Note: Updated in 2018 for clarity and additional resources.
Over the past several years, meditation has come fully into the mainstream. There are suddenly tons of articles on the benefits of meditation, meditation videos all over YouTube and apps dedicated to meditating.
And yet, throughout my years of being a meditation teacher I’ve witnessed all kinds of resistance to the practice. I still do. The most common excuses for not meditating are, “I don’t have time,” “I can’t sit still,” and “Meditation is for yogis and super-spiritual people.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, I’m here to bust the myth the meditation is difficult and not for you. Meditation is for everyone! It doesn’t have to take much time or effort, and everyone can sit still. Even if it’s just for a minute. I’m on a mission to make meditation fun and accessible for everyone, so I created this beginner’s guide to meditation.
Before we go any further, let’s begin with a few definitions so you can get familiar and comfortable with the language of meditation. Sometimes the lingo can feel off-putting, but like most things you’ll pick it up quickly.
What is meditation?
First, what is meditation? Meditation is a practice that trains your mind. If that sounds a little vague, it’s because there are many types of meditation done for different purposes.
One of the most popular meditation practices in the U.S. is Transcendental Meditation, or TM for short. Transcendental Meditation is practiced twice a day for 20 minutes. During this time you sit comfortably with your eyes closed and silently repeat a mantra. A great resource on TM is the book Transcendence by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. I learned TM a few years ago and I wrote a blog post about how powerful it is.
Another popular practice in the U.S. is mindfulness meditation, which is based on stillness and calming the mind. Mindfulness meditation often involves sitting comfortably and paying attention to your breath, your physical sensations and your environment. When your mind wanders, you gently bring it back to the present.
I teach Kundalini meditation. This type of meditation uses mantras, breath work, mudras (hand positions) and even physical movements. All the meditations in my book Miracles Now are Kundalini practices. But even before I became a student of Kundalini yoga and meditation, I designed my own stillness practice based on different tools I’d learned throughout my life.
I love guided meditations because they’re very easy to follow. During a guided meditation, a meditation teacher guides you (in person or via audio or video) through a meditation practice. Guided meditations are great for both beginners and long-term meditators!
I created a free 4-track meditation album that you can download instantly. All you have to do is press play, listen and follow my guidance!
What are mantras?
Another term that comes up a lot when talking about meditation is mantra, which I mentioned above. What is a mantra?
Simply put, a mantra is a word or sound that you repeat throughout a meditation to help focus the mind. Mantra comes from Sanskrit. Man is the root of the word for “mind,” and tra is the root of the word for “instrument.” Mantras help us disconnect from that stream of thoughts constantly flowing (sometimes rushing) through our minds. Keep in mind that not all forms of meditation use mantras.
My all-time favorite mantra is part of a powerful Kundalini meditation that I like to call the Miracle Meditation. It’s otherwise known as the meditation to expand into intuitive knowing. You can find my guidance on it here.
The benefits of meditation
The benefits of meditation include decreased stress and anxiety, increased mental clarity, better sleep and so much more. I’ve meditated every day for nearly 15 years. I owe my happiness, health and awesome life to this one simple tool! Through my meditation I have learned how to boost my immune system, release my fears and heighten my intuition. My daily meditation practice has given me an internal power that supports all that I bring forth in the world.
This is a big promise. And I know it might even sound intimidating. But even if you’ve never meditated a day in your life, or if everything you’ve tried so far has left you feeling frustrated, I want you to know something. Meditation is a practice for everyone. That includes you.
You too can experience this groovy power, intuition and connection by following the simple meditation steps outlined below. Remember that we call meditation a “practice” because that’s exactly what it is. It is a habit. You do it to feel good. To get grounded. To calm and clear your mind and energize your body. You can begin experiencing the benefits of meditation right away. And over time they will grow greater and greater.
To help you demystify your meditation practice, I’ve created a beginner’s guide of 10 tips. These tips will help you start your own meditation practice, stick to it, love it and experience awesome benefits.
Gabby’s Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
1. Anyone can meditate. You’ve just gotta want it!
Like any practice, you have to want to do it in order to achieve results. It can be hard to start a meditation practice because it seems so foreign from what we’re taught to do.
But I have good news: Meditating is much simpler than we make it out to be. Beginning a meditation practice requires only your slight willingness. Your desire to experience something new is all you need to get on a new path.
