Meditation Ideas for Beginners: 20 Tips and Techniques for Starting Your Practice

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Meditation Ideas for Beginners. Photo of a person connecting to divine energy.

As someone who just started a meditation practice last month after years of wanting to get into it, I have quickly learned what works and what doesn’t when you’re brand new. Meditation has already begun to positively impact my life, even as a beginner!

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share 15 practical tips, mistakes to avoid, and the easiest meditation techniques to help you start and stick with a rewarding practice.

Key Takeaways:

  • Start by sitting comfortably and bringing nonjudgmental awareness to the breath
  • Begin with just 2-5 minutes daily to establish consistency
  • Try seated postures like chairs, cushions, or kneeling first
  • Keep eyes open initially if needed to stay engaged
  • Use external focal points like candles or objects to steady attention
  • Follow guided meditations to understand the mechanics
  • Patiently return to your anchor as thoughts come up
  • Aim for daily practice, even if very brief sessions
  • Stay positive by tracking completed days on a calendar
  • Attend gentle group meditations to ease perfectionist tendencies
  • Stick to simple mindfulness, walking, or body scan techniques first
  • Remember that meditation is meant to be relaxing

20 Meditation Ideas for Beginners

Here are 20 meditation tips and ideas when just getting started.  Attempt each idea every day as a part of your daily meditation practice, inside or outside meditation.

IdeaDescription
1. Breath focusFocus on the sensations of breathing
2. Mantra meditationRepeat a word or phrase silently
3. Walking meditationPay close attention to the physical sensations while walking slowly
4. Body scanSystematically focus attention on different parts of the body
5. Loving-kindnessCultivate feelings and thoughts of goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards yourself and others
6. VisualizationForm mental images to relax, solve problems, or achieve goals
7. Mindful eatingPay close attention to the tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and appearance of food
8. Mindful movementIncorporate mindfulness into exercise like yoga or tai chi
9. Nature meditationFocus your awareness on sights, textures, smells and sounds while outside
10. Labeling thoughtsIdentify thoughts and feelings by silently applying a label
11. Open monitoringRemain attentively aware of whatever enters your mind without judgment
12. Music meditationListen closely to music without doing anything else
13. Guided meditationFollow verbal guidance that leads you into and out of meditation
14. Labyrinth walkingSlowly walk a winding path while focusing inward
15. Mindful artFocus attention on drawing, coloring, sculpting, or crafting
16. Mantra chantingChant mantras aloud in a group
17. Mindful readingSlowly read while noticing thoughts and distractions
18. Prayer meditationUse prayer to still and focus the mind
19. Mindful drivingPay close attention to driving without distractions
20. Beach meditationFocus on sounds and sensations at the beach

What is the best way for a complete beginner to start a meditation practice?

When I first decided I wanted to meditate, I was extremely overwhelmed. Every search brought up more information and types of meditation than I knew what to do with!

I’ve since learned that the best way to start is to simply focus on your breath—no need to get fancy or aim for perfection.

Set Aside Some Time: The NHS suggests starting your day with meditation to set yourself up well and ending it with meditation to release tension before bed​​.

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and bring nonjudgmental awareness to the feeling of air entering and leaving your body. When thoughts come up, gently return your attention back to your breath. That’s it!

Establishing this foundation has made understanding other practices much more accessible over time.

“Meditation can be simple but transformative. The most important thing for a beginner is to just start following the breath, no matter how basic it may seem at first.”

How long should a beginning meditation session last?

New to meditation, I learned quickly that I needed to start small with session length to build consistency. For the first month, I aimed for just 5-10 minutes daily to work up to longer sits.

It’s easy to set lofty goals starting out, but trying to sit still for 30+ minutes can seem daunting and frankly, boring. By setting a short timer, I was able to build the habit without getting discouraged.

Now I’m up to 20-minute meditations most days! But I needed the momentum those early 5 minute sessions gave me.

Tip: Start with just 2-5 minutes if needed. Any meditation is better than none when establishing consistency.

What posture or position is best for beginner meditation?

I experimented with posture quite a bit, as comfort and stability are crucial when working on mindfulness. While the classic cross-legged pose may look serene, I found it nearly impossible to sit like that for more than a minute!

