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Practicing Meditation for the First Time? Here's Your Guide

Your First Time Meditation
The benefits of meditation are so well-known that even Western doctors are recommending it for stress relief - but you can't get those benefits if you can't get into the meditation. This practice exercise will help you slip into the groove.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
If you've never meditated before, it can be frustrating starting from nothing. You've heard all about the amazing benefits and the luxurious sense of relaxation that come from regular meditation, but you're sitting cross-legged in the middle of the living room wondering when all the magic starts. Are you missing something?

Well, yes. Like anything else worthwhile, meditation takes practice. Someone who has been meditating regularly for decades may be able to slip directly into a trance with little preparation, but that's the result of self-training. As a beginner, it is unlikely that you'll experience the super-deep relaxation states or any profound enlightenment. You may not even feel any special benefit from the process until you have a few sessions under your belt. But keep at it, because the good will come and few habits are as generally beneficial as regular meditation.
Set the Scene
Meditation room
Meditation room
Find a space in which to meditate. It should be private, quiet, a comfortable temperature, and a space where you can remain undisturbed until you are finished. Prepare a place to sit - some people are able to meditate while reclining on a couch or a comfy chair, but you don't want to be so comfortable that you fall asleep. For a beginner, cross-legged on the floor is usually the best option. Sit on a cushion if the floor is too uncomfortable, and spread out a blanket or towel if the floor is distractingly cold. Dim the lights, and eliminate any glare that's bright enough to see through your closed eyelids. You may play music if you like - it should be instrumental, because lyrics are distracting, and it should be quiet. Nature sounds or white noise are ideal.
Prepare Yourself
Woman stretching legs
Take a moment to loosen up and make yourself comfortable. Remember, the goal here is to relax. Loosen your clothing, remove your shoes, and have a good stretch. Roll your shoulders several times in each direction, bend over at the hips and hang, circle your arms, and lean your head from side to side. Do your best to relieve any muscle tension that might keep you from achieving relaxation. Make a conscious effort to relax your facial muscles - imagine your face sliding off your skull. You want everything to be loose, loose, loose.
Dive In
Woman doing meditation
Sit down in the space you've prepared, and get comfortable. Don't slouch, because that inhibits breathing, but don't force yourself into an unnaturally rigid posture either. Close your eyes and breathe. Each time you inhale, count "one". Each time you exhale, count "one". Every single breath should be counted "one" - the idea is to reinforce being in the moment - the last breath doesn't matter, the next one doesn't matter, only this one matters. Every time.

Focus on your breath. Feel it inflate your lungs and push on your diaphragm, expanding your belly. Feel how sweet it is to take in the nourishing air. As you do this, your body will gradually begin to relax and all of your attention will be centered within your mind. This is your first lesson in meditation - this is where you want your attention during your sessions, and now you know how to get there.
Come Back
Once you feel fully centered in your mind, allow yourself to gradually drift back to real life. Wiggle your fingers and toes, lick your lips, and slowly wake your body up. Open your eyes and remain there for a few minutes while your senses turn back on, then slowly stand up. You are done for today.
Even if you never made it fully into your mind, you still got some relaxation benefits out of it, you just need to practice. Consistency is key with meditation, so schedule about 10 minutes around the same time every day when you can repeat this exercise. Before too long, you'll be slipping into it much faster so you'll be able to spend more time in the relaxed state, and you'll gain even greater benefit. Happy meditating.