How many minutes does meditation take?

Meditation for Beginners: 12 Tips to Get You Started

What is meditation

Meditation means pausing and giving your own experiences, thoughts and feelings space to unfold. In meditative exercises you learn to calm down, to perceive yourself and your needs and to deal with problems successfully and gently. Meditation is an important part of various religions and philosophies of life such as Buddhism, Hinduism or the increasingly emerging mindfulness movement. It is often experienced as a mind-expanding and spiritual experience. Modern medicine also makes use of meditation and its effect on people in very different contexts.

With this multitude of different currents and meditation variants, beginners in particular quickly lose track of things. But don't let that stop you. In this text you will find background knowledge and twelve tips for a successful entry into the world of meditation.

What types of meditation exercises are there?

You can meditate both while sitting and while moving. Some exercises will help you pay attention and focus on a specific thing. In these exercises you collect yourself, that is, you calm down and relax. In exercises for insight you try to fathom your own mind and to make yourself specifically aware of emotional and thought processes. Here you can recapitulate experiences from your everyday life and master difficult situations better in the future. There are also surrender exercises where you recite the same words, movements, or thoughts over and over again. [1]

12 tips for a successful start in meditation

Tip 1: the right exercise

Everyone is different and so you too have to find a suitable way that makes your entry into the world of meditation as easy as possible. It is best to try several types of meditation exercises and then choose the exercise that you feel most comfortable with yourself. If you find it difficult to sit still for a long period of time, you can also combine movement and meditation in one exercise. For example, in yoga you will find many exercises that combine physical exercises and mindfulness from the outset. If you don't have any problems sitting still, a collection exercise in which you focus on your breathing may be the best way to get started. Or you recite a mantra over and over again, or the same words or phrases to focus your mind on the meditation. [2]

Tip 2: the right place to meditate

So that you can concentrate on your meditation practice, you should find a place where you will not be easily disturbed. Make sure you have a calm atmosphere in which you feel comfortable. Warm light, a pleasant temperature, a subtle but cozy interior or the right meditation music can be important basic requirements for successful meditation.

Tip 3: a comfortable sitting position

When you think of meditators, you likely think of people sitting in the lotus position. In this sitting position, the legs are crossed and the feet rest on the thighs of the other leg. However, the lotus position can feel extremely uncomfortable, especially for beginners. Rather choose a comfortable sitting position where you can really relax. In no case should you feel pain while meditating. Especially for people who have not mastered the lotus position, a meditation cushion can help you sit upright but comfortably and concentrate on your meditation exercises.

Tip 4: Switch off your mobile phone before the exercise

So that you can concentrate properly, you should make sure that all electronic devices that you do not need for your exercise are switched off. Even a cell phone in silent mode is a seduction and distraction that you should better avoid. As a premium user, offline mode is available to you in the sonamedic app. This allows you to meditate in peace without being distracted by notifications. [3]

Tip 5: the right time to meditate

In order to slowly settle into meditation, it is important that you set a point in time four to five times a week from the beginning, when you can reliably schedule time for your exercises. Because only if you integrate meditation meaningfully into your everyday life, the necessary continuity is given, which is necessary for meditation. It takes about three months to really internalize a new behavior. Until we become a master of one behavior, about 10,000 hours of practice. It is therefore important that you do not let the meditation slide, but pay attention to regularity. [4]

Tip 6: music or silence?

You don't have to meditate in absolute silence. Especially at the beginning, meditation music or a relaxing background noise can help you concentrate and get involved in an exercise. The right music calms our mind, but it also has, for example, a blood pressure lowering effect on our body. [5] In a guided meditation, you will find a clue in the narrator's voice to hold onto so your thoughts don't wander. sonamedic offers you a wide range of mindfulness and relaxation exercises with different focuses. But you can also find a large selection of music and guided meditations on YouTube or Spotify to help you get started.

Tip 7: do not overtax yourself

You have to get used to meditating first. In the beginning, you shouldn't force yourself to sit still for an entire hour. Small intervals of ten to twenty minutes are sufficient to get started and prevent frustration. Only when you have slowly familiarized yourself with meditation can you gradually expand the time spans.

Tip 8: correct breathing

Correct breathing is an important part of successful meditation. Hasty, shallow breaths increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in your lungs, because when you breathe in this way you do not fully exhale the stale air. This, of course, means stress. It's best to try to breathe in and out slowly through your nose. You can also count mentally with your breaths. For many people, abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is the most comfortable. We use this breathing mode automatically when we are relaxed. The best way to practice abdominal breathing is to lie down and place both hands on your stomach at about navel level. Now breathe in and out deeply, paying attention to the counterpressure of your hands. This type of breathing has a calming effect on you and helps you calm down. [6]

Tip 9: give space to thoughts

In meditating, whether you like it or not, your mind will wander. Don't try to ignore them, embrace them and include them in your mediation. You can also focus on a specific topic during an awareness exercise.

