.

    It’s really, really… Umm… Well, it’s just incredible.

  14. Could I just say such a help to search out person who definitely understands what they’re talking about on the internet. You definitely recognize how to bring an issue to light and enable it to be valuable. Even more people should study it and understand it aspect of the story. I cant believe you’re not very popular because you definitely have the gift.

  15. When I done my very first meditation at the end I couldnt stop smiling it was like when I took my first anti-depressant smiling like a cat this lasted for about an hour.Then I think it was my third meditation I felt horrible and that lasted for about 30 minutes it nearlly turned me off but I later found out that I was doing an hour at a time and was told I was doing to much for a beginner.I now do 30 minutes . I bought a cd in a charity shop for £1.00 the sound of rain and a little thunder.Which is relaxing in itself.I play that on my laptop now with head phones.I have been depressed in the past but a couple of days and I would pull through but this depression has lasted over a year and its been much deeper than any I have had in the past.I became ill last year with an eating disorder achalasia so I cant eat meals just liquids and that pushed me over the egde really.I havent eaten a meal since before last christmas.I use to love making food in a wok and became good at it I would go out buy all the herbs and spices and look forward to making the meal and watch a film on tv all that has gone and I feel so lost.Now I just make smoothies with a blender and make all differant kinds so to get differant vitamins and minerals in me.Life has become hard now as money getting harder to come by with all the cuts .I feel I am quite a sensative person and I pick up on things like peoples moods and stresses which plays heavy on my mind.My son is also going through a bad patch of mental health.I have been told that there is a kind of strain in the family were the men suffer from mental health my dad and my pamp also suffered they were reclusive and nervous people.I have a friend that is agro phobic his dad is the same also so I think its true mental health can run in families.I would like to know what you think if it is at all possible?I have got to say you look so happy with your baby and wish you all the happeness in the world and thank you for such a clever and inspireing site

  16. Olga

    I’ve meditated for the first time today using the “Just Sit” technique. At first it was extremely hard to still my mind. I’ve regretted having a cup of coffee 5 minutes ago;-) The sounds of the house were attracting my attention as well as the sound of the rain outside. Concentrating on the moment of stillness between breathing in and out (which I remember from guided meditation with davidji from the Chopra centre) helped a lot. Then I noticed that it’s much easier for me to visualise something rather than just let my thoughts pass by. So I started imagining that my chakras open, I started seeing myself the kind of person I would like to become, walking in the sunlight etc. Before starting the meditation I actually thought that I would be aware of the time passing by and will involuntarily count minutes. However, when the alarm rang, it took my quite by surprise. I’ve already made plans to prolong my meditation time to 6 minutes tomorrow. Thank you for your advice!

  17. praful

    dear tina

    thaks for this beautiful articals which will really great to overcome from depression. this posts really helping me to be relax & peaceful mind really great work.

    praful.

  18. Hrvoje

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    This was my first time I’ve tried meditation. It’s amazing how much better I feel after just 15 minutes of this.

    Thank you!

    Hrvoje

  19. Highly energetic blog, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

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