How to Meditate Properly: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation Techniques

More and more people are discovering the incredible benefits of meditation. Over 18 million adults in the U.S. say they practice meditation, seeking reduced stress, improved focus, emotional well-being, and more.

But meditation is more than just sitting quietly – it’s a precise practice that requires proper technique to reap the full rewards. Use this comprehensive beginner’s guide to learn fundamental meditation skills and start integrating meditation into your daily life.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of focusing your awareness and attention in order to train your mind. It allows you to tune out distractions, let go of negative thoughts, and simply be present in the moment.

The origins of meditation go back thousands of years, arising in ancient Indian traditions before becoming a part of many Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. While practices vary, meditation generally involves:

  • Finding a quiet, calm space
  • Assuming a comfortable posture
  • Focusing your attention (on your breath, a mantra, visualization, etc.)
  • Letting go of distracting thoughts when they arise
  • Returning your attention repeatedly to the object of focus

This process strengthens your concentration, awareness, and ability to be mindful as well as relaxing your body. With regular practice, meditation creates lasting changes in how your brain functions.

Some types of meditation include:

  • Mindfulness meditation: This popular type involves focusing on the present moment without judgement. You may pay attention to sounds, physical sensations, your breathing, or something else happening right now.
  • Spiritual meditation: Here, you reflect on the meaning of life or connect with a higher power. This may involve pondering sacred texts, repeating prayers or mantras, visualizing spiritual symbols, etc.
  • Focused meditation: You concentrate on something specific like a word, object, or breathing. This could involve silently repeating a mantra, staring at a candle flame, or following your inhales/exhales.
  • Movement meditation: Here you pair meditation with gentle movements. Examples include walking meditation, qigong, and yoga.
  • Loving-kindness meditation: This practice fosters compassion by directing caring thoughts towards yourself and others.

There’s no one “right” way to meditate. With many types to explore, you can find a practice that provides the benefits you seek.

Benefits of Meditation

Research continues to confirm the wide-ranging benefits of meditation:

  • Reduced stress: Meditation decreases cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Studies show it can quickly induce a deep state of relaxation.
  • Less anxiety: Mindfulness meditation in particular can lessen anxiety, Often more effectively than medication. It also helps with depression and panic disorder.
  • Increased focus: Focused attention meditation strengthens your concentration, cognitive function, and ability to stay focused when needed.
  • Emotional well-being: Meditation fosters positive emotions like compassion and joy. This emotional uplift can last for hours after your session.
  • Better sleep: Meditating before bed can help improve your sleep quality. It also lessens daytime fatigue by reducing stress.
  • Pain relief: Mind-body practices including meditation can reduce chronic pain by activating pain-relieving endorphins.
  • Greater self-awareness: Looking inward during meditation increases your capacity for introspection and self-reflection.

Table summarizing key benefits:

Reduced StressLowers cortisol hormone
Less AnxietyComparable to medications
Increased FocusStrengthens attention span
Emotional Well-beingBoosts positive emotions
Better SleepAids sleep quality
Pain ReliefActivates endorphins
Self-AwarenessIncreases introspection

Also See: 6 Types Of Water Meditation You Need To Try

How to Prepare for Meditation

How to Prepare for Meditation

To set yourself up for success, follow these tips when preparing to meditate:

  • Find a quiet space: Choose a spot with minimal distractions. Silence your phone, close the door, and eliminate potential interruptions.
  • Set a duration: Start with just 5-10 minutes until you build stamina. Work up to 20-30 minute sessions.
  • Get comfortable: Wear loose, non-restrictive clothes. Have a cushion or chair ready. Adjust as needed.
  • Pick a type of meditation: Try different techniques to see what you enjoy. Mindfulness or breathing focused meditations are good starters.
  • Use tools if desired: You may choose to play soft nature sounds or use meditation aids like an app or podcast.
  • Establish a habit: Commit to a regular daily practice, even if very brief. Consistency is key.

When first learning how to meditate, keep it simple. Just sit, breathe, and be present without worrying about the “rules.” Start a meditation practice you actually enjoy so you stick with it.

Proper Meditation Posture

Your physical posture directly impacts how you breathe, focus, and relax into a meditative state. Sit with:

  • Straight spine: Keep your back upright without straining. Imagine a string at the crown of your head pulling up.
  • Relaxed neck and shoulders: Roll your shoulders back and down. Be mindful of tension in your neck/jaw too.
  • Hands rested comfortably: Place palms face up on your lap or knees. Or put the left hand in the right palm.
  • Face relaxed: Soften your eyes, brow, and cheeks. Loosely close eyes or lower them slightly.
  • Stable base: Sit firmly on a cushion or chair without wavering. Cross legs or keep feet on floor.

