5 Easy Meditation Techniques for Beginners (and How to Know Where to Start)

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Years ago, meditation and mindfulness practice changed my life in ways I had never imagined were possible.

I’m not talking about increased productivity, the ability to make more money in my business, or some sort of mind-altering evolution, though. These are all things we chase in hopes of feeding our ego so that we can solve the “real” problem- that we feel a “void” within ourselves and we think we need something to “fill it up”.

What mindfulness and meditation did do for me was:

  • Teach me how to become friends with myself and handle the inner dialogue that brings us down
  • Show me how to more skillfully manage the challenges of everyday life including my once heavy stress and anxiety
  • Give me the ability to tap into a deep sense of joy through cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation for life
  • And come in touch with a basic sense of peace that’s beyond the ebbs and flows of daily life.

Mindfulness is the first form of meditation I suggest someone start with because it’s the most fundamental of meditation practices and easy to learn (although not always easy to practice, particularly in the beginning).

In a basic sense, it’s really just us becoming more aware, more present, in our daily life. However, when done with a sense of intent focus in a ritualized manner, any discursive mindfulness practice can become a deeply nourishing form of meditation.

You can do anything in mindfulness. And it’s because you can do anything in mindfulness that it’s those things which we do most often, each and every day, that make up the core mindfulness practices: breathing, walking, eating, and really anything else to do with the body.

However, there’s more to it than that. These foundational exercises also happen to be some of the best mindfulness and meditation techniques for beginners as well. They’re simple, straightforward and relatively easy to learn and each has its own unique property which means there is a practice that fits essentially every type of beginner.

There are different ways to enter the “way” or path of mindfulness practice. Each of us brings to the practice a different set of life experiences, quirks, and preferences and these influence which practice we’re better suited for.

Aside from just introducing each meditation and mindfulness practice, I’ll be explaining certain advantages each practice has and why you might be especially suited for that particular practice more than another.

Ultimately, my advice is to develop your practice to where each and every one of these mindfulness practices is a part of your daily life. However, in the beginning, you have to start somewhere.

When you’re first starting out, there are generally four exercises more than anything that you should focus on (plus a bonus fifth that I’ll mention at the end). My advice? Pick one and stick to it for a week or two.

Get the hang of what it feels like to be mindful. That’s the most important thing in the beginning. Get the feeling of the practice and get used to practicing mindfulness in general, at least, to some degree. Once you do that, you can expand to a second mindfulness practice and so on.

What you’ll quickly notice is that by keeping it simple and focusing on a few basic everyday activities you’ll bring mindfulness and the practice of meditation into your life more quickly and effectively. 

Here are five great meditation techniques for beginners of all kinds:

5 Easy Meditation Techniques for Beginners (and How to Know Where to Start)

1. Mindful Breathing

This is the most common and basic of mindfulness and meditation techniques as a whole. The breath holds much significance within meditation practice and mindful breathing is the practice the Buddha suggested starting with.

How to Know If You Should Start Here:

For the reasons mentioned above, mindful breathing is the practice most start with. It’s simple, easy to learn and the breath is a perfect point of concentration for meditative practice. This is the practice I’d suggest everyone begin with unless you find that one of the other 4 following practices calls to you more.

An important side note: Don’t necessarily take your initial difficulty with the practice as a sign that this particular mindfulness practice isn’t suited for you.

I say this because, in the beginning, most everyone feels as though their minds are in chaos. I felt as though I was crawling out of my skin in the beginning when trying to sit in meditation. It will likely be so bad that you question whether you’re even doing the practice of not.

However, any effort made to stop and follow the breath mindfully (or any mindfulness practice, for that matter) will work towards calming the mind, and with time, you’ll notice a distinct difference.

Where to Start:

The resources below (and the resources listed in this section for each proceeding meditation practice) will help you get started. Most mindfulness and meditation practices listed in this post have both a written guide and a downloadable guided meditation for you to make use of so that you can effectively learn the practice:

2. Mindful Walking / Walking Meditation

Mindful walking, also referred to as walking meditation, is one of the most common of all meditative practices. In Zen, the practice of kinhin (“walking meditation” in Japanese) goes hand-in-hand with the practice of zazen (“sitting/seated meditation” in Japanese), with practitioners typically doing a session of kinhin following zazen.