Tip 10: help with meditation

It can be very helpful, especially for beginners, to seek professional help while meditating. An experienced person who is at your side if you have any questions or problems and accompanies you in the first few weeks can make it easier for you to get started. The exchange with like-minded people also has an invigorating effect on the meditation process. It may be worthwhile for you to take an eight-week MBSR course. MBSR stands for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and is a stress reduction program developed by John Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s, in which various mindfulness and meditation exercises are combined. Many meditation centers regularly offer MBSR courses. Just give it a try. [7]

Tip 11: Meditation - Not a means for self-optimization

Many people who start meditation see it as a means of self-optimization. If you consider mediation as self-optimization, you are only replacing the stress from your everyday life with the stress of achieving quick success through your meditation exercises. Meditation is not a means of becoming more productive from one day to the next or of getting your emotions completely under control. The goal of mediation should be to give yourself time and relieve pressure. In no case should you try to force results. [8th]

Rather, it is not the result that matters, but the path that we take. Meditation will not make you a completely new person, even after years of meditating. Perhaps you will only achieve minor successes after a year of practice and you will be able to be more careful with yourself and your emotions or to recharge your batteries. [9]

Tip 12: Don't get discouraged - meditation can be uncomfortable

When you learn to pause and listen to yourself, all of your problems, worries, and hardships will begin to storm you. Stress, anger, fear and grief, which you may have suppressed for a long time, can be heard again in the relaxation and meditation exercises. This can be a very upsetting and uncomfortable process that has surely made many meditators to give up.

You shouldn't make the mistake of confusing the meditation exercise with the result. Meditation can be painful, but you will learn not to simply suppress your sensations, but to deal with them. In the long run, this is certainly the healthier way to go. [10]

Simple meditation exercises

Exercise 1: Breathing and Body (25 minutes)

Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable sitting position. Pay attention to your breaths, inhale and exhale slowly and feel the air fill your lungs. With each breath, you can recite words like “in” and “out” to the rhythm of your breath to help you concentrate.
After five minutes of breathing meditation, you focus your attention on your body. Slowly wander your mind from top to bottom. Feel the pressure, the warmth, the draft on your skin. This is how you can slowly relax.

Exercise 2: walking slowly (10-20 minutes)

Find a place where you can take a few steps, such as the hallway of your apartment. Slowly walk from one end of the hall to the other and back again. You can recite something to the rhythm of the movement, for example by saying “yes-thank you” with every step. You should continue this exercise for ten minutes or more. As you walk, you can change your pace from time to time. Walk slowly at first, then faster, then slower again, drawing your attention to your steps. [11]

Meditation and science

Until recently, much science assumed that we were prisoners of our own genetic makeup. Mind and body were also treated separately for a long time. However, new studies, especially in the field of epigenetics, indicate that our environment and also our thoughts and feelings can very well have an influence on our body. [12]

A 2014 meta-analysis of several studies showed that meditation can mitigate the negative effects of psychological stress. There are also small improvements in depression, anxiety and pain perception. [13] Another study from the same year found that meditation increases anti-inflammatory processes in the body in an epigenetic manner. You can also influence blood pressure and oxygen uptake through meditation. [14]

Scientific sources

1) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation. 2018, page 15. Online

2) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming Crises in Meditation, 2018, page 16. Online

3) Banzhaf, Harald / Schmidt, Stefan: Meditation heals. Preventing and Getting Well through Mindfulness, 2015, p. 76. Online

4) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming Crises in Meditation, 2015, page 17. Online

5) Spitzer, M. / Rath, F. / Groen, G .: Music and sensitivities. First results on the use of a sound bed in depressed patients, Ulm 2015. Online

6) FOCUS Online: Coach: Practice abdominal breathing. Date of access: 03.09.2019. On-line

7) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation, 2018: page 22f. On-line

8) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation, 2018: page 43f. On-line

9) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation, 2018: page 19f. On-line

10) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation, 2018: page 26f. On-line

11) Wetzel, Silvia: Meditate - but how? Overcoming crises in meditation, 2018: page 118. Online

12) Banzhaf, Harald / Schmidt, Stefan: Meditation heals. Preventing and Getting Well through Mindfulness, 2015, page 57. Online