Firsts are freaky, but they don’t have to be. In Her Campus’ series My First Time, we’re answering the burning questions you might be uncomfortable asking about IRL. In this article, we tackle meditating for the first time.
I first tried meditating in middle school, and I failed miserably. I looked up a guided meditation on YouTube, sat down (criss-cross-applesauce) on my cheap foam yoga mat, and attempted to sit still and focus on my breath for 10 minutes. All this to say, I lasted a mere five minutes before switching the YouTube video to Dance Moms.
However, in college, I became more and more interested in mediation. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I wanted to find something to incorporate into my routine to keep me grounded. And after many failed attempts, I finally got the hang of meditating. Let me tell you, it was quite the journey.
The fact of the matter is learning how to meditate is tougher than you think. Getting in touch with your inner self is more than just sitting down and closing your eyes. With that in mind, I spoke to Linette Bixby, a mindfulness educator, and Paige Creamer, owner of Moonbaby Wellness Studio, to learn exactly how to meditate for the first time. Skip the awkward YouTube videos.
Basically, all you need is yourself.
When I first started meditating, I thought I needed some kind of big, giant, altar-esque setup. Perhaps some fancy pillows and overpriced aromatherapy candles. Maybe a canopy. The truth? “The beauty of meditation is you don’t need anything to begin a practice,” Bixby tells Her Campus. “Simply find a place where you can be quiet for a few minutes and preferably where there are few outside distractions. It doesn’t need to be completely silent, just free of interruptions.”
However, if you want to really up your meditation game, you can introduce pre-existing parts of your routine to your meditation practice. “All you need to meditate for the first time is a quiet place and one to three minutes,” Creamer says. “But, some other things that can be helpful are, if you have a phone, and you can play some binaural beats or some Mantra music for the background. Or, if you have a journal, you can take some time to write and reflect afterward.”
So, according to the experts, it doesn’t take much to begin your meditation journey. Get comfortable, get settled, and get ready to let go.
Believe it or not, there’s no “right” way to meditate.
Good news! Meditation is all about what works for you. So if you’re intimidated by meditating, or if you’re scared to “do it wrong,” leave those negative thoughts at the door, bestie.
“Frequently, beginners think they have to sit a certain way on a cushion with palms up and fingers touching. That is not the case,” Bixby says. She also adds that you can meditate anywhere: on your morning commute, afternoon walk, in the shower, on your lunch break, or even as you doze off at night.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right,” Bixby says. “There is no right way and there is no wrong way.”
Creamer also stresses the importance of making meditation your own, and letting go of the notion that meditating is too hard or not “for you.”
“Try to think of meditating as becoming aware of your thoughts. Just observing them,” Creamer says. “Let go of the idea that it has to look or be a certain way, or take a certain amount of time. Meditation is going to look different for everybody. There are so many ways to meditate that you can’t do it wrong.”
Some of Creamer’s favorite ways to meditate are guided meditations, breathwork, or moving meditations like yoga classes.
“Consistency is is key, and that’s cliche but that’s true,” she says. “To build a relationship with your being rather than your thinking takes time. Just stick with it and try not to get frustrated, or let intrusive thoughts take you out of the start of a really awesome journey.”
Think of meditation as a way to “cleanse” your mind.
According to Creamer, it’s best to think of meditation as a shower. It sounds a little goofy, but it honestly makes a lot of sense.
“’The best times to meditate are at bedtime — to kind of wash the day away — or when you wake up in the morning — to set yourself up as a part of your getting ready. Or both,” Creamer says. “Maybe you have a whole lot going on and you need to just wash it away. If you only have 10 minutes at 3 p.m., then that’s your time to meditate.”
Bixby also suggests finding the right time in your day to cleanse your mind. “I often recommend first thing in the morning or right before bed or both,” she says. “Meditation in the morning supports a calm start to the day. Meditation in the evening can calm the mind and help to have a better night’s sleep. But, It’s really up to you to know when you might have a few minutes when you can really settle in.”
Here’s a guided meditation for beginners:
Once you’ve decided to take the leap into meditation, then it’s time to begin. Here’s an easy, step-by-step meditation from Bixby to try for your first time:
Sit or lie down in a comfy space. Soften the eyebrows, have your jaw slightly open, and allow your eyes to close or have a soft gaze looking downward.
Take 2-3 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Drop your shoulders, and shift or adjust if you need to.
Feel the contact points of your body on the surface beneath you: your back, bottom, legs, and feet. Notice if you feel any body sensations like heat, coolness, or tension.
When you’re ready, bring your attention to your breath — the natural flow of your breath.
On the in-breath, silently repeat “slowing.” On the out-breath, silently repeat “down.” Do this with each breath and see if you can slow your breath down just a bit, continuing to repeat “slowing” and “down.”
If your mind wanders, that’s normal. Just go back to your breath and repeat the words.
At the end of your timer, take one more deep breath. Notice what you are more aware of at the end than at the beginning. Journal if you can.
Move into the next part of your day!
A final reminder: your spiritual and mental wellness is about you and you only. Meditation is a way to connect with your soul, and lift yourself to a higher mental well-being. So, take some time to put your mind first, unwind, and begin your meditation journey. Namaste, besties!
Follow Linette and Paige on social media to learn more about their wellness services.