Luckily, there are many beginner-friendly positions to try, like:

  • Sitting upright on a chair or cushion, feet planted flat on the floor
  • Lying on your back in bed or on a yoga mat
  • Sitting on a cushion with your back supported against a wall
  • Kneeling on a cushion with your hips resting on your heels

I suggest starting sessions seated in whatever aligned but relaxed position works for your body. I use a firm pillow on the floor, but a chair or couch also works great for early sits.

Tip: Get into comfortable clothing in a peaceful environment. Supporting your body properly allows your full focus to go to your breath.

Is it better to meditate with eyes open or closed when first starting out?

When I first began, I made it a point to focus on the breath, I assumed closing my eyes was necessary to meditate correctly. But I quickly realized keeping eyes at least slightly open initially can be extremely helpful for maintaining alert focus as a novice.

Opening my eyes whenever I felt my attention or energy lagging made a world of difference in being able to sit longer. Now, I keep them relaxed but open with a softened gaze for most sits.

Over time and with practice, working up to full eyes closed meditation is great. But be compassionate with yourself early on if that level of stillness is still developing.

Tip: Try alternating between open and closed eyes if needed. Do what allows you to stay engaged. There’s no one right way in the beginning!

What objects can a beginner focus their attention on during meditation

While the breath is often used as an “anchor” for attention in meditation, focusing on an external object can also be very centering for beginners. Nice alternatives include:

  1. Candle flame:
    “Concentration meditation involves focusing… on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala.”
  2. Mala beads:
    “Concentration meditation involves focusing… on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala.”

Pick an item calling to you intuitively and use its visual details to steady your attention during practice. This can help build concentration skills to eventually work up to less reliance on external focus.

Good guided meditations for beginners

As someone completely new to the concept, I found having an instructor guide me through steps incredibly supportive early on. It relieved pressure to know what I was supposed to be doing.

I highly recommend trying introductory episodes from the Ten Percent Happier app or the Calm app. There are also great free guided meditations on YouTube.

Hearing cues like “return your attention gently back to the breath” helped me establish the mechanics of mindfulness without judgment. I still use these sometimes when I need a refresher!

What should a beginner do if they find it difficult to clear their mind

When I first started attempting to meditate, I became so disheartened that my mind just would not stop thinking or focusing on to-do lists and responsibilities no matter how hard I tried to clear it.

I have since learned that having an active, wandering mind is completely normalespecially for novices! Meditation is ultimately the practice of calmly returning focus to the present no matter how often attention drifts.

Some things that help me are:

  • Repeating a centering phrase like “breathing in calm, breathing out tension”.
  • Visualizing thoughts as clouds passing by rather than distractions needing to be eliminated.
  • Rewarding myself for noticing my mind wandered versus judging myself for allowing it.
  • Using background sounds like rain or tibetan singing bowls to ease back into my body.

The most important thing is to stay patient and kind with your abilities as a beginner. Thoughts will arise, and that’s okay. Keep bringing yourself back each time with compassion.

How frequently each week should a beginner aim to meditate when starting a practice

I found the benefits of meditation became much more noticeable after sticking to short but consistent daily practice for a full month.

Experts say establishing this kind of routine allows the neural pathways supporting awareness and focus to strengthen. Missing days can slow that momentum.

For beginners, brief sessions of just 5-15 minutes every day are ideal to build the habit with ease. Once your mind acclimates to the process, gradually increasing sit length becomes more comfortable.

I know making time each morning or evening can seem daunting. To make frequency feel less intimidating, remember that even two minutes are powerful for a novice! Then build up at your own pace from there.

Tip: To make consistency easier, couple your new meditation practice with an existing daily habit like morning tea or taking vitamins.

What are some signs a beginner is meditating correctly?

As someone brand new to the practice, I often worried whether I was “doing it right”, as the process of mindfulness itself involves releasing attachment to results.

Over time though, I’ve noticed some positive signs my beginner practice is effectively developing:

  • Returning attention to the breath gets easier
  • Sitting still feels more natural
  • Falling into thought chains happens less frequently
  • Letting go of distractions becomes more automatic
  • Session length can gradually increase
  • Awareness of body and emotions improves

Most tellingly – the relaxation and groundedness cultivated during practice starts to carry over into the rest of my day.

The ultimate sign of progress is feeling more present outside of meditation!

Of course, stay patient with yourself as a novice. But if you notice some of those behavioral shifts, that’s a great indication your practice is deepening in healthy ways.

What types of meditation are easiest for a complete novice

Meditation Ideas for Beginners. Space with candles and pillows.

