Tips for your first meditation session

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

Tips for your first meditation session - Tikvah Lake Recovery

Meditation can help you cultivate feelings of serenity and gratitude; it also increases self-awareness. Most people who haven’t tried meditation before think, “it’s not for them,” but that’s not the case. Anyone can meditate, and you don’t need to have prior knowledge of meditation to start.

If it’s your first time meditating, you’ll find the below tips helpful.

Make time for your session

Make time for your session -Tikvah Lake Recovery

Like any skill, meditation takes practice, but you only need a silent space and alone time to start meditating. 

Set a time for your meditation session. Mornings are better, especially if you already have a set morning routine. 

If it’s not realistic for you to meditate in the mornings, think of a time when you can be away from distractions.

Even if you can only do 5 or 10 minutes, commit to one meditation session each day.

Pick the right spot

Pick the right spot for meditation - Tikvah Lake Recovery

It’s important to be in a place where you feel safe and comfortable when meditating. Not worrying about who may come in, loud noises, or any other distractions is key to concentrating.

You should also pick a spot where your body will be still, whether you prefer to lie down or sit down. 

Your body must be in a natural position, so your posture doesn’t affect your meditation practice. You’ll be able to focus better when you are comfortable. 

If you tend to get sleepy while meditating and don’t have problems falling asleep, it may be better for you to meditate in a sitting position so you can be present. 

Try methods that work for you

Try methods that work for you - Tikvah Lake Recovery

There isn’t only one way to meditate. However, if you find it difficult to control your thoughts or focus, it might be easier to opt for guided meditation in the beginning.

There are various methods when it comes to meditating.

Mindfulness meditation: This is the most common meditation practice. Mindfulness meditation teaches your brain to witness your thoughts as they pass by. It involves deep breathing and being aware of your body. You learn to simply observe your thoughts without judging them. You can find guided mindfulness meditation on apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, or others.

Loving kindness meditation: This is one of the most powerful meditations. Loving kindness meditation practice is done by repeating three or four positive, reassuring phrases to yourself. As a beginner, you can start by directing positive mantras at yourself by repeating, “May I be loved and healthy.” After a while, you may begin to also direct it to someone you love. Then you repeat it for a stranger, and after that, for someone you dislike. Finally, repeat the mantra for all of humanity.

This meditation boosts forgiveness and empathy.

Focused meditation: This meditation is a great practice for people dealing with attention disorders and general anxiety. When practicing focused meditation, you focus on an object, sound, or sensation.

This is a great way to experiment with self-guided meditation since you don’t need guidance. For example, you can focus on a repetitive sound such as a gong or concentrate on breathing.

Movement meditation: This meditation involves some movement practices where breathing is an integral part, such as yoga, qi gong, or tai chi. It can help you unlearn traditional exercise’s often rigid and repetitive rhythm and slow down, calming your mind.

It’s also useful to connect your breath and body. Cycling and walking can also be gateways to movement meditation if you practice being fully present.

Body scan meditation: This meditation practice is about slowly becoming aware of your bodily sensations and learning to relax fully. You can lie down and just let your body tell you where there is tension or discomfort. Focus on your breathing and ease the pain or tension with each breath. You can easily learn to do a self-guided body scan meditation if you get distracted during guided meditation.

Body scan meditation promotes a better self-image and improves the connection between your mind and body. It’s also a great practice that makes falling asleep easy.

Visualization meditation: Whether you have an active imagination or struggle with creativity, visualization meditation can promote positive feelings and thoughts. This practice involves imagining vivid scenes by using your five senses to add more detail to them.

Using this technique, you can remember peaceful memories or create calming scenes in your mind. This is also a great way to defeat performance anxiety.

Lean into the routine

Make meditation a habit - Tikvah Lake Recovery

When you find a meditation practice that resonates with you, commit to it and make it a part of your routine. For example, do it before your morning coffee, after your gym session, or just before you go to bed.

Attaching your meditation practice to your existing routine tasks can help alleviate tension and feelings of overwhelm in your day.

Don’t focus too hard

Don't focus too hard on meditation - Tikvah Lake Recovery

Meditation isn’t supposed to be stressful or draining. You don’t have to be serious or rigid with it. It’s an exploration of the self and your emotions.

You can let your mind wander from time to time during meditation; your goal should be to guide yourself back to the present moment gently.

Don’t get discouraged

Meditation may at times cause discomfort. You may experience grief, anger, sadness… Tap into the feelings that arise and be an observer. Don’t let yourself be discouraged. 

Meditation is not a regressive practice, and it won’t harm you in any way. Stick with it, and you will see plenty of benefits.

The benefits of meditation for mental health

It’s not surprising that mindfulness practices such as meditation are becoming more and more popular as we realize the impact of our mental health on our overall well-being.

There are many benefits to committing to consistent meditation practice. It can be incredibly powerful in improving our mental health.

1. It reduces stress and anxiety

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety - Tikvah Lake Recovery

Stress causes cortisol levels to skyrocket and releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. It can cause mood and sleep disorders and directly affect your health. According to a study, mindfulness meditation reduces the inflammation response caused by stress.

Another study found that after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation, people with generalized anxiety disorder started experiencing fewer anxiety symptoms and improved their coping skills.

2. It boosts our focus

Meditation boosts your focus - Tikvah Lake Recovery

Meditation is like endurance training for your attention span. Our minds become more present and better at focusing.

One study published in 2018 found that even meditating for 13 minutes a day improves attention and memory over 8 weeks.

3. It helps to control impulses and fight addiction

Meditation helps to control impulses and fight addiction -Tikvah Lake Recovery

Meditation improves self-control and self-awareness. It can help people struggling with addiction understand their triggers and manage their impulses.

One study involving 60 people with alcohol use disorder found that practicing transcendental meditation helped them fight alcohol cravings and lowered their stress levels after 3 months.

At Tikvah Lake, we work with talented experts who have helped people with different types of addiction over the years. We built a recovery oasis located in the ideal natural setting in Florida so people can come to find peace within themselves, and learn the skills to maintain it.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, get in touch with one of our specialists at Tikvah Lake Recovery who can help.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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