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When you bring up the topic of meditation, most people’s minds race quickly to flashing images of Buddhist monks chanting hypnotic melodies; while such notions are correct, meditation has evolved from an ancient practice and has become very popular across the globe.
If you are considering to learn how to meditate and wish to know the art of meditation for beginners, then look no further.
The function of meditation is not to change the person you are; instead, it is supposed to help you become more aware of your actions, thoughts, feelings, and reactions. These subtle intricacies that come with meditation improve health, promote well-being, eliminate stress, and increase productivity.
Meditating allows you to learn to accept and acknowledge your thoughts, but it also teaches you to do this in a less judgmental manner.
We often tend to criticize all areas of our life, and it is these thought processes that can negatively impact them. The more you practice meditation, the more you may begin to understand why you feel and respond to certain things. This gives you room to change these ways for the better.
Meditation improves your ability to pay attention and increases the capacity of your working memory. This means that while at work, you have the ability to process more complex tasks at once. You are also capable of focusing and committing to a task wholeheartedly and giving it your all.
Research has shown that individuals who meditate twice a week for 45 minutes improved their working memory by 30%. This means that their ability to process and hold more information increased to 30% versus the average individual.
It also stops your mind from wandering and allows you to concentrate more. Studies of students who meditated showed that when it was time to hand in their exam results, their scores increased by 16%.
Meditation is a skill; all it takes is patience and time to master. But once you begin to practice, you will soon develop ways to be super productive as well as a brand new way of looking at the world, and it is extraordinary!
How Can Meditation Improve Productivity at Work?
Meditation is a very simple process in which you can increase productivity. Meditation gets rid of stress and allows you to approach things with clarity.
If there is a challenging scenario at work, you can approach it from all angles and potentially see a way around the problem.
When you meditate, your brain’s right side begins to light up, which allows you to come up with creative ideas and think.
Other benefits include:
- Increases your ability to plan better.
- Increased blood circulation in your brain when you meditate; therefore, you feel more energized and can do more at work in the same time frame as before.
- A boost in concentration allows you to pay attention for longer without feeling worn out.
- It ups your memory. This means thinking and recalling are less taxing on you and your body.
3 Beginner Meditation Mistakes
When you first start meditating, you may find yourself falling into a few very common mistakes. Fear not though, everyone, even the professionals, may experience these from time to time. They are avoidable and can be averted if you catch yourself doing them.
I Can’t Find the Time
This one is a common error. We get so swept up in the everyday that we forget about the few things that matter, one of which is meditation. The best fix for this is to book out a time in your schedule, the same way you would for a client or meeting. No excuses!
Avoidance and Ignoring Thoughts
Let us face it; we all overthink things, even when we are not meditating. When we actually sit down to meditate, the frustrating thing is that all these thoughts seem more pronounced.
The idea is not to cling to or ignore your thoughts.
Meditation is about letting them all ooze up to the surface and then slowly slip away.
That is all.
If this feels overwhelming, allow yourself to focus back on your breathing. Pay attention to your inhale and exhale.
This is a very simple expectation to have as a beginner. It may seem that meditation is a time to relax. What you must understand is that meditation is a delicate balance between being alert and relaxing.
What usually occurs is you sitting down to practice and then becoming agitated with feelings of not being relaxed or feelings of boredom.
This is okay.
Acknowledge how you feel rather than fighting them off. This can seem challenging, but as you work through this, the art of meditation will become easier.
Guided Meditation for Beginners
The first rule of thumb is that you aim to relax and become mindful of your feelings and thoughts. When you first begin, the easiest route to take is to focus on your breath and then begin to expand to trying different meditating styles and eventually settling on a handful that works for you.
Let us begin:
- Find a quiet, comfortable location to either sit or lay down.
- Remove all devices that can interrupt your practice.
- Be quiet and still for a few minutes, adjusting your body’s position if need be so that you do not have to do this during your practice.
- Close your eyes and begin to focus on breath, the way the body contracts and expands. Does your breath travel through your nose or mouth; how does it feel? Do this for five minutes.
- Acknowledge your thoughts and be forgiving toward your thoughts and feelings.
- When you are ready, gently resurface from your practice and lay in stillness for a few more moments. Listen to the birds or noises wafting in from outside.
- You have now completed your first meditative session!
We live very sedentary lives, often seated behind a computer for the majority of the day. Practicing mindfulness can seem like another thing that you have to add to your to-do list, but it doesn’t have to be.
Incorporating a walking meditation into your day is just another way in which you can practice.
When you are next out walking, even to grab a coffee, follow these steps:
- Walk, counting each step up till 10, then work your way from 10 back down to one.
- When you step, pay attention to your feet, your legs, and the rest of your body. See how they move in a rhythm?
- When you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your walking.
Try doing this whenever you find yourself walking around the office or outdoors; it will do wonders to increase productivity at work!
Meditation for When You Are on-the-Go
Our lives can be hectic!
And beginners may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of scheduling in time to meditate, though this is crucial. If you do find that you have very little time to spare for meditation on particular days, try a one-minute meditation for when you are on-the-go.
Here is how:
- Sit comfortably in a quiet space and, for one minute, close your eyes. Recite a silent mantra, either by saying words of encouragement or support. Reaffirm your goals or remind yourself of what you are grateful for.
- While you are meditating, take deep, purposeful breaths.
- When you inhale, think of all the good things; when you exhale, release all the negative energies.
When we eat, it should be done mindfully and ideally not on-the-go or behind a desk, though most of us can agree we tend to do this more than what we should. Mindful eating is another form of meditation and mindfulness that will allow your body and mind to catch up with itself.