Let’s set the intention to begin your practice now. Affirm this statement out loud to yourself: I am open to meditation and I welcome a new practice into my life.
This simple statement will give you all the energy and enthusiasm you need to continue reading this guide and beginning your practice. It’s very important to accept that anyone can meditate as long as they want to.
2. Create a meditation space.
It’s great to create a space in your home that is quiet, uncluttered and serene. This space can be dedicated to your practice. But if space is tight or you travel a lot, no worries! You really can meditate anywhere. You can meditate on a park bench, at your desk, in the bathtub and even on the subway. Meditation can become a part of your daily routine and you can do it anytime, anywhere.
However, if you can, create a sacred space to meditate in. You can keep the space minimalist or fill it with items that inspire you, like tapestries or rugs, crystals, a yoga mat, a small fountain, beautiful art, mala beads, plants or a card deck.
3. You DO have time to meditate.
You have a minute to spare, right? One minute a day spent in stillness can change your life. Commit to one minute a day and use this practice to silence your mind and calm your energy.
The One-Minute Breath meditation
For one minute, follow this breathing technique:
Breathe in for 5 seconds
Hold your breath for 5 seconds
Release for 5 seconds
Hold for 5 seconds
Practice this breath pattern for one minute a day.
Here’s another great meditation that you can do in one minute or less every day!
4. Meditate by finding peace in your pulse.
Meditation can be as simple as finding your pulse. This foolproof tool from my book Miracles Now is very easy for meditation newbies. I call it Peace Is in Your Pulse because it improves your concentration and brings calm to even the most scattered mind.
Peace Is in Your Pulse meditation
- Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor.
- Lightly close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows (the third-eye point).
- The mantra is Sat Nam (which means “truth identified”).
- The hand position (called a mudra) is simple. Place the four fingers of your right hand on your left wrist and feel your pulse. The fingers are in a straight line, lightly pressed on the wrist so you can feel your pulse in each fingertip.
- On each beat of your pulse, mentally hear the sound of Sat Nam.
This meditation can be done any time, anywhere and you can experience great benefits in just one minute. Practice it daily to develop your intuition and calm your mind.
For more guidance on this meditation, watch this video:
5. Practice the “Peace begins with me” Kundalini meditation.
This technique is an awesome, easy Kundalini meditation that’s fast and effective. You can do it anywhere.
Gently press your thumb against your index finger, then your middle finger, then your ring finger, then your pinkie finger.
When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE
When you touch your middle finger, say: BEGINS
When you touch your ring finger, say: WITH
When you touch your pinkie finger, say: ME
Breathe deeply as you say each word. Go as slow or as fast as you’d like. Use this technique while you’re standing in a long line, do it under the desk in a work meeting or even in the middle of a fight with a partner or friend.
This technique will get you through all kinds of crazy emotions and help you release resentment fast.
If you want video guidance and would like to try out more Kundalini meditation, you can check out my Miracles Now meditation videos. You can go even further with my Kundalini digital course, Turn On Your Inner Light.
6. Meditate on the train.
Do you take a train or bus to work? Instead of scrolling through your phone, use that time to get centered. Here are two easy ways to get started meditating on public transportation!
Mantra for your commute
During your commute it’s helpful to repeat a mantra to yourself as you inhale and exhale.
Breathe in: I love life
Breathe out: I am supported
Or on your way to work you may want to meditate on this mantra:
Breathe in: I love my job
Breathe out: My job loves me
Reciting a mantra while you connect to your breath can be a very powerful meditation practice.
7. Make cooking a meditation practice.
If you enjoy cooking or baking, turn it into a meditative practice. When you’re in the kitchen you can detach from your day and get creative, even if you’re just whipping up spaghetti! The next time you feel stressed out after a long day of work, cook a delicious meal.
The key is to be deliberate. When you walk into the kitchen, set up everything you need. Play relaxing or energizing music. Take your focus off your to-do list and onto serving your soul. Enjoy the process and then enjoy the meal!
If you aren’t into cooking, you can turn other activities into meditative practices. You can achieve an awesome, meditative state of “flow” by dedicating some time to a favorite hobby like painting or knitting, or even while cleaning! When you bring in mindfulness and do these activities deliberately and with joy, they can become meditative experiences.