Proper posture reduces distractions by making it more comfortable to keep still for extended periods. Don’t obsess over perfection, just check in periodically to adjust as needed.

How to Breathe During Meditation

Meditative breathing calms the mind and deepens concentration. Breathe:

  • Through the nose: This naturally slows the breath. Only use your mouth if your nose is congested.
  • Slow and deep: Inhale for a slow count of 4, exhale for a slow count of 6. Work up to 5-7 second inhales.
  • From the diaphragm: The belly should expand, not just the chest rising. Place a hand on your stomach to feel it.
  • Smooth and steady: Make the breaths silent and continuous without strain or pause.
  • Passively: Don’t actively control your breath, just relax into its natural flow.

Focus on the sensation of your breath entering and leaving the body. If you get distracted, gently return your attention to the breath.

“Controlling your breath is half of the wisdom of meditation. Inhale deeply and exhale like a mushroom cloud.” -Unknown

Dealing with Distractions

It’s completely normal for the mind to wander during meditation – don’t get discouraged. Here are some strategies for dealing with distractions:

  • Observe thoughts non-judgmentally: Note distracting thoughts/sounds as temporary events without self-criticism.
  • Refocus attention: Gently bring your focus back to your anchor – the breath, mantra, etc. Don’t force it.
  • Let go: If a thought keeps returning, breathe through it without attachment rather than wrestling with it.
  • Be patient: Our minds have been conditioned to be busy and distracted. It takes time to train concentration.
  • Adjust practice if needed: Consider trying a different type of meditation or reducing session length.
  • Don’t give up: Distractions mean you’re practicing correctly! With time, concentration strengthens.

With consistent meditation, you’ll find yourself getting distracted less often, and able to return focus more quickly when you do.

Also Read: How To Meditate On God’s Word Day And Night?

Choosing the Best Time of Day to Meditate

Choosing the Best Time of Day to Meditate

The time you meditate depends on factors like your energy levels and daily schedule. Here are some beneficial times to meditate:

  • Morning: Practicing after waking up can energize and center you before the day begins. However, don’t meditate right after rushing out of bed. Have some water and get grounded first.
  • Mid-day: Meditating during a lunch break clears your mind for the second half of the day. It counteracts that post-meal sleepy feeling too.
  • Evening: The hour before bedtime preps your mind for restful sleep when done consistently. But don’t do active meditation late at night – it may overenergize you.
  • Anytime you need focus or relief: Taking 5-10 minutes during stressful or boring times injects mindfulness as an antidote.

Consider your own energy cycles and schedule to find your ideal time. Remain flexible – varying when you meditate prevents it feeling like another duty.

Troubleshooting Common Meditation Problems

New meditators often face these obstacles. Here’s how to troubleshoot:

Can’t seem to focus

Solution: Choose an anchor that engages you more like a mantra, object, or visualization. Open eyes slightly. Shorten session length. Check for restlessness or sleepiness.

Overwhelmed by distractions

Solution: Meditate in nature or use noise-blocking earbuds. Refocus attention in a relaxed way, not forcibly. Remind yourself gently when distracted.

Mind goes completely blank

Solution: Add a simple meditation anchor like breath-counting. Engage senses more – notice sounds, sensations. Change to a guided meditation.

Too sleepy

Solution: Meditate with open eyes. Splash cold water on your face before the session. Sit upright. Try walking meditation. Check if bored/underchallenged.

Physical discomfort

Solution: Change posture more often. Sit on a cushion or chair instead of the floor. Release tension in face/neck. Stretch before and after.

Be compassionate with yourself when facing hurdles. Challenges lessen with gentle persistence. Remain open to modifying your practice.

Making Meditation a Daily Habit

To enjoy meditation’s benefits, adopt it as lifelong habit:

  • Start small: Even 2-5 minutes daily is beneficial. This feels more doable long-term than overcommitting.
  • Be consistent: Pick a regular time and prompt yourself daily. Missing days can derail momentum. But don’t beat yourself up if you skip.
  • Integrate it: Make meditation part of your routine like exercise or brushing teeth. Link it to existing habits.
  • Track progress: Note sessions completed to see progress. Apps can gamify tracking.
  • Make it enjoyable: Find the type you look forward to, not another obligation. Experiment until it feels right.
  • Join a community: Local classes or online groups provide support, community and accountability.
  • Educate yourself: Keep learning proper technique and exploring new meditation types.

