breez logo
Mental well-being profile

How to Meditate 101

|

Update 04.04.2024

Read time:

icon time

15 min

How to Meditate 101

What do you think about when you hear the word “meditation”? Is it a Gen Z thing that comes with avocado toast and lavender latte? Or is it something complicated that only Shaolin monks can do correctly? Actually, none of these options explains the essence of meditation.

So, what does this term mean? And why do 80% of successful people engage in meditation practices regularly? Read the article to find out.

🧘What is meditation?

Can you imagine that 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot? It means that we wake up, brush our teeth, go to work, cook food, and even communicate with loved ones without breaking stable behavior patterns. But why? Our brain is lazy. 

Like most of us, it doesn’t want to do unnecessary work and create new neuronal connections by “breaking the system.” Thus, most of the time, we try to get new results by doing the same things over and over again. Nonsense!

Meditation techniques will help you get out of this vicious circle. In a nutshell, they are mental exercises that help us focus our attention on definite things or objects. Your thoughts may drift and race, but meditation teaches us to take control over them.

As a result, you learn to remain in the present moment, keep concentrated, and deal with unnecessary distractions that appear when you live on autopilot. “Meditation is not about stopping thoughts, but recognizing that we are more than our thoughts and our feelings,” says Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and she’s entirely correct.

Benefits of meditation

Do you remember us talking about Gen Z in the introduction? This association makes sense. Almost 25% of Gen Z-ers learn how to meditate in order to improve their physical well-being. And this is cool!

Meditation is trendy because people feel its positive impact on their lives. It is what you can achieve by doing meditation daily:

  • Lower stress and anxiety
  • Stop overthinking
  • Reduce brain chatter
  • Increase your focus 
  • Enhance your memory 
  • Increase the sense of well-being

These effects sound too good to be true! But what if I say that meditation also helps you understand your reactions better, allowing you to gain insights into your behavior? Thus, by practicing meditation and tracking your mood with Breeze, you learn to deal with emotions and navigate the challenges of everyday life.

How to prepare for meditation

Imagine that you’re going to start training at the gym. What would you do beforehand? Maybe choose new training clothes, watch videos on YouTube, or find a personal trainer. No matter what thoughts come into your head, we agree that starting a new activity calls for some prep.

So, how should you get ready for your daily meditation? 

1. Set a definite time

Don’t promise yourself to start meditating, eating healthy, and walking 10K steps a day tomorrow because this “tomorrow” will never come. Demand less to do more. Acquire one habit in 1-2 weeks and start with baby steps. 

Just 5 minutes a day will be enough for the beginning. Do you want to do more? Great! But stay consistent and increase the load gradually like you do in the gym. Imagine that you train physically. You definitely don’t want to overexert and have excessively painful and sore muscles for days that cause you to quit exercising within a week.  

2. Arrange meditation reminders

Roy Davis, a spiritual teacher and author, believes “the most useful approach to meditation practice is to consider it the most important activity of each day.” However, all of us understand that meditation for beginners is more like a worthwhile hobby. So, you need to put in some effort to keep practicing.

Create simple reminders that will motivate you daily. An alarm with encouraging phrases and your favorite cushion on the floor, always ready for you to stop and dedicate 5 minutes to your mental health — all these little things will inspire you to practice regularly.

3. Prepare a place to meditate

By the way, the place is significant. But don’t worry, you are only learning to meditate, so you don’t need to buy sandalwood sticks or Tibetan singing bowls. A quiet place where no one distracts you will be enough.

Turn off your phone for 5-10 minutes and sit on the floor. Do you have a yoga mat? Excellent! Ask your loved ones not to distract you, but if this happens, don’t worry. You can start again and continue the practice as many times as you need. 

4. Accept that you will lose focus all the way

As the founder of Strala Yoga, Tara Stiles, says: “With meditation, you become a sensitized superhero, completely in control, with endless possibilities at your fingertips.” Sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? Yet, the reality may be a bit different. When you only learn how to meditate correctly, your autopilot brain will get control over and over again.

Regular meditations form new neural pathways and help us get more focused. But when you only start, it can be challenging to take control of your thoughts and concentrate on the sensations in your body. What should you do in this case? Just keep practicing.

