Meditation For Beginners: Why and How to Meditate

February 20, 2017 / Mind and Body

Imagine being able to inhale and exhale through all of your problems. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical, mental or emotion; just inhale and exhale to improve your situation. Meditation can do just that. Practicing meditation on a regular basis comes with numerous benefits from every area of health. This is why at Wellness Sidekick we offer you a new meditation everyday to keep you motivated to practice.

When meditation is practiced on a regular basis it can significantly reduce stress and how your body responds to stress. Meditation is one of those useful tools that takes your nervous system out of the sympathetic system (fight or flight) into the parasympathetic system (rest and digest). When your body is under constant stress it releases hormones that can damage the body; meditation is one way to reduce stress on the body and help to repair any damage. So the more we practice the healthier we can be. The more you meditate the more the brain will learn to process stressful situations differently. So over time you might not feel the same level of stress that you once did.

Meditation also provides countless other benefits for the body including cardiovascular and immune health. Meditation lowers blood pressure and reduces the amount of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that causes inflammation in the body which can lead to increased fat storage. Since regular meditation can reduce the release of cortisol in the body the amount of inflammation in the body will be decreased. This can also benefit joint health and swelling in the body. Cortisol is also a contributor to increased levels of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders; so meditation can also be beneficial for people who are suffering from those issues. Meditation has so many benefits because it can improve every part of the body mentally, physically and emotionally.

To recap the benefits with this list:

Reduces Stress
Decreases Inflammation
Improves Immunity
Increases Focus
Less Anxiety and Depression
Improved Memory
Increased Energy
Reduces Symptoms of PMS and Menopause
Lower Blood Pressure
Reduce Fat Storage
Improve Joint Health
Decreases Swelling
Slows Aging
Boosts Mood
Increased Self-Awareness
Mood Swings

I hope you will consider adding meditation to your daily routine. We recommend meditating for 10 to 20 minutes to start then increasing the time as you get comfortable. Even if you only have time to sit quietly for 5 minutes you will still see a change to your mental, emotional and physical well being, the trick is to just be consistent! So what’s a good place to start if you have never meditated before? Well, like exercise, there are so many different ways to meditate. It is important to find what works best for you and what method you see the best results from. I am going to go through a few different kinds of ways to practice.

#1 Seated Meditation

This is probably the most common way of meditating and it’s very effective. To start when doing seated meditation it is important to find a comfortable position. For example you could sit cross legged on the floor or on a cushion. When your hips are above your knees it is easier on the whole back and it allows you to sit taller. If that doesn’t work for you, you can also lay down on the floor or even sit in a chair. Whatever works best! I would try to avoid laying in bed or anything really soft because you want to be able to use your position to your advantage. The more you can lengthen your spine and open your lungs the better.

When you have found your comfortable seat then you can find you breath. The easiest way to start is to take some normal breaths. Find a nice tall spine, imagine your tailbone is anchored into the floor (cushion or chair) and the center of your head is reaching up to the sky. Doing this will help to straighten your spine. Once you find this position relax and drop your shoulders away from your ears. As you inhale see if you can grow the spine higher to the sky, then as you exhale sink your tailbone towards the ground. What you do with your hands is completely up to you. Lay your hands in your lap, set them on your knees, or place them in prayer pose. There are so many variations and they all can be a different practice of meditation.

Next, start to take a soft gaze around the room and begin to focus on what your breath is doing. Maybe you begin to close your eyes or look straight down your nose. Take a nice big inhale and see if you can expand your chest wide! Now exhale and contract the chest toward you. Do that a few times. Then begin to just breath in and out through your nose. Try to take the next inhale from your nose on a count of 4 and then exhale for 4. Eventually if it works for you take it on a count of 8.

As you breath notice what your mind is doing. Is it focused on the breath or did it start wondering? If it started wondering don’t worry just come back to your inhales and exhales. Maybe you count for a few cycles and see if that helps your focus. Sometimes I like to count to my inhales and exhale cycles. When I get to 10 I start over. It helps keep my mind on my breath. Feel free to set a timer and do this for 5 minutes. Now when you get comfortable, add more time to the timer. Maybe 1 minute a week until you get to 30mins; keep going up from there if it works for you!

Don’t worry every time your mind starts to wonder just come back to the breath. There will be days when you don’t want to meditate and it will be so hard to be focused but remember those days are probably when you need it the most!

#2 Walking Meditation

Sometimes it’s hard to sit or find the time when we have so much chaos going on in the home. My advice would be to try walking meditation. To do this practice; it is really easy! To get started go on a walk with just yourself and as you walk notice each step that you take. This may mean you have to slow down a little. As you walk begin to notice your breath. Start to count your breath, inhale for a count of 4-8 breaths depending on your comfort level then exhale for 4-8 breaths. Continue to do this as you walk and if you get distracted, the minute you notice just come back to the breath. Do this for at least 10 minutes but keep going if you can!

The fun part about walking meditation is you can notice what your body is doing as you walk and you can do it anywhere! The beach, a park, or around your neighborhood.

#3 Car Meditation

When you’re stuck in traffic feeling the frustration and the stress is building, try meditating. To begin take some nice big deep breaths! In through the nose and out through the mouth. Keeping the eyes open and alert (remember you’re driving), start to inhale and exhale through the nose. Relax any points of tension in the body. Try squeezing the steering wheel with your hands as hard as you can, hold for the duration of your inhale and then release on an exhale. Do that a few times. Release the tension flowing up the arms, into the neck and down the shoulders. Give it a go and feel the magic!

Another tool for road rage! Or even office rage!

Nadi Shodhana: Alternate nostril breathing

This is a breathing exercise and is alway a wonderful tool to use in mediation or to relieve stress. Use this type of breathing in the car or while having a really frustrating time at work. It balances the mind and helps get everything centered.

How it works:

With a nice tall spine raise your right hand up to your nose.

Then take a nice deep inhale and exhale through your nose. Placing your thumb on the right nostril inhale through the left nostril. Release the right thumb and close the left nostril with your pointer finger and take the exhale through the right nostril.

Take an inhale through the right nostril and then close it with your thumb, release the left nostril and take the exhale through the left. Begin again, inhale through the left nostril, close with your pointer finger, release right nostril and exhale through the right. Continue to alternate your breath this way for about 10 breaths. If you’re not driving or operating any machinery feel free to close your eyes while you do this.

These are just a few of the ways you can introduce yourself to meditation and get the Prana (breath) flowing. There are so many different kinds of meditations you can practice. So try as many as you can and see what works best for you! Remember it’s about you and your health, meditation can bring so many benefits to your mental, emotional and physical being. Give it a try and see what we are talking about.

Visit our daily meditation page to get inspiration and motivation for your meditation!