A Meditation Manual for Beginners

Meditation has received a fair bit of attention over the past few years in a variety of cultures, especially within the mental health and self-improvement fields. It’s worth exploring why this is the case for a society and gain an understanding of what it is and how it can be applied. We’ll explore some common questions about meditation in this article and provide a beginner’s framework for implementing it into daily life. Let’s get started!

What is Meditation? 

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a particular technique to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm and stable state. An example of a technique includes mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity – essentially, these are non-ordinary thoughts that work cognitive muscles and allows one to perceive their physical, emotional, or introspective experience in a new way. The emphasis of meditation is to clear one’s mind and allow the person to be still, without having thoughts racing through one’s head. Meditation isn’t about changing as a person, rather, it’s about giving one’s self permission to adjust thoughts and harness a clearer awareness and perspective. This can help us to have a greater understanding of our thoughts, perspectives and opinions. Meditation is a skill that, like most others, can be practiced and improved over time. Think of it like exercising a muscle that you have never worked out before. It takes time to strengthen, but eventually, it will become like second nature. During this process, some days will be easier than others. Your mind will wander and it may feel like a daunting task. At the end of the day, consistency is key and practicing meditation regularly will eventually lead to greater awareness, perspective and mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be present, to live in the here and now, completely engaged with what we are doing and who we are at one point in time. As the word mindfulness suggests, our minds are often full. They can fill with thoughts, memories, emotions, etc. and they can feel right, wrong, clear, or confusing. These thoughts can bring us fear or anxiety, as well as joy and fulfillment. The first part in mindfulness is recognizing this. The second part is to make an effort to be aware of where we are, what we’re doing and engaging in this in its entirety. Furthermore, the goal is to not become overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. We do not want to be judgemental about our thoughts of ourselves or others. Simply immerse yourself in what it is that you are doing; this is the key idea to mindfulness. Bringing awareness of these concepts to your experience and grounding our existence to the here and now helps us cultivate a sense of mindfulness. All human beings have the capacity to be mindful, we just need to learn how to access it. This is where meditation practice comes into play.

Why Would Someone Meditate? 

There are many reasons why someone would and should meditate. As previously mentioned, to achieve mindfulness is the major concept behind meditation, but here are some of the other benefits according to research (Heger, 2020; Link & Thorpe, 2020): 

  • Can decrease blood pressure
  • Helps manage anxiety and depression
  • Reduces stress
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Lengthens attention span
  • Helps control pain
  • May reduce age-related memory loss
  • Can generate kindness
  • May help to fight addictions
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps control pain
  • Enhances performance
  • Helps to gain insight

Is Meditation Religious? 

Meditation has played a role in various religions, all of which having a different view on the practice. It is an integral part of Buddhism for example (Goderez, 2020). Many religions maintain some sort of mindfulness prayer in individual or group settings. Meditation can be a spiritual practice, in that it allows for us to find our true meaning. All the while, mediation can be whatever you want it to be, from a way to clear and strengthen the mind, to a religious or spiritual act. 

What Can We Learn From Meditation?

One thing we can learn from meditation is that we are not perfect. We are all trying to figure out how to live our best lives and become the best versions of ourselves. Meditation can help us to reflect upon this and realize where it is we can improve our lives. Meditation can also be humbling, teaching us that the world is much bigger than us as an individual. This concept may seem harsh, but often people can find solace in the beauty of the expansive nature of our planetary existence. We are all unique and beautiful beings, but we are not the only being(s) having a conscious experience. We share this earth and we do not operate as individual agents disconnected from other humans, animals, plants, etc. These types of concepts, easily silenced through contemporary societal messaging and values, often regain clarity in our minds through meditation. 

3 Step Guide to Meditation 

Here’s a simple, yet effective method to begin meditating on your own:

  1. Sit upright with your eyes closed. It doesn’t have to be on the floor with your legs crossed. You can do this anywhere that you feel comfortable such as your favourite chair, couch or even your bed. Find what works best for you.
  2. Breathe in and then breathe out. Repeat. Pick a spot such as your nose, mouth, throat or chest and focus on the sensation taking place. While you do this, you might notice that your brain will start to think about anything and everything other than your breath. That is fine. Simply redirect your attention back to your breath and start over. Keep repeating this process of redirecting your attention to your breath. Every time you do that, you’re retraining your brain to center your focus on your object of attention. The more you have to recenter, the more strengthening you’re facilitating.
  3. Do this every day for 5 to 10 minutes. You will notice significant change over time. 

10 Tips for Meditating

  • Start small. Start your practice by meditation for a short period of time, such as 2 to 5 minutes. Over time, aim to increase this number as your meditation practice becomes easier. 
  • Do it first thing each morning. It’s easy to say you’ll meditate but forget to as the day goes on. Make it a priority and do it when you rise each day instead of checking your phone.
  • Don’t get caught up in the how, just do. Most people worry too much about the minor details such as where to sit, how to sit and when to do it. Don’t worry about these details and instead do the work of meditating.
  • Check in with how you’re feeling. Just before your meditation session, do a quick check on how you’re feeling. Then check to see how you feel afterwards. You may be surprised by the results. 
  • Count your breaths. If you’re struggling to keep focus, try counting your breaths as you do your practice. This can help keep you focused for longer periods of time. 
  • Develop a loving attitude. The average human has over 50,000 thoughts a day, there are bound to be some that we don’t want to have (Barok, 2017). When you notice these types of thoughts during meditation, have a positive and friendly attitude towards them. See them as friends, not enemies or intruders.
  • Don’t worry that you’re doing it wrong. You may feel like you aren’t meditating properly. This is normal. Simply practicing meditation will lead you to become better and that’s what counts.
  • Don’t worry about keeping a clear mind. You will have other thoughts while meditating, it’s inevitable. Just bring yourself back whenever this occurs and keep on going.
  • Become friends with yourself. As you begin to practice, you will start to learn more about yourself. While this is happening, keep a friendly attitude. Smile and give yourself the love you deserve. 
  • Smile when it’s done. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself and that you stuck with your commitment. You’re awesome. 

That’s it. It’s really that simple. What are you waiting for? Get meditating today. 


Barok, S. (2017, September 02). Did you know…you have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day… Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/shahilla-barok/did-you-knowyou-have-betw_b_11819532.html

Goderez, B. I. (2020, March 19). Making sense of meditation: Religion and spirituality. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/making-sense-meditation-religion-and-spirituality

Heger, E. (2020, June 22). 7 benefits of meditation, and how it can affect your brain. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.insider.com/benefits-of-meditation

Link, R. & Thorpe, M. (2020, October 27). 12 benefits of meditation. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#The-bottom-line

This article was written by Riley Bunce, Jr. Producer at Mindleap.

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