How to start meditation

Can you imagine that between 200 and 500 million people meditate worldwide 😲? You’re only one step away from becoming one of them. So, below, I provide some simple tips on how to start meditation and what to do.

  • Sit comfortably. Choose clothes that feel nice. Relax the whole body, but keep your back straight. It’s up to you whether you close your eyes or have them open, but don’t get distracted by looking at things in the room.
  • Set a timer. 88% of people meditate for 30 minutes or less. I suggest setting an alarm for 5 minutes at the beginning and, after a few days, analyzing whether you can do more. Little improvements lead to significant changes.
  • Feel your body. Focus on every part of it. Don’t analyze; move your attention. Head, shoulders, hands, back, legs, toes… If something aches, accept it. One of the meditation basics is to stop judging and start observing.
  • Pay attention to your breath. Then focus on how you’re breathing: feel its rhythm, concentrate on how the air goes through your lungs. You don’t need to change anything or criticize yourself. Just breathe.
  • Notice brain chatter. Have you already started thinking about something? I’m sure you have. It’s OK. You can get distracted again and again, but the most important thing is to continue practicing.
  • Get back and focus on breathing. Notice how the breath goes in and out. When you meditate, you need to stop judging and start observing. Remember our example with the gym — the more you train, the better your concentration becomes.
  • Embrace the sensations in your body. It can be a bit tougher, but try to expand your awareness and feel the whole body. Become aware of everything around you. The sounds, smells, feelings… You haven’t forgotten to focus on breathing, have you?
  • Finish the meditation. After a few minutes of observation, thank yourself for providing your mind with these minutes of silence. Then, when you are ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes. Don’t hurry; feel every movement and notice your emotions.
Some essential elements of meditation practices

What is meditation yoga?

Yoga introduced me to the practice of meditation. The only meditation I did before was writing songs,” stated Sting. Yoga and meditation are really connected. However, they are not the same. Discover the difference between these two terms and study what meditation yoga is in this section.

Yoga is a spiritual practice that includes breath control, physical mobility, and strength exercises. Usually, yoga sessions include doing “asanas” — physical poses that help connect body and mind.

Meditation is a part of yoga. It involves exercises that improve your focus and mental health. Among the benefits of meditation are reduced stress, clarity of thoughts, and a higher level of energy. 

You may ask what meditation yoga is. People use this term to refer to the meditation done after the yoga sequence and asanas. Great idea: begin with body training and then train your mind, isn’t it? 

In this case, meditation brings together the physical and philosophical sides of yoga. Regular practice improves mental stability and self-awareness, which leads to a better understanding of the nature of the self.

Do you want to feel peaceful and understand your thoughts better? Try to combine meditation with regular sessions with professional psychologists.

Meditation for beginners

Fun fact: meditation for employees can improve productivity by 120%. But it doesn’t matter whether you want to meditate for better work performance or enhanced mental health — you need to start correctly.

Imagine that you’re going to start learning a new language, buy your first gym membership, or join a dancing club. Would you prefer to do it independently or with an experienced teacher? I believe that the second option is more effective.

This is why it’s better to start your journey in meditation with an experienced teacher who knows how to meditate properly. But don’t hurry; there’s no need to look for your guru. You can choose from hundreds of teachers who provide guided meditations.

Guided meditation is always led by an expert who knows how to get you into a flow state. Such teachers explain what to do step by step. They usually have deep knowledge of our minds, so following their words will be an option for beginners. Guided meditations help us focus faster and stay more motivated throughout the process.

Try the meditation below to concentrate on your feelings and feel the silence inside you. Don’t think about anything; just listen and follow your guide. I promise, you’ll start feeling better within 10 minutes.

How to meditate properly and meditation tips

“Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is—still—the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life,” states Oprah Winfrey in her book “What I Know For Sure.”

This is probably one of the best descriptions of what meditation brings to our lives. Still, if you want to make the process pleasing and easy from the beginning, there are some tips to follow.

1. Don’t try to make meditation ideal

Forget about perfectionism. Really. You don’t need to reach excellence in meditation, the only reason to do it is to feel the process.

  • Do you get distracted? OK.
  • Do you feel frustrated? Also OK.
  • Do you see no changes after a few attempts? Still fine!

