Beginner’s guide to meditation mindset – how can I start meditating?
If you are interested in meditation, but never found time to start, your mindset towards meditation may be stopping you. You may be wondering, “I can’t sit still for 30 minutes…” or “How can I make my mind void during meditation, it sounds super difficult”, I’m telling you that you don’t need to sit still for 30 minutes or make you mind void!
So what is meditation, really? How can you start meditating to feel calmer and more grounded?
There is no need to worry. I will explain what meditation is in a simple manner, answer all the questions you may have about meditation, and show you how you can start meditation!
Ready to have a 180-degree different relationship with your emotions in order to feel more relaxed and cope with your stress?
Alright, let’s do this!
What is meditation?
You may kind of know what meditation is. But what is it, really?
As the master of meditation, John Kabat-Zinn says,
“Meditation is about attending the present moment on purpose non-judgementally”
It makes sense right? However, in this busy society, it can be hard for us to slow down and focus on the present moment without thinking about the past or future.
If you are here, on my blog, wanting to learn about meditation, maybe you want to feel grounded, peaceful, and calm. So how can you do that?
Don’t worry. I will show you simple ways to prepare you for your meditation journey. First, let’s take a look at the different types of meditation.
Formal and informal meditation
Did you know meditation is divided into formal and informal meditation? I didn’t know that until recently.
Formal meditation is something that has a specific name like body scan, sitting meditation, mindful hatha yoga, and mindful walking!
On the other hand, informal meditation is simply being aware of what’s going on in your daily life.
Some people may say “I’m very mindful. I don’t need to actually sit and practice meditation!” That’s exactly how I felt too.
I totally get how you feel. It took a while for me to actually start meditating in a formal way. In the beginning, I felt like meditation is something only hippies do!
So why do you actually need to sit or lie down and meditate?
John Kabat-Zinn says
“You can’t do the life practice unless you’re grounding in the formal practice, because all you need to do is to get your ass on the cushion!”
So is formal meditation more effective? For me, my life changed so much after I started making formal meditation a daily habit!
How did I change?
I started to be more aware of what’s happening in my life, and I started handling anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness in a very mindful way.
Maybe you want to incorporate meditation into your daily life, but the idea of meditation is intimidating.
Let’s take a look at the basic meditation mindset to get rid of the prejudice you may have!
When you think about meditation, what kind of images come to you?
For me, after I had a meditation experience at a temple in Kyoto with a Buddhist monk, I thought meditation is about making my mind void and sitting still for 1 hour! Honestly, I thought “How can people do this?”
So why did my perspective towards meditation change?
Well, I started watching the Mindfulness class on MasterClass two months ago, and John Kabat-Zinn totally changed the way I see meditation. I’d like to answer the questions you may have about meditation now!!
1. It’s hard for me to sit still. Can I still meditate?
This was my biggest question before I started meditation. To be honest with you, I’m really not good at sitting still.
If you are used to being busy every day, you may think it’s hard to sit still and do nothing!
Don’t worry, you are not alone.
It may seem unproductive to sit still for a little while and not complete tasks, but it is actually productive to pause for a few minutes then keep moving on to the next thing.
Why is that?
Think this way. If you don’t take a mental break and constantly jump on to the next task instead, you may end up feeling depleted at the end of the day.
Once you are depleted, it will become harder to recover. So taking small mental breaks throughout the day is important and meditation is a perfect way to do this!
2. Can I cure my stress if I meditate?
Maybe you have this thought that if you meditate, you can cure your stress. I totally get you.
In fact, I used to think having stress is a bad thing and I thought I needed to get rid of it!
If you believe stress is bad for you and you believe that you should get rid of it, I have surprising news for you.
A researcher team at UC Barkley found out that short-lived stress can improve brain performance! Also, they say moderate stress keeps your brain alert, which leads to better function!
On top of these two amazing benefits, short-term moderate stress can help you when you are in a similar difficult situation the next time (I need to emphasize here that they are talking about short-term and non-acute stress).
Interestingly, another study shows that knowing how to cope with a difficult situation can help you fight back against stress!
Despite the fact that moderate stress can be healthy for you, you may not want to continue feeling stressed, and this is when meditation can play a huge role!
Like I mentioned earlier, you will exercise your awareness muscle by meditating, and your awareness can help you recognize when you are stressed.
Why recognition is important? Recognizing is the first HUGE step and once you recognize how you feel, you can think about how you can cope with the situation!
3. How can I perfect my meditation?
Since we were little kids, we were constantly asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and we are expected to have goals and work hard towards them.
So it’s natural for all of us to feel like “I need to perfect this!”
Believe it or not, I had this thought when I started meditation. I felt like how can I become a BETTER meditation practitioner?
What changed my mind?
Well, John Kabat-Zinn taught me that I’m already WHOLE and I’m already PERFECT with the way I am right now.
This thought was brand new for me since I always felt like I needed to improve myself.
So I’m telling you, “You are already WhOLE and you are already PERFECT“.
Some day, it may be easy to feel calm. Some day, it may not. But it’s OK!
Well, you can see yourself as a mountain.
