Basic meditation techniques for beginners – ‘stop trying’ is the best one of all!

You may have read my blog Simple meditation techniques for beginners – it doesn’t have to be hard! where I outlined 4 techniques including a guided meditation with quite a bit of detail and explanation.

This time, I’m going to list 5 basic meditation techniques for beginners to simplify your meditation experience even more and I have included what I consider to be the best one of all too.

5 Basic Meditation Techniques for Beginners

 1.  Lay down or sit

Lay down on your back or sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor (use meditation cushions – behind your back, under your bottom or under your feet, a meditation bench (I love these and in a future post I will let you know what meditation benches I think are the best) or supports where needed).

If you choose to sit, the idea is to have your knees below your pelvis in a slight downward slant. This will alleviate any pressure on the lower back.

 

2.  Breathe naturally

 

 

Breathe as naturally as possible. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is good (your mouth should remain slightly open), but if you find this difficult just breathe in a way that is comfortable.

3.  Resist nothing

Resist nothing – this includes your thoughts and any physical discomfort you may experience. What you resist persists, so just watch your thoughts and let them gently go. You can visualize them dropping off the end of a conveyer-belt – but something else may work for you.

The idea behind letting go of thoughts is to create space or a gap in the stream of thinking and this means to minimize engagement with the thought and to not feed it.

And…come back to the breath.

When you begin to really notice your thoughts you will see how prolific they are and how they can snowball from one thing to the next and how these thoughts can generate emotions (and not always the feel-good ones). This is in part why we meditate in the first place – to start to realise the nature of the mind and the chaos it can cause.

If you feel niggles of pain or discomfort throughout your body, just gently direct your breath through these areas (without attaching thought to the pain e.g. my knee hurts, I shouldn’t have tried to surf etc etc) and see how these may dissipate.

Tip: “Accept” the thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and just watch them.

4.  Focus on something other than the breath

Believe it or not, focusing on the breath can be difficult for some – myself included at times.

So, an alternative to this is to focus on your heartbeat.  This can be difficult to find or feel too. Why is this? We have become so totally detached from ourselves that often we can’t feel what’s going on inside.

Secondly, try sensing your body on the inside e.g. your hands – without touching each hand.

Finally, simply scan your body slowly from your toes to the top of your head and back again.

Focusing on your inner body will overtime become easier and you will start to become more greatly in tune with what’s going on inside and in fact will feel the wonderful aliveness of your body. You will even notice where certain emotions sit in your body and will be able to work on allowing that emotion to dissipate.

As with Basic Meditation Technique 4 – if you become distracted, just come back to focusing on your heartbeat or bodily sensations. Choose the point of focus that works best and is the easiest for you.

AND….INTRODUCING THE BEST ONE OF ALL (DRUM ROLL PLEASE….)

5.  Stop Trying!

Yes, that’s right, shock horror – just stop trying so hard.

We are told constantly (regardless of what it is) to try, try, try and never stop – keep going, don’t stop, don’t give up, push through, no pain, no gain – I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Society tells us that you can never stop, well I’m here to tell you that sometimes that is the very thing we need to do.

One of the main obstacles to meditating is that sometimes we can try so hard that we put an unreasonable amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve some state during our meditation, force ourselves to spend a particular amount of time meditating or even try to assume the lotus position despite it being painful because apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Is it no wonder our resistance to meditation builds? Of course not.

If you find yourself becoming increasingly uncomfortable (of course, we can take measures to minimize this – which I will touch on in a later post), fidgety, frustrated or any other negative emotion or thought crops up (and these will increase the more you resist but also will appear to increase as you actually become more in tune and notice what’s going on inside) then forcing yourself to meditate for longer becomes in my opinion counter-productive.

So, in those cases, just stop! We very rarely, if ever, give ourselves permission to stop and it is unlikely that anyone else is ever going to give you permission to stop (except me of course).  So, give yourself permission to stop, if you can’t, say to yourself “Martine said I could stop”. For me, this was an enormous relief (not just in meditating).

You will become better over time in managing your thoughts and the discomforts that arise, but to force yourself takes you further away from where you actually want to be or the benefits you wish to experience.