Just keep doing it. It may not seem very easy, but after dozens of attempts, you’ll notice how rewarding it is. And one more thing: don’t compare yourself to anyone. Really, try to close Instagram or TikTok and follow your own path with all its ups and downs.

2. Appreciate your feelings

Exhausted, frustrated, anxious, bored, or sad — you may observe all these feelings during the meditation. Don’t react, just let them come and go. You may feel happy, energetic, thrilled, or joyful as well. Again, observe without any analysis.

You may have expected it, right? But what if I say that you may feel nothing as well? An empty head and a clear mind are fine. Allow yourself to have this space. Instead of letting your brain think about something irrelevant again, focus on breathing and keep practicing. 

3. Adapt to what happens around 

Have you ever heard complete silence, been in complete darkness, or felt totally relaxed? Absolute feelings may be overwhelming even for experienced yoga teachers. So, I recommend you begin from where you are now. 

But how to do meditation if you have children or pets at home?

Just adapt. Learn to ignore calls and mobile notifications, stop worrying so much about the cars driving outside. Ask your loved ones to provide you with some personal space. Or… suggest them to join. 

Did you know that 5.4% of children aged 4-17 have practiced meditation? Your loved ones may be interested in trying as well.

4. Try new meditation techniques

Imagine that you go to a dancing club and practice the same dance over and over again. For weeks, months, or even years. How long will it take for you to get bored? 

It is what happens to us when we repeat the same actions over and over again without any changes. We lose interest. To make meditation a part of your routine for years, you need to keep engaged. 

Try new techniques, join a meditation club, or change the place you practice in. Think about how many amazing meditation approaches you haven’t tried yet. By the way, I cover some of them in the next section.

The top 7 really useful meditation practices

The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift… That’s why they call it the present” — Mike Ditka, former football player. Let’s open this gift every morning and enjoy every minute, thanks to being in the present. Learn simple meditation techniques that will turn your mind on.

1. Breathing Meditation

I’ve described it in the previous sections. This is one of the most popular and widespread types of meditation because it helps you shift the focus and reduce anxiety. Moreover, research shows that regular breathing meditations help us maintain a sharp and healthy brain.

2. Focus Meditation

Remember the last time you were fully concentrated on one thing? Can you? Probably not. The 21st century is the age of clip thinking and multitasking, and it definitely makes us more stressed.

Focus meditation involves concentrating on one object and observing it for a certain time. For instance, if you’ve decided to focus on a flame, look how it changes, study its color and size. Notice if there are any drafts in your house. Imagine holding the candle in your hands and thinking about how hot the fire must be. Doesn’t it sound calming?

3. Mindfulness Meditation

What is mindfulness meditation? Mayo Clinic defines it as a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. The main thing is to stop your mind from any analysis or judgment. You need to observe and stay concentrated.

There are no limits on what to focus on in mindfulness meditation. You can stay concentrated while cleaning the house, cooking dishes, or doing laundry. Yes, cleaning can also be considered a type of meditation.

4. Body Scan Meditation

💡 Interesting fact: a daily 20-minute body scan practice may reduce your mental and physical stress levels. So, how do you meditate using this technique?

Close your eyes and feel the whole body. Notice how you stay or sit on the ground. Then imagine that you’re a scanner. Track every part of your body one by one. Go from head to toe, check your feelings step by step, and concentrate on them for a few seconds. Do you remember that there shouldn’t be any judgment or analysis?

Below, I provide a great video with body scan meditation. It will help you concentrate on your body and feel and appreciate it.

5. Mantra Meditation

Do you look for more exotic ways to meditate? Mantra meditation involves sacred sounds that get us into a particular emotional state. These sounds repeat again and again, and you can follow them with mental or verbal repetition to stay more focused.

You can find lots of mantras on the Internet. In any case, it’s better to start with traditional mantras that are utilized in Buddhism. You don’t need to be involved in the faith to enjoy the calmness and clarity of mind this meditation brings.

Lady Gaga stated, “I don’t have the same kind of issues that you have, but I have a mental illness [PTSD], and I struggle with that every day, so I need my mantra to keep me relaxed.” If this is so helpful for her, maybe it will bring peace to your life as well.

