How to Start Meditating
Fuming after a fight with your sister or frustrated about being stuck in gridlock traffic? Guided meditation and other mindfulness practices can be a comforting handhold for when life gets stressful, hectic, or plain unpleasant. The exercises help you slow down, relax, and focus being present to help ease an overwhelmed or anxious mind—and you can do them whenever, wherever. Find out how mindfulness can benefit you and learn how to incorporate mindful meditation into your life.
15-Minute Guided Meditation
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of tuning into your senses and how you feel in the moment without labeling or judging those emotions and feelings. Simply put, it’s about being fully present.
You may have already experienced moments of mindfulness—perhaps when out to dinner with friends, when you took the time to intentionally slow down and savor each bite of pasta, appreciating the buttered aroma and perfectly al dente texture. Or you may have felt it on a walk where you were able to let go of stress about an upcoming work deadline and instead focus on the now: the refreshing breeze against your skin, the soft squish of your sneakers against the pavement.
Once you learn how to practice mindfulness, you’ll realize that the opportunities to put it into action are everywhere. And here’s why you’ll want to: The mind and body benefits of mindfulness include reduced anxiety, improved memory, sharpened attention, improved immunity, and even boosted cardiovascular health.
If you’re new to mindfulness, meditations like the ones included this seven-part series (available to all our members) are a good place to start, and they pair perfectly with the rest of your P.volve practice. Just like our functional movement-based Method strengthens the muscles used in everyday activities so that you can move more freely, research shows that mindfulness practices actually change the structure of the brain to help you feel less stressed and think more clearly.
The Basics of Meditation
One great way to practice mindfulness is with meditation. But calming your mind can be difficult at first. “Most of us spend our time keeping the mind busy, entertained, or distracted,” says mindfulness expert Jessica Li Phillips. “Meditation techniques help you become more curious about what your mind is actually doing as you settle down and get a little calmer and quieter.”
There are multiple different ways to meditate. Find one that works for you with P.volve’s seven-part Meditation & Mindfulness series or follow these steps to get started.
- Set a timer for how long you want to meditate. It could be two minutes or 20—any amount is beneficial. If you’re new to meditation, start with just a few minutes.
- Find a calm, quiet place. You could sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor or even lie down—whatever feels most comfortable to you.
- Close your eyes or lower your gaze to the ground in front of you and focus on your breath, following it as you inhale and exhale.
- If your mind wanders, don’t let that stop you. Instead, acknowledge the thought, then return your attention to your breath. “Meditation isn’t about completely quieting the mind or getting rid of thoughts, but instead of becoming aware of what our minds are actually doing,” says Phillips.
- Continue until your timer goes off. Then, gently open your eyes.
That’s it—you meditated! How do you feel? What thoughts and emotions surfaced during your meditation, and were you able to help return your focus to your breathing? Don’t stress if this practice was difficult or if you couldn’t stop the loud chatter in your mind. Like with anything, meditation takes practice. And starting with guided sessions can be make the process easier!
Body Scan Meditation in Mindfulness Practices
You have days where you feel like the act of living itself just causes tension in the body, but, well, it’s kind of true. Your excitement, stress, or concentration could cause tightness between your brows, in your upper shoulders, or along your lower back, for example.
Body scan meditation is a foundational meditative practice that allows you to identify any physical tension throughout your body. “It can be a wonderful tool for guiding your awareness to your body, noticing where tension is being held and softening it without trying to fix it,” says Phillips. “It invites you to have a gentler, kinder, moment-to-moment relationship with your body.”
To try a body scan meditation, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back with eyes closed, legs extended, and arms at your sides.
- As you breathe in and out, bring your focus to each part of your body, starting from your toes and moving up toward your head.
- As you zero in on each body part, pay attention to the sensations—pain, warmth, tension, relaxation, etc.
- If you notice an unpleasant sensation, you can breathe into it. Imagine your breath helping to loosen and release that tightness.
Keep in mind that you’re not trying to change or solve for these sensations but rather bring awareness to them. And when combined with the P.volve Method, body scan meditation can help further sharpen your mind-body connection. Taking the time to regularly scan from head to toe can help you become more in tune with your body, allowing you to I.D. aches or injuries before they become problematic.
What to Do When Your Mind Wanders During Meditation
You’re mid-meditation when you find yourself thinking about what to cook for dinner or worrying about a medical bill. Totally normal (your mind doesn’t have an “off” switch, after all!).
A wandering mind isn’t a sign that you’ve ruined your mindfulness session. “Don’t think of this as a hindrance to your meditation,” says Phillips, explaining that you can get yourself back on track with a method called mental noting. “When you notice that you have drifted into dreaming, thinking, or worrying, simply note, ‘ah, thinking’ and then guide your awareness back to the meditation with care and intention,” she says.
The key is to label the distraction or disruptive thought without analyzing or judging it (or, ahem, yourself), and then—poof!—let it go. This will help prevent you from ruminating on the thought for too long. You can also use this same method if the sound of a honking car interrupts your meditation (you may think something like “hearing” or “loud”) or you’re distracted by the scratchy tag of your tee-shirt (think “feeling” or “itch”).
Whether you opt for mindfulness meditation, body scan meditation, or another form of meditation, it’s a win for your body and mind. The benefits of meditation include:
- Better stress management
- Increased self-awareness
- Reduced negative emotions
- Lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Improved quality of sleep
An added advantage: Meditation could help you get more out of your P.volve sessions. By nurturing your mind and body through meditation, you may find that you feel more present during your P.volve workouts too. The result: A stronger, calmer, more focused you that’s ready to take on whatever the day throws your way.
Not a member yet? Start your free trial for access to our library of on-demand classes and start working out with us today.