I had just finished a hard day at work, and our team decided to go to a local bar for a quick drink before heading home.
At the bar, I’m chatting with one of the new members of the team and we somehow get to talking about meditation.
“Oh! Have you tried Vippassanna or QiGong?” She says. “I did a 10-day retreat and it was life-changing!” I stand there, eyes glazed over because all I’ve learned so far is to sit on a cushion and observe my breath.
If like me you’d like to learn a little more about the different types of meditation practice, this guide to mindfulness meditation for beginners is a great place to start.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
The first thing to know is that ‘Mindfulness‘ and ‘Meditation’ are not one and the same. You can practice mindfulness without meditating. Confused? Let me explain.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware and present in the moment, without judgment.
It involves paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, as well as your surroundings, without getting caught up in them.
Mindfulness encourages you to observe your experiences objectively and cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness toward your inner and outer world.
What’s important is that you keep your attention on the present moment, and bringing it back to the present when your mind wanders (and it will).
What Is Meditation?
This is a tough one to explain, as everyone seems to define it differently, but here’s my definition:
Meditation is a time-bound practice for improving awareness of your thoughts and sensations while practicing the exercise of returning your awareness to the focus of your meditation.
So a couple of key points:
Meditation is a set time when you stop everything to focus on the practice.
Awareness of thoughts and sensations
Meditation isn’t about having a mind empty of thoughts. It’s about noticing your thoughts and sensations, like something you said that made you feel uncomfortable, or how your back feels against the chair.
Returning your awareness to the focus of your meditation
This is the key part, your mind will wander. Guaranteed. And during your meditation practice when your mind trails off, you should gently bring it back to the focus of the meditation, which is usually called an anchor.
The anchor could be your breath, a word you are repeating, a sound, or the sensation of your feet as you walk. There are lots more anchors, but what’s common with all of them is that it brings you back to the present moment.
So What Is Mindfulness Meditation Then?
So now we understand what mindfulness practice is and what meditation is, mindfulness meditation is a set time to practice mindfulness training.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Regular mindfulness meditation practice offers numerous mental and physical health benefits, including:
Mindfulness meditation has been proven to reduce stress by helping you develop coping mechanisms and a more balanced perspective on life’s challenges.
Improved Focus and Concentration
By training your mind to stay present, you’ll enhance your ability to concentrate on tasks and avoid distractions.
Mindfulness meditation can help you manage negative emotions and cultivate a more positive mindset.
By calming your mind and reducing stress, mindfulness meditation can help you fall asleep more easily and enjoy better quality sleep.
These are just some of the benefits, you can read more about the benefits here.
How to Start Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners
Now you should have a better understanding of mindfulness and meditation. Starting a mindfulness meditation practice is easier than you might think. Just remember that some days you’ll have a good meditation… and some days bad. Follow these simple steps to start a simple practice:
1. Choose a quiet space
Find a comfortable, quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed during your meditation sessions. You don’t have to sit in any special way, you could sit on a chair or a cushion.
What’s important is that you can sit still for ten minutes and breath easily.
2. Set a timer
Start with just 5-10 minutes per day, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice.
You’ll probably feel a bit uncomfortable when you first start meditating, but this will get
3. Sit upright
Choose a comfortable seated position, such as sitting cross-legged on a cushion or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
Sit tall, with your back straight but not tense.
4. Focus on your breath
The breath is the most common of all meditation anchors, and that’s because it is always there when you need it.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest.
5. Observe your thoughts
When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
Try not to judge or analyze your thoughts; simply observe them and let them pass, like clouds in the sky.
6. Be kind to yourself
Remember, meditation is a practice. Don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders frequently. Also, try not to judge your thoughts no matter how controversial they are. They are just thoughts and not who you are.
With patience and consistency, you’ll improve your ability to stay in the present.
5 Basic Mindfulness Meditation Practices
As a beginner, you might be wondering where to start with mindfulness. Here are five mindfulness meditation practices to help you build a solid foundation:
Common Mindfulness Meditation Challenges and Tips
Starting a new meditation practice can be challenging. Here are some common obstacles beginners face and tips to overcome them:
Incorporating Mindfulness Meditation Exercises into Your Daily Life
To fully reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation, it’s essential to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life. Here are some tips to help you live more mindfully:
Practice mindful eating: Instead of eating on autopilot, slow down and savor each bite, paying attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food.
Take mindful breaks: Throughout the day, take short breaks to focus on your breath or do a mini body scan to help you stay present and centered.
Cultivate gratitude: At the end of each day, reflect on three things you’re grateful for. This practice can help you develop a more positive outlook and a greater appreciation for life’s small pleasures.
Engage in mindful communication: When speaking with others, practice active listening and give them your full attention. This will deepen your relationships and help you connect more authentically.
Mindfulness meditation for beginners is a powerful and accessible practice that can help you reduce stress, improve your mental and physical health, and lead a more balanced, mindful life. While you can practice mindfulness in other daily activities, a set time is a great way to build a meditation habit.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create a mindfulness meditation habit, read this post next.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.