If you've been wanting to learn about meditation, now is a fantastic time. It's hard and scary out there, and there's nothing wrong with feeling anxious, unproductive, or sad. In fact, it's a normal and human reaction to what's going on right now. But so is the desire for accessible ways to feel just a little bit better, and for some, meditation can provide just that.
However, it can also be a little bit intimidating to get started — even if, in reality, you don't need much. All you really need is yourself, knowledge of a few beginner's techniques, and possibly a computer or phone if you'd like to play some calming music or guided meditations. It's time to rethink what meditation looks like. You don't need to achieve perfection at the first go-around (or ever!), you don't need to wear certain clothes, and you certainly don't need to be seated in front of some old guy who calls himself a guru. You just need to want to get started and to find something that works for you. We put together a list of meditation techniques for beginners, because we could all use some peace right now.
Tapping is based on acupressure and psychology. "Indian Ayurveda for thousands of years talks about Marma points are vital areas in the body that when the right type of pressure is applied, it releases the body of toxins and allow for new cell growth," says Vibay Chandran Weisbecker, a Mindbody holistic wellness and mindfulness expert and trained yoga teacher. The first step of tapping asks you to concentrate on a negative emotion, whether it's a fear, worry, or problem that's been weighing on you. Don't worry, this is the worst part! Then, while holding that emotion, you use your fingertips to tap five to seven times on nine specific meridian points of the body. Proponents of tapping say that it helps calm the nervous system and provides feelings of relief and safety. Even the comforting pattern of your hands against your body can take the sting off uncomfortable thoughts.
While Weisbecker says tapping is often done with the guidance an experienced therapist, you can also get started by checking out an app such as The Tapping Solution to explore if this method is best for you.
2. Sound Meditation
If you want to meditate, sometimes all you have to do is turn on your speakers. "Rather than there being a complicated step-by-step list of instructions for sound meditation, the instruction would simply be to allow oneself to absorb into the music as best as possible," says Seth Misterka of Dynasty Electrik (which hosts sound baths both online and in person) during which attendees are engulfed in sound that emanates from crystal singing bowls, combined with ambient sounds, chimes, nature sounds, and vocals. However, you can do a sound meditation all on your own.
While Dynasty Electrik provides Spotify meditation playlists, Misterka says you can also pick your own music. This isn't a time to relive your teenage angst, however; you should pick something soothing, relaxing, and probably without vocals, which can be distracting. "Concentrate on music which feels uplifting to create a more harmonious state of mind," Misterka says. "As we develop that inner sense of healing we become more cognizant of dissonance and we can harmonize it with positive sound, with positive thoughts."
3. Guided Meditations
Using an app to help you through a guided meditation is also a great way to get started (some of our favorite meditation apps can be found here). Even yoga teachers applaud the benefits of trying out guided meditation this way. "Pretty much everything we knew and took for granted about our lives changed overnight very recently," says Sarah Neufeld, co-founder of Modo Yoga NYC. "It’s a time of huge emotional upheaval for many of us."
She says that her current favorite guided meditation is "Accepting Emotional Discomfort” by Julien Lacaille, available on InsightTimer. "This meditation is simple enough for the absolute beginner, using simple mindfulness techniques to examine our particular emotional landscape at that moment," says Neufeld.
4. Body Scanning
A great body scan meditation can feel like going to the spa. Do you know how you can physically feel emotional pain, grief, and stress in your body? Body scanning helps to tackle just that. Lie down somewhere comfortable, such as on a yoga mat or rug. Close your eyes. Take a few minutes of deep breathing to get settled.
When you're ready, concentrate all your energy onto your feet and toes. Visualize any areas of discomfort. Then breathe deep into your feet, blowing away the pain, acknowledging your hurt. Then move up to your legs, butt, arms, back, and all the way through the top of your head. "Sometimes it can be challenging to sit with yourself, but the only way out is through, so start small, set a two-minute timer and build up. Ideally, you give yourself 15 to 20 mins a day," says Emily Schmookler, a master trainer at CorePower Yoga.
5. Loving-Kindness Meditation
We could all use loving-kindness, also known as Metta meditation, right now. Loving-kindness meditation is rooted in curating compassion. We sit and conjure not only loving-kindness for ourselves, but for our friends and family, and even the entire world. As Headspace explains, compassion for others begins with self-compassion. "It’s a great way to boost joy and love for self and others, as well as practice forgiveness and healing," Schmookler says.
Try a loving-kindness meditation by writing out a compassionate mantra for yourself, for example, "May I be happy and free." Sit in a comfortable meditation position with your eyes closed and say that mantra out loud. Then direct it towards someone you care about. Visualize them and change the pronoun to reflect them, such as "May they be happy and free." Finally, share compassion for the world by saying, "May all beings be happy and free." You can make your mantras as long, short, or as with many lines as you please.
6. Triangle Meditation
We often imagine meditation as a calm mind, filled only with tranquil ocean sounds. While that sounds nice, it's an unrealistic goal for most. Instead of reaching for something idealistic, you can use counting and breath patterns to achieve relaxation benefits. According to Rev. Rucifer, a Reiki master teacher and founder of Reiki Bondage, one of the simplest meditations she teaches is called triangle meditation.
"Visualize four counts of breath up the side of the triangle to the top, pause, four counts of breath down the side of the triangle on the exhale, followed by four counts to complete the triangle when all air is released from the lungs," Rucifer says. Continue the visualization for as long as feels good for you.
7. Walking Meditation
According to metaphysical coach and Reiki teacher Maggie May Wilson, meditation is "the act of becoming familiar with our thoughts and feelings to enhance the quality of our human experience." That sounds like something we could all benefit from in the time of stay-at-home orders. Next time you go for a social distancing walk, turn it into a walking meditation. Meditation is rooted in mindfulness, which means being fully present in the moment. Sometimes when we take a stroll our minds wander to stress and fears. A walking meditation asks you to focus on all five senses and your surroundings. Feel your foot slowly meet the ground. Hear the bristle of leaves. Become aware of the speed of your breath. "Walking is the best way to ground yourself if you are feeling heavy about something," Wilson says.
Think of walking meditation as using light physical exercise to shake off nasty thoughts. "The body becomes addicted to the emotions of judgment, anger, and fear because the more we think those thoughts the more stress hormones we produce," Wilson tells Allure. Movement can help keep our minds present and meditative rather than stuck on worries. "Have fun with it though; listen to music that will literally make you dance," she advises. "Chance is literally nobody's watching."
Read more stories about mental health:
- Pets Help Ease Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety, and the Science Proves It
- 11 Tips From Therapists on Coping With Anxiety During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic
- Your Guide to Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Now, watch Lili Reinhart try nine things she's never done before:
Originally Appeared on Allure