Meditation has many physical, mental and emotional benefits. If you’re interested in stress relief, improved focus or a greater sense of inner peace, meditation can be a powerful tool. Here’s a quick and easy guide to meditation for beginners, to help you get started in 8 simple steps.
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A Quick Guide to Meditation for Beginners
A meditation practice can change your life.
If you’re new to meditation and don’t know where to begin, all you need is a quiet place and a few minutes of time and these 8 simple steps.
Reduce stress, depression, anxiety and pain, slow the effect of aging, and improve happiness, concentration, awareness, and overall physical health (e.g., immune and cardiovascular health), by learning how to meditate.
We’ve outlined the 8 simple steps of meditation every beginner needs to know to help get your practice started. And if you would like to bring the benefits of mindfulness and meditation to your family, we talk all about that too in our blog post on simple mindfulness activities for kids.
If you can breathe, you can meditate. Here’s a quick and easy guide on meditation for beginners, to help you get started in just eight simple steps . . . .
Meditation for Beginners: A Step-By-Step Guide
A meditation practice can put you on the path to a greater sense of calm, clarity and well-being in your daily life. In this step-by-step guide to meditation for beginners, we will explore the art and practice of meditation, a transformative practice that can have many physical, mental and emotional benefits (including self-discovery and improved inner peace). Whether you are looking to de-stress from the demands of the day or aiming to cultivate mindfulness, let’s break down the fundamental steps of meditation for beginners. Are you ready to start a fulfilling meditation practice? Let’s find out the simple steps of meditation that every beginner needs to know . . .
Step 1. Find a Quiet Place, Sit Comfortably
Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you won’t be easily distracted or disturbed. This can be a corner of a room, a meditation cushion or even a peaceful spot outside in nature. Eliminate distractions as best you can to create an environment that is conducive to your relaxation.
In this quiet place, you can then sit, lie down or get comfortable in a restful yoga pose (e.g., legs up the wall). You’ll want to find a position that is restful yet alert, as you don’t want to end up so relaxed that you’ll doze off or fall asleep. For example, you can sit on a cushion or chair with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Rest your hands on your knees or in your lap. Finding a comfortable position is key to meditation for beginners and sustaining your practice.
Finding a quiet place and sitting comfortably creates the foundation of your practice.
Step 2. Breathe and Focus
Close your eyes gently and turn your attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of each inhale and exhale. Focus on the natural rhythm of your breath, allowing it to be a guide for your awareness. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
You can focus on your breath or even on a mantra. Simply do your best to keep your attention on whichever you choose. Close your eyes or use white noise to help stay focused. Chanting is not required (unless you want to try it). In this second step of meditation for beginners, you are allowing your breath to serve as a focal point, promoting a sense of presence and relaxation.
Step 3. Clear Your Mind
Continue to focus on your breath until this focus naturally fades. Let it go and allow your mind to naturally clear. Once it does, know that it’s natural for thoughts to arise during this part of your meditation practice. Instead of trying to suppress them, acknowledge their presence and just let them pass without judgment. Imagine your thoughts as clouds drifting across the sky (that easily come and go) while you remain grounded and centered in your breath.
If you can, release the need to control or engage with every thought that passes through your mind, creating a mental space for stillness and clarity (a key goal that meditation for beginners is striving for).
Step 4. Observe (Mindfulness)
Observe the space that exists between your focus (that you’ve just let go) and your next thought that passes through. You can also observe the space that exists between one thought to the next. As you practice, these spaces will become more noticeable and apparent, lasting longer and longer.
You are bringing mindfulness to your meditation practice by being observant, paying attention to the present moment and to the space that exists between your thoughts. Calmly engage your senses – notice the sounds around you, feel the sensation of your breath, and be aware of the feelings in your body – letting it all come and go. Awareness and observation. Mindfulness enhances meditation for beginners (and the overall meditation experience).
Foster a deeper connection with your surroundings and with yourself promoting a heightened sense of awareness.
Step 5. Release Thoughts
You will notice that your mind will continuously wander back to a thought (sometimes even within seconds, especially as a beginner). This is absolutely ok, simply notice the thought and once again release it. Visualize the thought drifting away, like a floating cloud on the breeze.
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Instead of resisting or dwelling on thoughts, gently let them go (as described above). Understand and embrace the transient nature of each thought that passes, allowing your mind to return to a state of calm awareness and focus, without attachment to the thoughts or any other distractions that may arise. Release.
Step 6. Refocus (Meditation for Beginners)
Bring your awareness back to your breath or to your mantra. Continue to focus as you did before (in Step 2), redirecting your attention back to your breath or chosen focal point whenever you notice that your mind is wandering. By consistently bringing your focus back, you strengthen your ability to remain present and centered throughout your meditation. Refocusing is one of the most important steps (and at times, biggest challenges) of meditation for beginners.
Step 7. Repeat and Gradually Increase
Repeat this process (Steps 2-6) until your meditation time is over (set a timer on your phone to play soft chimes letting you know). Start with 5-10 minutes in the morning and before bed, gradually increasing your meditation time as you progress in your practice.
Starting with shorter sessions of 5-10 minutes, and gradually increasing the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice, is particularly important to meditation for beginners. Consistent, shorter sessions can be more effective than sporadic longer ones. Find a duration that works for you and fits into your daily routine (remembering that consistency is key).
Meditation is a journey of repetition, practice and refinement. Gradually increase the duration of your sessions and repeat these steps consistently, developing a sustainable routine of meditation for beginners that aligns with your unique preferences and promotes a sense of inner peace over time.
Step 8. Set Realistic Expectations
One of the most important things to remember about meditation for beginners is that it is a skill that develops over time. Don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders or if you find it challenging to stay focused initially. Be patient with yourself and set realistic expectations. Consistency is much, much more important than perfection.
More Meditation for Beginners
Throughout this post, we’ve shared with you a few popular and well-regarded books on meditation, some specifically on meditation for beginners, to help you get started with your new wellness practice. From Dan Harris’ #1 New York Times bestseller 10% Happier (5th Anniversary Edition) that includes guided meditations and is also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for best nonfiction, to Sheryl Salzberg’s 28-day meditation program Real Happiness (10th Anniversary Edition) and several others. These respected titles are sure to help you begin your meditation journey and bring your wellness practice to the next level.
In case you need even more meditation guides or book suggestions (especially when it comes to meditation for beginners), here are three more popular resources available on Amazon that are sure to elevate your new meditation practice and have you soon seeking that inner peace like a pro. Get ready to introduce one of the most relaxing self-care activities possible to your daily routine (these meditation books will help you do it).
- Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers – “A modernized approach to meditation that will appeal to anyone, even if – especially if – you believe you have no time, you can’t sit still, or that ‘it’s just not you'” by Suze Yalof Schwartz and Debra Goldstein.
- Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life – “A book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding ‘lesson-a-day’ primer on mindfulness practice by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation – A beginner’s guide often considered “one of the best available introductions to the wisdom and beauty of meditation practice” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in Every Day – A guide to exercises and “practical guidance for anyone who wants to realize the benefits of mindful meditation” including beginners, by Matthew Sockolov.
Meditation for Beginners
Meditation can be a life-changing practice with many benefits. By following these seven steps of meditation for beginners, you can start to lay the foundation of a sustainable practice that brings greater calmness, focus, sense of inner peace and many other benefits to your daily life. Remember, meditation is a personal journey that is different for everyone. Explore different methods or techniques to find what is best for you.
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