Meditation is about being present. To think about where you want to be is projecting into the future and takes us away from the present. This is what evokes our mental anguish and suffering generally (including thinking about the past too by the way, but that’s a topic for discussion at a later date).

To find out about the benefits of meditating read my article What are the benefits of meditating? Here’s 4 plus 1 more BIGGY!

Guidance Helps

Being guided can definitely help particularly when we are a beginner but sometimes even when we’re not.  I’ve been taught and continue to be taught and expand my practise.

To help you on your way here are my Top 5 Best Value for Money Guided Meditations

I hope that this blog proves helpful to you. Please let me know what you think?

If you have any questions about this article or would like to know more about a particular topic that I haven’t yet covered, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Your feedback is appreciated.

Remember to go forth with ease and just be!  Martine




12 Comments

  • SD

    These meditation tips are very helpful to a beginner like me. I found the first and second points are e7asiest for me. But I find it difficult to focus on the inner body or the soul. How to do it? How to grow that much concentration?

    • Martine

      If point 2, focusing on the breath is easiest for you then that is perfect. That is still focusing within. Focusing on something other than that is just an alternative if staying with the breath is difficult. Through meditating you will become even more in tune with your inner body (even when not meditating). As far as the soul is concerned, I call this your essence or consciousness and an awareness/experience of this comes with time too – when we become still, quiet and the gap in our thinking lengthens. Steps 1 and 2 are enough – your concentration will increase with this. I hope this helps. I appreciate your comment and questions.

  • Tara

    I really enjoyed this article. i especially could relate to the part that discusses how we should stop trying so hard. Any time I have tried meditation I find I don’t do very well because I’m just simply trying too hard to get focused or achieve some particular state. This is a good reminder not to over complicate it. I also enjoy the emphasis on going against the grain and taking time to just stop for a while.

    Love the look of your site too!

  • Judy

    Hi

    Very pleased to have found this article.

    Its something that I have long thought about doing, but haven’t so far.

    I love your advice about just relaxing and letting things happen. I was surprised that you suggest not to concentrate on breathing, as I’ve always thought this was the thing to do.

    Having read this, I think I’m going to give meditation a trial, it seems too good to miss.

    Judy

    • Martine Brooks

      I hope you do give meditation a go. It has fantastic benefits. Yes, focusing on the breath is one of the fundamental techniques of meditation, but sometimes this can be difficult. So, my point is to not that let prevent you from meditating and if using an alternative as an anchor (i.e. point of focus) during your meditation e.g. like the heart, sensations in the hands or body) helps or is easier then go with that. You can always come back to the breath and vice versa. Here are some affordable online meditation courses that may be of help. Thanks very much for your comment.

  • Lisa

    Very useful tips, thank you! I try to meditate every day, but when I miss a day I do feel really guilty about it. I really appreciate “Stop trying” as a concept and its associated self care. Intellectually I understand that the whole point of being in the present means beating yourself up about what you didn’t do in the past is counter intuitive, but I find it hard to let go of sometimes.

    With regards to pose while meditating, are there instances where laying would be preferable to sitting or vice versa? I seem to naturally lay to mediate at night and sit in the morning, but I wonder if its related to natural energy requirements of the time of day.

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • Martine Brooks

      Yes, it’s not helpful to feel guilty. That’s just the ego. When we are truly present the mind activity ceases to exist. My suggestion would be to just watch the mind in order to go beyond it (sounds strange I know). When we are really present, there is no problem at all. Sitting is preferable because it helps with energy flow and wakefulness (contrary to what people think, meditation is really about a relaxed alertness). Laying down is ok if we feel we need to but of course the likelihood of falling asleep is increased and we tend to lose our focus and our mind can wander even more. When you are laying down you can raise your feet and plant them on the ground or bed (so your knees are up) to increase the likelihood of staying awake. But really, I’m just pleased to hear you are meditating twice per day, so if you have less energy during the day it’s ok to lay down and of course if there is some physical reason outside of tiredness that makes it difficult to sit. I would never recommend not meditating because you want to lay instead of sit. Meditation can actually increase our energy too. Thanks very much for your question and comment.

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