The Ultimate Guide To Meditation

All the tips you need to bring zen into your life.

By: Lexy Parsons

When your stress levels are high, and your thoughts are racing, there may be a simple tool you can call upon any time, anywhere — meditation. We get it, this practice may sound like the furthest thing from simple if you’re new to meditation — but we’re here to help! If the idea of sitting with your thoughts sounds unbearable, you’re not alone — in fact, this feeling is completely normal! Even the most seasoned meditators have days where quieting the mind seems like an impossible feat. The first step is simply getting started with a meditation practice.

Building A Meditation Practice 

Well, easier said than done, right? Where do you even begin? Needless to say, there are many elements to consider when starting a meditation practice. That’s why we’ve created a step by step guide to make getting started with a meditation practice easier than ever!

Are you ready to quiet your mind? Here’s everything you need to know about meditation. 

The Benefits of Meditation

Reduce Stress  

Let’s face it. Stress isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. If we can’t avoid it, why not learn how to better manage it? Luckily, one of the biggest benefits of starting a meditation practice is stress reduction. With over 200 studies confirming its stress-reducing benefits in a single review, we’re convinced. Research suggests mindfulness meditation can reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, helping to promote a feeling of calm. So, the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, you may want to meditate on it!

Manage Anxiety 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults — that’s 3.1% of the entire population! If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you know the crippling effect it can have on even the simplest of tasks. Research suggests a daily meditation practice can help reduce feelings of anxiety — even a single mindfulness-based meditation has been shown to have benefits! 

Improve Sleep 

Do you ever feel like your mind gets a second wind before bed? As soon as your head hits the pillow, the off switch is nowhere to be found. Good news — starting a meditation practice may help. Meditation can shift your body into a parasympathetic state, the rest and digest mode. This can prime the body for sleep by reducing heart rate, slowing the breath, and quieting the mind. What’s more? Research suggests meditation increases the concentration of melatonin, the sleep hormone. 

RELATED: FitOn’s Ultimate Guide to Sleep 

Boost Concentration and Focus 

We all have those days where we just can’t seem to get anything done. When concentration is nowhere to be found, and your attention feels scattered, meditation may help (faster than you think!) A recent study found just two weeks of mindfulness meditation improved cognitive function and memory while reducing a wandering mind. It doesn’t need to be a long meditation, either! Research suggests a short 10-minute meditation can improve attention, even in inexperienced meditators — an encouraging tip when you’re first getting started with meditation!

Increase Self Esteem

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap — we’ve all been there. If you find yourself questioning your self-worth and feeling bad about yourself, starting a meditation practice may help promote more positive self-awareness. Meditation helps to reframe our mindset, helping to eliminate negative feelings by turning them into positive ones. 

A recent study observed the effects of mindfulness meditation on brain activity, reporting increased self-esteem, improved positive self-focused thoughts, and a decrease in negative self-focused rumination. 

A Step By Step Guide on Starting a Meditation Practice

Create a Meditation Space 

Start by creating a meditation space. When you’re first getting started with meditation, external factors can easily divert attention away from your breath and focus. Try to minimize any distractions — your mind is already busy enough! 

Here are some tips to create your zen:

Find Any Feel-Good Space: This can be an entire room or a tiny corner! It doesn’t need to be extravagant, just an area where you feel calm. 

Choose a Brightly Lit Area: If possible, somewhere with natural light or a view of nature!

Keep The Noise to a Minimum: The quieter the better! If a noisy, high-traffic area is the only spot you’ve got, consider investing in headphones — they will be your best friend. 

Set The Mood: If you have the time and the resources, try diffusing lavender or playing calming music — this will send a signal to your brain that it’s time to relax. 

Find A Comfortable Seat 

The best way to approach your meditation practice is to start in a seated position. This can be on a pillow, a chair, a couch, or even the floor! The important thing here is to make sure you’re comfortable. No need for fancy cushions when you’re first getting started with meditation, but you may want to give your sit-bones a little support! After all, this practice is meant to reduce pain, not increase it! Once you find a comfortable seat, relax your shoulders, sit upright, and rest your hands on your legs. 

Start Small 

This is a marathon, not a sprint! When you’re first starting a meditation practice, start small. Commit to five minutes a day — even on the busiest of days, we all have five minutes to spare! The goal is to continue showing up to your seat each day — make this practice realistic and sustainable. As you get more comfortable with your meditation practice, increase the time! 

Focus on Your Breath

When you’re first getting started with meditation, focusing on your breath is one of the best tools to quiet your mind. Close your eyes, and begin to shift your focus inward. Start to slow down your breathing by taking a deep inhale through your nose and a slow exhale out. Continue this pattern, noticing your belly rise and fall with every breath. 

Counting the number of inhales and exhales may help to quiet your mind and guide your focus. 

Make It A Habit 

Getting started with meditation can feel uncomfortable at first, but continue showing up. The more you practice, the better you will feel! One of the best ways to make meditation a daily habit is to dedicate a specific time to your practice. Whether you meditate first thing in the morning or as a part of your nightly routine is up to you, but keeping it consistent will help you stay accountable! 

Try a Free FitOn Meditation 

Don’t know where to start? Meditate with FitOn! Following a guided meditation can make starting a meditation practice feel much more approachable. With a library full of free meditations, there’s something for everyone!  

FitOn Trainer Amanda Gilbert’s Tips on Starting a Meditation Practice 

Amanda Gilbert shared some tips on getting started with meditation. She said, start small and add your meditation in either before or after something you are already doing each day. Like your FitOn workouts! Tacking on a 5-10 minute meditation before or after your exercise routine will help you effortlessly start to build a daily habit of meditation. 

Finding The Best Type of Meditation For You 

When you’re first getting started with meditation, try experimenting with different techniques and times of the day. Find what works best for you! One of the best things about meditation is there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Here are some things to consider:

Start Your Day With a Morning Meditation

Meditate first thing in the morning. A morning practice can help you set the tone for the day — you may even find your mind is less distracted! Try a Morning Mindfulness meditation to center your thoughts.  

Fit Meditation Into Your Daily Routine

Hit the reset button on your day with a short meditation. If you find yourself feeling tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, press pause on the outside world and turn your attention inward. All you need is 5 minutes — try FitOn’s Get Calm Now

Deepen Your Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep? You may benefit from a bedtime meditation! Drift off to sleep with FitOn’s Goodnight Meditation

A Life-Long Practice 

There you have it. A step by step guide to building a meditation practice! Whether you’re just getting started with meditation or you’re a meditation expert, come back to this guide any time you feel stuck or need inspiration. 

Remember, meditation is a lifelong practice! Some days may feel more difficult than others — your mind may wander, and you may find yourself wanting to be anywhere else, but continue showing up through the struggles. Practice doesn’t mean perfect! The important thing is to stay consistent — all of the mind-body benefits are waiting for you!

Start Your Own Meditation Practice Today 

Now that you have all the tools you need, starting a meditation practice is simple! Are you ready to bring some zen into your life? Signing up for FitOn is free and comes with an entire meditation category! Gain access to a variety of meditations and workouts from expert trainers.