Meditation: How To Start and How Long You Should Practice It

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Meditation is an approach to train the mind, similar to the way that fitness is a practice to train the body.  Most of the time, our minds are wandering – about the future, dwelling on the past, worrying about an existing issue, or have feelings of regrets, resentment, or hatred.  Meditation brings us back to the present moment and helps us to be less stressed, more tranquil, and kinder to ourselves and others.

There are many benefits to meditating and it should be integrated into our lives, no matter how busy our lives may be. In fact, the busier you are, the more stress is present in your life and the more you’ll need to meditate. I am a strong believer of meditation and have been practicing it every morning for more than a decade.

Meditation helps us in managing anxiety, reduces stress, and releases pent-up negative emotions. Anyone can practice meditation – it’s simple and free and doesn’t require membership or special equipment.  Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your sanity, calm and inner peace.  It can be done wherever you are – whether you’re out for your daily walk, driving, waiting at the doctor’s office, or even in the middle of a difficult situation.

Types of meditation

Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.  There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All these share the same goal of achieving inner peace. 

Here are the nine popular types of meditation practices:

  1. Mindfulness meditation
  2. Spiritual meditation
  3. Focused meditation
  4. Movement meditation
  5. Mantra meditation
  6. Transcendental meditation
  7. Progressive relaxation
  8. Loving-kindness meditation
  9. Visualization meditation

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone as each type requires different techniques and mindsets.  Choose one practice that you feel comfortable with and feel motivated to practice regularly.

My favourite kind of meditation is walking / movement meditation and I squeeze out 30 to 40 minutes of my time each day to do it. In walking meditation, the body and mind are in sync while we’re out and about.  We are mindfully walking using a meditative technique, with eyes wide open, a pace that suits us, and our attention on whichever environment we find ourselves in.  This meditative walk is perfectly suited for people who live a busy life; it can be done anywhere and at whatever pace you like. If the ‘seated with eyes closed’ kind of meditation is not for you, a walking meditation is a great alternative that still trains the mind in awareness.

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Tips For Beginners

For beginners, meditation may seem daunting and you may even have a shadow of a doubt that it is even effective.  Here are ten must-know meditation tips for beginners.

1  Start small

If you’re a newbie, it can help to choose a short time, such as three to five minutes or less.

2  Find time

Choose a time when your mind is calm, such as early in the morning when it’s still dark outside or at night before you retire to bed.

3  Mindful breathing

Mindful breathing is a very basic yet powerful mindfulness meditation practice. The idea is simply to focus your attention on your breathing—to its natural rhythm and flow and the way it feels on each inhale and exhale. Start with a few deep breaths to calm the body. Regulating your breath will help your mind and body to relax. Deep breathing is a form of meditation, a practice that researchers say dates back several thousand years.

4  Focused attention

Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation. When you focus your attention, you free your mind from the many distractions and troubles that cause stress, worry, and depression.  Focus your attention instead on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.

5  Don’t be attached

Your mind will most likely wander and it will quickly get caught up in other tasks. Allow them to pass by. Do not attach yourself to the thoughts. Acknowledge them and allow them to pass by, then focus on your breathing.

6  Repeat a mantra

You can create your own mantra, whether it’s religious or secular.  

7  Engage in prayer

Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most religions. Blend meditation and prayer together in order to deepen your quiet time with God.

8  Building your meditation skills

Don’t be too critical of your meditation skills, which may only exacerbate your stress. Meditation takes practice.

9  Take a couple of moments to wind down and clear your mind.

Jumping right into meditation after an argument with your loved one may not be best. Give yourself 5 minutes to wind down and clear your mind of all the negative thoughts before you start to meditate.

10  Commit yourself

Try to really commit yourself to this for at least a month. Be disciplined. You’ll be amazed to see the benefits that come with meditation and soon you’ll find that this is an integral part of your life that you wouldn’t want to miss in your day.

Meditation isn’t a panacea but it can certainly provide the much-needed space and calm in your life.  Don’t we all need this in order to make better choices for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health.  It is free and flexible. It doesn’t have to be formal. It can be done anywhere and whenever you have a few minutes to spare each day to improve your quality of life. Give it a try today!

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Health Freak Mommy
Author: Health Freak Mommy

A health freak mom to 3 teenage girls. Blogger since April 2007.