Regular practice cements meditation’s benefits. Small starts that grow into a pleasant habit beat ambitious resolutions that quickly fizzle out.

Complementary Lifestyle Habits for Meditators

Boost your meditation practice by also:

  • Exercising: Yoga and tai chi complement seated meditation. But any movement supports mindfulness.
  • Reducing clutter: Decluttering your physical space aids mental clarity. There’s a peacefulness to simplicity.
  • Limiting social media: These endless scrolls train the opposite of mindfulness. Unplug more for genuine connections.
  • Writing/journaling: Flow writing loosens obsessive thoughts. Journal about insights gained.
  • Practicing gratitude: Thankfulness complements meditation’s positive outlook. Appreciate life’s gifts.
  • Balancing responsibilities: Don’t overschedule yourself. Busy-ness distracts from presence.
  • Spending time in nature: Natural settings create calmness conducive to meditation.

Adopting complementary habits boosts meditation’s effectiveness in reducing stress and finding inner tranquility.

Advanced Meditation Techniques to Try

Advanced Meditation Techniques to Try

Once you master the basics, consider exploring:

  • Body scan: Systematically pay attention to each body part to promote deeper relaxation.
  • Walking meditation: Land your awareness on the sensations of slowly, mindfully walking.
  • Loving-kindness: Wish yourself and others happiness and freedom from suffering.
  • Visualization: Form mental images to relax or reflect on deeper truths.
  • Chanting: Repeat mantras aloud to enter a meditative state via vocal vibration.
  • Mandala coloring: Tracing these intricate patterns induces a meditative state.
  • Mindful eating: Tune into your senses by slowly and consciously eating one food.
  • Meditating with mala beads: Pass beads through fingers to anchor attention during chanting.

Varying your practice with advanced techniques keeps meditation engaging once the basics feel comfortable.

How to Start a Daily Meditation Habit

Follow these steps to successfully establish a lasting daily meditation practice:

  1. Pick your basics: Choose type and ideal duration/time that seem doable long-term.
  2. Schedule sessions: Carve out time in your calendar and set reminders to prompt you.
  3. Start small: Even 2 minutes daily to start creates momentum vs. 30 minutes sporadically.
  4. Optimize environment: Craft a calming space by decluttering, using decor like plants, lighting candles.
  5. Make preparations: Have any items you need ready like cushions, journal, playlist, etc.
  6. Create accountability: Enlist friends or use an app to track progress. Or join a class.
  7. Troubleshoot obstacles: Experiment with solutions if challenges like discomfort or sleepiness arise.
  8. Iterate: Change timing, duration or technique as needed while keeping habit intact.
  9. Cement the ritual: Make meditation a satisfying self-care activity you eagerly repeat daily.

Forming a routine habit takes some trial and error, but the effort pays off in increased mindfulness, lower stress, and greater wellbeing.

Tips for Staying Motivated as a Beginning Meditator

Common motivational hurdles new meditators face include:

  • Not feeling like you have time
  • Getting bored or impatient with the practice
  • Not noticing tangible benefits yet
  • Forgetting to do it or breaking momentum
  • Feeling like you’re doing it “wrong” when your mind wanders

Here are some tips to maintain motivation:

  • Focus on how good you’ll feel after – Remember the sense of calm you crave.
  • Start with mini-sessions – Even 2 minutes will leave you refreshed.
  • Learn more about benefits – Understanding scientifically proven perks boosts drive.
  • Track victories – Note mental clarity, lower stress, better sleep when they occur.
  • Read inspirational quotes – Find motivating reminders of why practice matters.
  • Join a class or community – Shared experience gives support and accountability.
  • Celebrate milestones – Mark practice anniversaries or session tallies.
  • Be compassionate with yourself – Don’t chastise yourself for lapses. Just gently begin again.


Meditation is an ancient practice that is gaining immense popularity today for its proven benefits, from stress relief to improved focus. By learning to meditate properly, you can experience these benefits yourself. 

Start with the fundamentals – find a quiet space, focus on your breathing, and return your attention gently when your mind wanders. Sit comfortably with good posture and relax your muscles. Be consistent, meditating daily even if just brief sessions to start. 

Over time, you will face fewer distractions and can even explore more advanced practices. Adopt supporting habits like exercising, spending time in nature, and limiting digital media. Stay motivated by remembering how good meditation makes you feel. 

With patience and compassion for yourself, the practice will start to feel pleasantly habitual. If you invest effort into learning how to meditate correctly as a beginner, you’ll reap immense rewards for both your physical and mental health.

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