stones, meditation, zen

Meditation for Beginners


For beginners it feels intimidating, mysterious; impossible to master. It means sitting motionless for hours, wiping all thoughts from the mind, chanting mystical mantras. To the uninitiated meditation may seem a bit out there, but in reality it is a self-care modality that has been in use for thousands of years across multiple cultures. Current research is demonstrating that meditation can be extremely effective in combatting the overwhelming stressors of the modern digital world.

What It Is (And What It Is Not)

The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind and bring awareness to our thoughts. This is usually accomplished by connecting the breath to the body; in other words, focusing our attention on breathing and experiencing the mind/body connection that results. However, in a broader sense, meditation is any activity that promotes relaxation, makes you happy, or creates a moment of clarity and awareness (an “a-ha” moment.) The goal of meditation is not to silence the mind, but rather to observe our thoughts in a dispassionate way, acknowledging them but allowing them to drift away while we remain in the present moment. It provides the opportunity to zone out but not tune out.

How You Can Do It

Good news for beginners – there is no right or wrong way to meditate. The practice is entirely dependent upon your personal desires. For most, meditation involves finding a quiet, comfortable space with few distractions. Meditation can be done lying down, seated on the floor or in a comfortable chair, or even standing. Many people consider repetitive movement, such as running, hiking, or swimming to be ideal for meditation, as the rhythmic movements help them “get out of their heads”. Experiment with different pursuits until you find one that fits your style.

Most people find that quieting the mind is difficult the first few times they try it. In fact, our thoughts seem to race instead of recede, and then we become anxious because we aren’t doing it right. Fortunately, there are plentiful resources to help us hit the pause button. Here are a few suggestions:

Guided Meditation

YouTube alone has thousands of free guided meditations. They vary in length from 5 minutes to more than an hour, and you can fine tune the guidance to your specific needs. There are wordless meditations utilizing nature sounds, drums or chimes, or ethereal music. Spoken meditations by trained leaders focus on relaxation, forgiveness, abundance – the list is nearly endless. If you are a creative type, there are meditations that guide you through a fantasy world, helping you visualize symbolic images. Begin with short meditations and work up to extended length versions.


The practice of yoga is focused on connecting the breath and the body, and it is frequently called a “moving meditation”. Beginners should try a yin-style class, which focuses on stretching and relaxing specific regions of the body, or for more dynamic movement at a measured pace, a Hatha basics class. A professional instructor will cue the breathing pattern, and call attention to various muscle groups, taking the worry out of the practice and allowing participants to relax and focus on their movements.

Writing, Journaling, Coloring

Yes, you can meditate while your mind is engaged. Grab a pen or some colored pencils, and see what your mind comes up with. You can journal about your day, a particular issue you are wrestling with, or your hopes for the future. Allow any and all thoughts, writing them down without judgment. Something that seems ridiculous now might prove to be profound at a later time.


Unplug. No phone calls, no music, no chatting with a friend. Just you and your thoughts.

Meditation will not be easy at first, so commit to stay with it. Whatever your chosen method, practice it for at least ten minutes daily. Allow the “this is crazy!” thought, but release it and continue with your practice. (Note that meditation is called a practice, because rarely is it ever perfect!) Carve out the time for meditation, and be gentle with yourself as you become accustomed to this new awareness. Gradually you will find what works for you, then you can keep going back to it, and your confidence and ability to relax into the practice will increase.