6. Walking Meditation

Have you ever wanted to fall asleep while practicing meditation? Silence, deep breathing, comfortable position — isn’t it ideal to get some rest? Nevertheless, if you want to meditate effectively, it’s better to stay awake.

To make the task easier, you may try walking meditations. The essence is simple: you need to walk in silence and observe everything happening around you. No headphones on. It’s best not to get distracted by thoughts like what you want for dinner or how stylish your sneakers are. Just walk and breathe. You can take a step after each full breath if this helps you stay focused.

7. Loving-Kindness Meditation

This one is quite similar to affirmations that have also become quite trendy over recent years. In a nutshell, you need to repeat phrases that send love, kindness, and prosperity to yourself and others.

There are a few meditation tips you need to remember. Sit down on the floor, close your eyes, and think about the positive things you did in your life. Feel warmth and enjoyment from remembering these moments. 

Then concentrate on your breath and start silently repeating things like “be happy“, “stay healthy“, or “may I be safe.” Think about your loved ones and visualize their lives getting better. Then, imagine yourself in the center of life, full of happiness and prosperity. Smile, open your eyes, and finish the meditation.

4 simple meditation examples to try out today!

Looking for a great meditation to start the day? I’ve collected some great options for you to start right now and save time on hesitating about whether it’s better to do tomorrow.

Morning meditation

This video will let you clear your mind before an active day. Morning meditation is a great tradition that may change your mood, improve productivity, and calm you down no matter what happens. What if you add it to your morning routine? Try now to see changes in the future.

Lying down meditation

What is meditation? It is the time that you give yourself to rest mentally and physically. So, lying down meditation may be your ideal option. It can help you fall asleep easily, or vice versa — get ready for work or studying. Set a goal and enjoy 10 minutes of relaxation. 

Calming meditation

84% of people do regular practices to reduce stress and anxiety. If you only think about how to learn to meditate, this video may be ideal for you. A 5-minute meditative practice will help you forget about negative feelings, improve your mood, and start breathing deeply. 

How to start meditating daily

Let’s turn back to our example of going to the gym. What is the most important thing in building muscles? Consistency.

The same thing happens with new brain connections. If you meditate regularly, your brain “gets fit” and focuses better. 

The research proves that 12 minutes of meditation, 5 days a week, improves your mental capacity significantly. So, follow our tips to start practicing daily.

  1. Plan meditations in advance. You can build a schedule or add sessions to your calendar. The key here is not to over-concentrate on your plans. Life is unpredictable, so if you sometimes do an evening practice instead of a morning practice, it’s OK.
  1. Make meditation a habit. Remember that the best time is now. Even if you have 5 minutes. Even if you’re lazy or frustrated. Just sit down and do the bare minimum. This way, you’ll make meditation habitual and an integral part of your life.
  1. Notice changes. Ask yourself, “What does meditation do with my life?” and keep observing even the smallest positive metamorphoses. Track your emotions with Breeze to study how your mood changes and notice how you get more relaxed and less anxious over time. This will keep you motivated and help you understand that meditation is one of the most rewarding things in your life. 

Wrapping Up

Yahoo! Congrats! You’ve finished reading our meditation guide and are ready to start real practice. Get back to this article anytime you have any questions or to get a dose of motivation to continue your meditation practice. I hope this new habit will make your life better and happier. 

Are you looking for more psychological tricks and practices? Try Breeze and learn to deal with your feelings. I genuinely believe that your emotions matter.

Joy Ismail, PhD, provided some insights into how our brain works when doing meditation practices “Meditation — and all types of mindfulness-based treatments (MBTs) — is an extremely powerful practice that has observable benefits on one’s quality of life. We still have a long way to go before we can understand how meditation has such a profound impact on the brain, but preliminary neurobiological research shows that it can lead to significant cellular changes and can even affect gene expression in the brain. It can even modulate the activity and anatomy across different brain regions. Meditation has been shown to enhance mental health in individuals with treatment-resistant depression and patients with cancer, so imagine what it could do for you!”

Joy Ismail, PhD photo

Reviewed by Joy Ismail, PhD

Joy is a neuroscientist, researcher, scientific consultant, and science writer. She holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Neuroscien...