8. Meditate while you walk.
You can find a meditative moment even when you’re walking. Walking is actually a great time to meditate because it keeps us from rushing and allows us to slow down, calm down and get grounded. Try this simple meditation practice the next time you’re running errands, stretching your legs on your lunch break or even grocery shopping. Slow down just a bit and make your walk meditative.
- Take a deep breath with every step.
- Feel the soles of your feet and focus on being more grounded with each step
- Use a mantra while you walk. With each step recite this mantra: “I am, calm now.”
Whenever you’re stressed, you disconnect from your body and your power. Get more grounded and connected with a walking meditation. You’ll actually enjoy your walk and feel much better when you arrive at your destination.
You can also listen to this guided walking meditation.
9. Find your Zen with meditation apps
Many people blame technology for their stress, lack of connection and anxiety. Tech overload keeps us up at night, often literally.
But there’s a new trend happening. Instead of being a source of anxiety or FOMO, our phones are becoming tools for stress relief. The growing trend is that people are turning to these channels for guided meditations, positive affirmations, empowering content and stress relief tools!
Check out a few of my favorite meditative apps below, and click here for a longer list of my favorite spiritual apps.
My Favorite Meditation Apps
Start your day with a meditative moment through my Spirit Junkie App. The idea is simple but powerful. Each morning when your phone alarm rings, check your daily affirmation. While you’re still cozy in bed, clear your mind and meditate for a few minutes on the message, allowing it to sink in and soak your soul. Then start your day with a positive, confident attitude. The app is now available for both iPhone and Android!
As a meditation junkie I’m a huge fan of Headspace. I love this app because it makes meditation very easy for folks who are new to the practice. The app contains easy tools to help you focus more, sleep better and experience more Zen. I recommend this app to anyone who’s new to meditation or just feeling stressed out.
This awesome app is really cool for starting a meditation practice. It uses an ancient meditation technique known as Trataka, which involves fixing your internal or external gaze on a point of attention. The app lets you focus on a moving ball or the “Om” mantra to get into a breathing pattern and calm your mind. You’ll be feeling super relaxed in just 10 minutes. (Also available for iPhone.)
10. Get grounded after meditating
When you end your meditation it’s important to ground yourself. You may want to stomp your feet on the ground. Have a snack or drink some tea. Do something that gets you back into your body before going back to your daily routine.
Why it’s important to rest after meditating
In Transcendental Meditation it is suggested that you rest for two minutes after your meditation practice. This rest period helps you reorganize your energy and get back into your body. If you quickly jump out of your meditation and start checking email or posting on Instagram you may feel very shaky. Moving too quickly out of a meditation can even give you a headache or make you feel anxious. Take a few minutes to sit in a relaxed manner or lie down and rest. Let your body recalibrate.
Finish your meditation with a positive intention
It’s also helpful to set an intention for the rest of your day once you finish your practice. Seal the deal with a positive intention like this one: I choose to carry this peace with me for the rest of the day. Set yourself up to win with a silent prayer after your meditation.
It’s okay to feel awkward when you first start meditating!
When you first start your meditation practice, you may feel awkward or even uncomfortable. That’s totally normal! You don’t have to be an instant expert to benefit from meditation. You can expect thoughts to pop up throughout your meditation. Instead of getting frustrated, try to let them pass. We are human and this is just how our minds work.
If you meditate with a mantra, gently return to it whenever you catch your mind wandering. In mindfulness meditation, teachers often say to detach from those thoughts by seeing them as clouds floating in and out of your mind. The more you practice meditation — even if it’s just for a minute or two each day — the better you’ll become. But it’s not a contest or a competition. Like I said earlier, meditation is a practice.
There are all kinds of ways to meditate and lots of tools to help you create a meditation practice that’s right for you. If one doesn’t quite click, try another. Let yourself adjust to this new habit and make it your own. Just remember: Anyone can meditate as long as they want to. That includes you.
Next steps for meditation beginners
Need a way to release anxiety fast? Try the technique of alternate nostril breathing.
Calm your mind and balance your mood with the Kundalini meditation known as Kirtan Kriya.
Can’t stop judging yourself or someone else? Release that judgment by practicing Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as tapping).
Deepen your spiritual connecting by free-writing in a journal after you meditate.
Get a new guided meditation every month!
Want fresh guided meditations every month? Check out my Miracle Membership! You’ll get a new guided meditation from me each month so you can try different styles of meditation and stay consistent on your spiritual path. There’s a lot more to the Membership. Click here to check it out!