HOW TO MEDITATE

How to Meditate As a Beginner

By Tergar Meditation Community Team • 5 min read

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Have you heard about the benefits of meditation and would like to give it a try, but aren’t sure how to begin? We’ve got you covered! It’s easier than you might think. As renowned meditation teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche says, meditation, for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike, is all about awareness, which is already with you all the time.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS MEDITATION?

Most people are mistaken about what mindfulness meditation is. They assume you have to empty your mind of thought, or force yourself to feel peaceful and calm. So the usual reaction is, “Maybe someone can do that, but for me, it’s impossible!” But actually, that is a big misunderstanding.

What mindfulness meditation is really about is awareness of whatever may be happening at any moment. That means anything at all, from the sensation of your stomach rumbling with hunger to the sound of a plane passing by overhead. You don’t have to try to change anything about the experience — even if what you’re aware of is that you feel bored or sleepy! As long as you have awareness, and gently return to it whenever you drift off into distraction, you are meditating.

It helps to have some support — something you can keep returning the attention to during the meditation session. Often referred to as an “object of awareness,” this can be anything you perceive with the senses, or even thoughts and emotions. For now, we’ll try it using the breath. Once you see how it works, you can begin to meditate with any other “object” in the same way.

How to get started?

Begin the meditation session by taking a stable and comfortable posture, which imparts a sense of dignified, uplifted ease. The simplest way is just sit upright in a chair, or cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Let your spine be loosely straight, and let your hands rest lightly on top of your legs or in your lap.

Now ask yourself, am I breathing right now? If the answer is yes, good! If the answer is no, also good! Believe it or not, just knowing the answer means you experienced awareness — the essence of meditation. You became aware of your breath in that moment — and since meditation is fundamentally about awareness– you were doing breathing meditation. Congratulations!

“When you transform your mind, everything you experience is transformed.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

JUST COME BACK WHEN THE MIND WANDERS OFF

Even though it is so simple, you’ll quickly discover that you can’t stay aware of your breathing for long. In fact, after just two or three breaths, you’re likely to forget about your breathing and wander off into thoughts, memories, plans, self-evaluation, and so on.

When this happens, it’s okay! It’s totally normal. In fact, it’s unavoidable! So what to do? Nothing needs to be done. As soon as you notice, “Oh yeah! I’m supposed to be aware that I’m breathing,” you have already come back to awareness.

PRACTICE SHORT TIMES, MANY TIMES

The idea is not to struggle to see how long you can stay in awareness, but rather to simply keep returning to the awareness of breathing. You can remember this with the phrase “short times, many times.” For the duration of the session, just allow yourself to come back like this again and again. It will look something like this: aware, forget, aware, forget, aware.

ALL ABOUT AWARENESS

When you find yourself struggling to keep your mind on your breathing, remember that the breath is just a support to remind you that you have awareness. Be confident that as long as you are present with whatever you’re experiencing — even if it seems to be nothing but confusion — that itself is meditation, and so you are doing just fine. If you continue meditating in this way, over time you will find that your mind is naturally becoming more calm, fresh, and vibrant.

MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEGINNERS

  1. Keep your spine loosely straight and let your body relax. If you find that you can’t relax, just allow that you can’t relax — that in itself is to be relaxed!
  2. Notice that you are breathing and simply continue to be aware that you are breathing. You don’t need to focus on any particular sensation, just know that you are breathing. You can allow other thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go freely — as long as you remember that you are breathing, your meditation is doing fine.
  3. It’s normal to quickly get lost in thoughts, memories, plans, and so on. But as soon as you notice that you were distracted, you are already back in awareness! Now gently return your attention to your breath. LLet this process continue again and again, over and over, with short intervals of awareness repeated many times — aware, forget, aware, forget, aware, forget — for the duration of your session. Every time you notice that you were distracted, you’re strengthening your meditation muscles.
  4. Practice short sessions regularly. Doing five to ten minutes each day is a great way to start; you can experiment with increasing the length of the sessions as your confidence develops.

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More Resources

Meditation Is Easier Than You Think

Watch a video of Mingyur Rinpoche to get started.

Guided Meditation On Breath

Listen to 10 minute guided meditation on breath by Tergar Instructor Myoshin Kelley

Intro to Meditation

Free course for beginners.

Do you want to try meditation, but don’t know how to start? This free course is specially designed for beginners, and takes only a week to complete.

About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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