Try doing the following next time you eat:
- Every time you take a bite of food, put it (the food or utensil) down between bites.
- Focus on the flavors, textures, and aromas of your meal.
- Chew your food thoroughly between bites.
- Eat in silence.
- Do not overeat.
- Focus on where the food came from and what processes did it undergo to end up on your plate.
- Remind yourself to be thankful for every meal.
Meditation weekly plan
Monday: Guided meditation for five minutes; focus on your breathing.
Tuesday: Non-guided meditation* for six minutes.
Wednesday: Guided meditation for seven minutes: create a meditation space for yourself using pillows, bells, plants, and mats.
Thursday: Non-guided meditation for eight minutes.
Friday: Guided meditation for nine minutes sitting up with your legs crossed.
Saturday: Non-guided meditation for 10 minutes lying down.
Sunday: Guided meditation for 11 minutes. Begin a gratitude journal.
* What is non-guided meditation? Non-guided meditation means that you meditate without using any devices, apps, or programs to assist or guide you.
Meditation Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Just as there are commonly-made meditation mistakes, there are also challenges that a person may face while practicing. They, too, can easily be averted, allowing you to proceed smoothly with your practice.
Expecting Immediate Results
You may think by sitting down for one session you will magically begin reaping the rewards. Though meditation does come with a wealth of rewards, it takes time to begin feeling and seeing them. Take one day at a time and gradually you will begin to notice the effects.
Be patient and kind to yourself.
Meditation is a habit that needs to be cultivated. It is a good habit to create and build on, and you will be thankful that you made time each day to practice.
As we grow older, the need to do better, get things right, or do things perfectly the first time becomes important to us. So, when an individual begins to meditate, there may be an underlying need to get it right the first time.
The best way to avoid this way of thinking is to not think of meditation at all when you begin to practice. Completely give up any preconceived ideas and expectations about meditation and just be.
Meditation has gained quite a large following, including garnering support by very influential celebrities who swear that meditation changed their lives.
Oprah Winfrey said that with meditation, she could regain the stillness in her life while handling a very busy and demanding life. She said: “What I know for sure, and have had to learn through much trial and error: The voice that truly matters is the silent voice of awareness, consciousness, aliveness.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said: “Just finished a 10-day silent meditation. Wow, what a reset! Fortunate & grateful I was able to take the time. Happy New Year! #Vipassana.”
Katy Perry said, “It’s a game-changer,” she insists. “I will feel neuro pathways open, a halo of lights. And I’m so much sharper. I just fire up!”
Meditation Equipment to Ease Your Meditation Practice
The best thing you can do for your meditation practice is to invest in a few items that get you comfortable and that you associate only with this time.
Here are some top reviewed, five-star items to consider:
Yoga mat – Look for a non-slip, multi-purpose option that is well padded to support your weight if you choose to lay down and meditate. I suggest the Everyday Essentials 1/2-Inch Extra Thick High-Density Anti-Tear Exercise Yoga Mat with Knee Pad and Carrying Strap.
Meditation bell – The bell is used to signal the start and end of your meditation practice. It is said to clear areas of negative energy. It also adds a sense of ceremony to your practice. I especially love the Tibetan Buddhist Meditation bell that is made using a blend of metals and comes engraved with the Victory Banner and Tibetan Buddhist Dorji.
Bolster cushion – The cushion was designed to help support the body during yoga and meditation. The Ajna Yoga Bolster Pillow for Meditation and Support is one of my favorites.
Meditation cushion – A meditation cushion allows you to sit comfortably and meditate. It supports your hips and weight and eases the pressure off your knees if you chose to sit and practice. The Florensi Meditation Cushion is packed with benefits, but I adore the beautifully embellished mandala design on it, which makes practicing meditation even more inviting.
There Is an App for That
Meditation, as you have now discovered, can do wonders for your well-being and increase productivity at work.
The marvelous thing is that we live in the 21st century, where there are most certainly apps to help ease you into your practice.
Here are a few of the best ones:
- Headspace – This app is one of the better-known ones on the market and is supported by an excellent website, too, with plenty of information about meditation and practicing mindfulness. There is an assortment of short, guided meditations, sounds to help you sleep, and meditations for children.
- Insight Timer – This app is great because it caters to the beginner, intermediate, and professional practitioner. There are many guided meditations available, which are done by seasoned teachers. There is also a tracker on the app, which allows you to track your progress.
- Calm – This app allows you to select various meditation styles, along with the chance to choose durations. There is also a selection of breathing exercises, sounds, and mindfulness programs.
As a beginner, how long should I meditate for?
If you are still in the early stages of learning to meditate, then the recommended time would be anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes every day.
The idea is to progress in your practice.
You can even try meditating for one minute in the morning, and the following morning for two minutes, and so on. Start off simply, and do not pressure yourself to get it right the first time around.
What should I think about while I meditate?
You are allowed to feel and think whatever you would like.
The idea is to acknowledge your thoughts and then allow them to leave. If you struggle with settling down, it is suggested that you focus merely on your breath. Alternatively, you can focus on the past day or week events.
You may also consider thinking about the goals you have in mind for yourself or perhaps those you have already achieved.
How do I stop overthinking when I meditate?
Meditation needs to be part of your daily routine. It may be that on particular days we find ourselves frustrated, and our minds are working overtime processing these events. This is when meditation is needed the most.
To stop fidgeting while meditating, try bringing in a mantra to your practice. A mantra can either be words of affirmation or encouragement that you repeat silently to yourself while you meditate.