These 3 types have been the most beginner-friendly in my experience:

Mindfulness meditation – Sitting quietly while guiding awareness to sensations of breathing.

Walking meditation – Slow mindful movement focusing on physical footsteps.

Body scan meditation – Sequentially relaxing each body area.

I suggest sticking to simple practices like these when first starting out. More complex methods can be introduced after getting comfortable with the basics.

The central themes are single-tasking attention, non-striving presence, and compassionate resetting of focus when the mind does inevitably wander with time.

What mistakes do beginners commonly make when learning to meditate

Now having a month of practice under my belt, I definitely see some problematic thought patterns in myself and others at the novice level.

Some big beginner pitfalls include:

  • Getting discouraged by how frequently attention drifts
  • Expecting meditation to instantly and permanently calm the mind
  • Judging themselves for “failing” when losing focus
  • Worrying about external stillness rather than internal awareness
  • Pushing themselves into discomfort like strained postures
  • Skipping days once motivation decreases after initial enthusiasm
  • Overanalyzing instead of allowing the practice to unfold

I still catch myself falling into a couple of these traps if I’ve had a stressful day. The antidote is always reminding myself that meditation is a lifelong journey of compassionate baby steps!

How can a beginner make meditation a consistent daily habit

Two helpful strategies have allowed me to stick with my early meditation commitment:

1. Only set a timeline for showing up.

Aim to sit for your intended session length or longer, but forgive sessions cut short if needed that day.

2. Track progress with a physical calendar.

Coloring in each day completed gives a satisfying visual streak. Build enough days in a row and skipping becomes less appealing!

Combining these – focusing on consistency first, but still noting completed days – has worked well for me so far as a beginner establishing lifelong practice.

And if you miss a day after a long streak? Simply begin again. Judge-free awareness is the goal of meditation after all!

What benefits of meditation might a beginner notice first

While benefits like reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and lowered blood pressure can develop with consistent, long-term meditation, novices may notice more subtle shifts right away:

  • Increased patience – Practice helps accept life’s daily frustrations better.
  • Heightened focus – Attention gets less scattered as presence strengthens.
  • Slowed reaction time – Space for considering responses widens.
  • Appreciation of silence – External quiet starts feeling rich versus empty.
  • Body awareness – Physical sensations become more noticeable.
  • Curiosity about thoughts – They seem less like absolute truths.
  • Presence renewal – Quick recentering gets easier if distracted.

Of course, stick with practice to receive the vast physical and mental health rewards over time. But tuning into some of these initial changes kept me feeling encouraged as a beginner!

Is meditating alone or in a group better when first starting out

As someone with an easily-wandering mind, I assumed meditating solo would be the only way I could gain focus as a beginner.

But interestingly, I’ve found attending some beginner-friendly guided group meditations incredibly grounding for my practice!

Read and Reflect: Mayo Clinic also suggests reading poems or sacred texts and reflecting on their meaning as a form of meditation. Listening to sacred or inspiring music can enhance this experience​​.

Sitting quietly alongside other novices, hearing their occasional movement, knowing everyone’s attention drifts but we compassionately return over and over has helped me extend more self-kindness.

If meditation centers make you nervous still, apps like Meditation Studio offer beautiful live streams.

There are pros and cons to both solo and group practice, but as a beginner I recommend trying both to see what energizes your commitment.

What advice would help a beginner stick with a daily meditation routine

As someone who has tried and failed to make meditation a habit many times over many years before it finally clicked this attempt, I have two main pieces of hard-won advice:

1. Always sit down for practice, even if your mind screams not to some days. Skipping is often when longer breaks happen, and momentum gets lost. So show up with self-compassion, even if just for a few minutes.

2. Let go of any perfectionism or seriousness – lighten up! Remind yourself regularly that meditation is supposed to be relaxing and replenishing. If it ever stops feeling that way, take a break.

Basically be easy on yourself, focus on consistency first, and keep your curiosity alive about what arises during practice. The rest smoothly follows in due time if you gently tend to those foundations.

Conclusion on Meditation Ideas for Beginners

Starting and sustaining a meditation routine has profoundly deepened my sense of peace and presence after just one month of regular, compassionate practice as a novice.

I hope these tips help shorten your own beginner phase by learning from my many trial-and-error lessons! Remember progress unfolds slowly but powerfully.

The most important thing is to simply begin following your breath where you are. Let the rest unfold from there.

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