One day, the weather may be sunny and the sky is clear. One day, it may be rainy and stormy. One day, it may be snowy and cold.
It’s impossible to get sunny days everyday. It’s ok to feel stormy sometimes.
By practicing meditation, you will able to have a new relationship with your emotions in challenging situations.
4. When should I meditate?
I recognized that meditating at different times of the day has different effects.
Really? – Yes!
Let’s look at how meditating at different times of day can make a difference!
– Intention meditation is a great way to set an intention for the day.
– Gratitude meditation helps you treasure what you have now and helps you appreciate your life at difficult times.
– Grounding meditation can help you pause for a moment between tasks throughout the day
- 1-3 minute meditation during work can prevent feeling overwhelmed and help you feel less anxious
- Meditating 5-10 minutes at night can help you feel calm, relaxed, grounded, and give you a mini mind-vacation.
- Meditating 5-10 minutes before bed can help you sleep better
So, depending on what you want from meditation, you can choose to meditate in the morning, afternoon, or at night. Maybe all of them suit your needs!
5. What kind of benefits does meditation have?
If you are interested in meditation, you may be really curious about what kind of benefits you can expect.
There are so many benefits of meditation, but let me share my experience with you.
For me, the biggest changes I felt in myself include being able to:
- Manage anxiety
- Notice when I’m stressed and cope with it
- Manage anger
- Manage sadness
- Reduce migranes and menstrual cramps by focusing on breathing
- Be less judgemental of myself
- Be more productive
- Worry less
Are you curious about the area in which I feel I changed the most? Self-judgement.
I tend to be harsh on myself, and I used to criticize myself so much when I had a fight with my boyfriend even when it was not my fault.
So how did I become less judgemental of myself?
Again, John Kabat-Zinn told me that it’s OK to judge myself and I can simply notice that I am judging!
Once you can recognize you are judging yourself during meditation, maybe you will realize it’s not ACTUALLY how things are!
After you separate your thoughts and facts, you can choose to be more kind and compassionate to yourself – how you’d treat your best friend!
6. I get distracted. How can I shut off my mind when I meditate?
I remember feeling upset with myself that I was so distracted when I started meditation.
Do I get distracted by my thoughts now? Yes, all the time!
In fact, there is no need to worry about getting distracted by thoughts during meditation. It’s our nature that our minds get busy. So there is no need to shut off your mind while meditating.
So, you just leave your busy mind during meditation? Wasn’t the purpose of meditation to feel calm and stay in the present moment without worrying about the past or future?
It’s not quite about shutting off our thoughts to feel calm, and I will show you HOW you can do that!
How to start meditating
If you are like me, you may be wondering “I want to start meditating but I can’t sit still for 30 minutes!”.
Somehow, we all have this image of meditation that we have to sit for a while to benefit from it. Maybe it’s stopping you from taking the first step to meditation. For me, it was!
What if I tell you that you don’t need to sit still for 30 minutes but only 3 minutes?
3 minutes Will it really work
Believe it or not, I dedicated 3 minutes a day to meditation for the first two months after I started meditating, and I found tremendous differences in me in many different aspects! (If you are interested in how I changed in 2 months, you can take a look at this article I wrote!)
So let’s dive into how you can start meditating TODAY and start feeling the benefits!
The goal for meditation is not about being able to meditate longer.
Why is that?
Well, you may be able to meditate for 15 minutes today but if you find it troublesome the next day, you won’t do it.
The most important thing is if you are consistent or not. Not the length of the meditation!
So how long should you meditate a day if you are thinking of starting a meditation practice?
I would say 1 minute!
1 minute!? That’s so short! – Yes, it’s short! Remember, starting meditation is a HUGE step for you! So just start with baby steps! Statistics show if you follow baby steps, you are more likely to stick to it!
Use Guided meditation
Have you ever tried to set a timer on your phone and meditate for 10 minutes?
Before I knew about “guided meditation”, I thought it was impossible to meditate!
It doesn’t mean someone who can meditate without a guide is better than you! Meditation isn’t a competition ????
In fact, I started meditating almost 5 months ago but I never meditated without a guide.
So how can you find good guided meditation? – I have a couple of recommendations for you!
My Recommendations ⭐️
Free meditation app – Insight Timer
Free guided meditation by UCLA – https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations#english
So I told you earlier in this article that you don’t need to worry about getting distracted by your thoughts.
Then how can you meditate while your distractive thoughts are swirling around you?
One thing you can do is to welcome any thought that comes to you during meditation. As John Kabat-Zinn says “Put out the welcome mat“.
What does “Putting out the welcome mat” mean? – You welcome any of your thoughts even if it’s a dark thought to your guest house. Just say “What’s up!? Welcome! How are you doing today?”.
But how exactly you can work with thoughts and emotions during meditation?
You can imagine chairs in your mind and let those thoughts sit while you’re meditating if anything comes up.
You don’t have to interfere with them. Like you wouldn’t go up on stage during a play and act with actors! Once you show your thought to a seat, you can go back to focusing on your breathing.
I hope my meditation tips were helpful for you and assisted you in taking the first step in your meditation journey!