How to Know If You Should Start Here:

Mindful walking is a great beginner practice if you’re either always on the go or find yourself especially restless while trying to sit in meditation.

That isn’t to say you should avoid sitting, but rather that starting with the practice of walking meditation for a week or two can be more effective at first, afterward adding in a regular sitting meditation practice. Then, continuing with the practice of walking meditation regularly, especially when you find it particularly difficult to sit in meditation.

3. Mindfulness of Body / Mindfulness Body Scan

If you take a skim through, you’ll notice the 4 mindfulness practices listed in this post all deal with being mindful of the body in some way. They all do essentially fall within the Buddha’s first “foundation of mindfulness”, which is mindfulness of body, but this is referring to a specific practice that has to do with coming in touch with your entire body via the sensations you’re feeling at that given moment in time.

Mindfulness of body, also called a mindful / mindfulness body scan, is the practice of “scanning” the body with your awareness and noticing various sensations such as warmth, heaviness, pain, movement, and moisture. Really, it’s the practice of noticing what’s going on in the body- how and what the body is communicating.

How to Know If You Should Start Here:

Mindfulness of body is a great practice for anyone who experiences chronic pain of any kind. It’s a great practice in general, though, because most of us live out our lives without ever really coming in touch with our physical body in an intimate way. Rather, we move about our life as though our body is just a transportation system for our head.

A mindful body scan is also a great practice for anyone who has trouble sleeping. Doing the complete practice right before bed really helps improve the quality of one’s sleep.

4. Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is another core mindfulness practice. In Zen centers and monasteries, meals are eaten mindfully and in total silence, becoming its own kind of meditation practice in itself.

However, the practice of mindful eating, like the other mindfulness practices mentioned thus far, is very simple and straightforward and essentially revolves around the act of chewing and experiencing the food in front of you with all of your being.

How to Know If You Should Start Here:

If you find yourself having difficulty getting a feel for the practice in the beginning, specifically if you’re practicing and you just can’t tell if you’re being mindful or not, mindful eating may be the perfect practice for you to start with.

The flavors, textures, and smells of the food we eat are all opportunities to help us better connect with the practice. In the beginning, this is especially helpful due to our ability is very subtle and it can be difficult to know if you’re doing the practice “right”.

Start, or shift over, here if you’re having said difficulty while attempting to practice mindful breathing or another practice. Once you get the hang of it, you can add to your practice and begin sitting daily as well.

5. Loving-kindness Meditation (with a Switch Up)

This isn’t a specifically mindfulness-related practice, so I’m cheating a bit here. However, the traditional practice of loving-kindness meditation has a very much mindful aspect to it that’s worth mentioning and it’s a great meditation practice in general (one of the most valuable, I believe).

From my guide How to Practice Loving-kindness Meditation:

The practice of loving-kindness, or metta/maitri (Pali/Sanskrit for love or kindness), meditation is a meditation practice which has been passed down since the time of the Buddha over 2500 years ago.

Loving-kindness meditation, or “LKM” for short, is about opening up the heart and cultivating love and compassion for ourselves and others.

How to Know If You Should Start Here:

So, why did I choose to include this unique meditation practice? There are a few reasons. First, it’s one of the foundational meditation practices as taught by the Buddha and it has a completely different flavor which many would simply prefer to start with.

The cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion for others is, in many ways, a spiritual path all in itself which includes such notable teachers as the Buddha (a great modern day example of this path is the Dalai Lama. Another great teacher to look into is Sharon Salzberg, I love her “Street Loving-Kindness” practice), the late Indian guru Maharaji, and even Jesus Christ.

It’s worth mentioning then that the unifying factors in most of the world’s religious traditions is in the preaching of love for all beings. Some come to the practice of meditation looking to deepen their own spiritual practice. For that reason alone, it’s worth mentioning.

More than that, though, loving-kindness meditation is a beautiful practice that opens up the world and your connection with other living beings in a way that few things can.

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