Meditation is a funny thing. One day you can feel on top of the world after spending a few quiet moments focusing on your breath and clearing your mind... while others you find you can't sit still for more than a few seconds, stressing about everything you need to do. It feels like you're in a constant battle trying 'to do it' and quiet your mind and don't really know whether it's actually working at all in the long run.

Most people think that they're succeeding in meditation and cultivating mindfulness because they're able to achieve those moments of calm during the session, however it's the time after that determines the success of your practice. Also, there are so many styles of practices available that you can always try out a few different ones to find out which meditation practice is for you.

What is meditation and how do I do it right

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop focus, clarity, positive energy and a sense of calm in your body and mind. By engaging with a particular meditation practice, you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work to build your practice, you can acquire a deeper state of being and find profound peace. Creating a personalised meditation practice or even getting a mantra and practicing yoga alongside can have a transformative effect on your perspective of life.

Once your practice becomes regular you will notice the health, mental and emotional benefits of this daily routine you have cultivated. There are certain signs of good meditation and spiritual progress that become apparent once you have established a basic meditation process and chosen the right one for you. For beginners, simply follow these simple steps to learn how to meditate in the first place.

Meditation for beginners step by step

Start small. Seriously, five minutes a day is a great start, even 3 minutes! You’ll feel better in the long run taking those few minutes out of your day to focus on your breath – that's all there is to it. Then, when you feel more comfortable, you can add on as many minutes as you like and build your practice. 

Also, remember to take your time during those moments. It's easy to get distracted (and totally normal), but try not to think of that deadline or appointment you have to rush to right after. Make sure that these few minutes are minutes for you to breathe, stretching out after and making sure you actually take it slow rather than squeeze it in. It's not about torture!

If you need to stop because you’re just not feeling it, follow that intuition. Cultivating meditative sensitivity includes listening to your truth, especially if that truth is telling you that now is not the time. That's why you can follow these guidelines to help you create the most relaxing start for when you feel it's time to meditate:

1. Sit upright in a chair or comfortably on a cushion on the floor or lie flat on your bed or on a yoga mat.

2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, then breathe normally.

3. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.

How do I know if I'm meditating correctly​

How do I know if I'm meditating correctly

Meditation signs and symbols show themselves in all kinds of ways. If you're new to meditation, keep in mind the below signs of successful meditation, as even one of them shows you that your meditation is working despite how busy and foggy-headed you may seem during it:

1. Your body clock shows you signs when it's time to meditate.

2. You feel energized and no longer battle with insomnia.

3. You worry less about things you can't control, are less needy and are more adaptable to change.

4. You're able to see the silver lining in bad situations and live a more 'cup half full' kind of life.

5. You're more compassionate and aren't so egotistical.

6. You're more fearless and don't get down about the mistakes along the way.

7. You're more decisive, present and are less dependant on others.

8. You prioritize your self-care routine and don't mind spending time on your own.

9. You're having better sex, are more creative and feel more youthful.

10. You stop taking things so personally and are more interested in others.

11. You get sick less often and more regular bowel movements.

12. You don't require as much outside validation.

13. You no longer care about what thoughts actually come into your head when meditating and can let them wander off.

Can meditation have any negative effects?

Buddhist meditation was designed not to make us happier, but to radically change our sense of self and perception of the world. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that some will experience negative effects such as dissociation or anxiety. Opening up yourself brings on sensitivities to the surface – good and bad. Some people find that going through a personal journey like this requires extra support in the form of a Counsellor or Therapist, especially when dealing and managing mental health issues. 

Mindfulness is about gifting yourself some special 'me' time, and knowing that whatever thoughts come into your head, let them come and go. The daily practice of meditation creates a routine where your thoughts and emotions can be viewed from a different perspective and lessening the negativity around them while promoting positivity instead.

READ NEXT: Tried and tested remedies and products to help you learn to create mindfulness.

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Read the meditation progress points and rewards here to know if your mindfulness practice is working and whether you're actually reaping the benefits.

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