A Simple Meditation Technique for Beginners

 Do you meditate?  It has become widely accepted that meditation is a great way to reduce stress, improve focus and restore internal balance.  I know that lots of people would like to be able to meditate, but find it hard to begin.  Our minds wander, we get fidgety, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

In this age of digital-everything, it’s just harder because our brains act differently now.  We spend less time staring into space, watching clouds go by, slowing down, and just being present.  I have a simple meditation technique for beginners that I think will be really helpful for you.  It has helped me get back into a meditation practice recently, as I had gotten a bit rusty, too.  I find that using visualization really helps me.A Simple Meditation Technique for Beginners

A Simple Meditation Technique for Beginners

1. Find a quiet place, and lie down on your back.  With your feet on the floor, bend your knees and let them lean in together comfortably.

2. Set a timer for the amount of time that you will meditate.  I recommend starting with just 2 minutes at first, then increasing as you become more comfortable and your ability to focus grows.  I usually do 10 minute sessions, and am working up to 15– but it’s not a race.  Take your time, and just choose what seems the most doable for you.

3. Place your hands on your belly, relax your body, and listen to your breath.  Don’t do anything to try to control your breath– simply observe.

4.  Now, bring in some visualization.  As you exhale, picture an ocean wave breaking on the sand.  As you inhale, see it rolling back into the sea.  With every inhale and exhale, watch the waves go in and out– the sound of your breath is the soundtrack to these waves going in and out, and will set the pace.

5.  If your mind wanders, bring yourself back to the sound of your breathing and the images of the waves.  Again, do not try to change your breathing in any way– simply match the motion of the waves to the sound of your breath.

IMG_7615You may find that the shapes of the waves change throughout your meditation session.  I often begin with more powerful waves crashing on the beach (breathing harder) and end with something more like the waves of a lake barely lapping the shore, as my breathing calms and I become more relaxed.  This is not a goal, just something to observe.

When I feel like I’m struggling to stay with the exercise, I take a moment to picture the beach— the color of the sand, whether there are any plants or trees on it, what the sun and clouds look like, and how the sun would feel on my skin.  I hear the waves again as I breathe, and am drawn back into them.

To take things a step further, you can use this visualization to incorporate the thoughts that come to mind and to let them go.  When I think of something negative, I allow it to transform in my mind’s eye into something for a wave to spit up onto the shore– getting rid of it.  For whatever reason, I often find myself leaving old worn out hiking boots and rusty tin cans on the sand as I seek to expel a burden that comes to mind.  A pain in my neck may turn up as a piece of old rebar, and the pain eases as I let it go.

Likewise, when I think of a desire or hope or positive thought crosses my mind, I give it an image, something for the wave to sweep up from the sand as it retreats into the vast sea.  When I give these thoughts an image and an action, it’s a way to acknowledge them, acknowledge whether I want them in my life or not, and move on.

Another way to use the waves and breath for meditation is to imagine yourself as a piece of seaweed or a leaf, riding the waves— both going in and out with your breath.  Seeing myself moving with the flow helps me to further relax my whole body as I imagine the sensations of “going with the flow” as I listen to my breath.  It is deeply relaxing.

Feel free to experiment with what works for your visualizations, making the exercise your own.  When your timer goes off, take your time, and don’t stand up too quickly.  See if you can add another minute to your next session.

IMG_6542I have a couple other resources for you.

Do you meditate?  What has been most helpful for you in getting started and continuing your practice?A Simple Meditation Technique for Beginners  And Here We Are...

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38 Responses to A Simple Meditation Technique for Beginners

  1. Laurel May 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I used to try to meditate, but I fall asleep so easily. The hardest part is emptying your mind. I used to visualize a white wall, and once or twice it actually became a very cool mind-blowing experience to be so “empty”. Never seem to find the time now. I’m intrigued by the possibilities though, of causing certain effects on the body. There were some tapes I listened to where you’d imagine a bright white light entering through the top of your head, and radiating out to the rest of your body, and actually felt warmth on the top of my head. Wow, the power of the mind!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Hi Laurel! Yes– there are so many cool experiences to be had with meditation. I was guided through quite a few different types when I was in school for massage therapy. One really memorable one was redirecting bloodflow to my freezing cold hands– they became so warm! I love to lay in the hammock and take in the deep yellow color of the tree blossoms above me, and imagine my body being that color– it’s so energizing.

      I hope this might be helpful for you as you get back into a meditation practice.

  2. Karen @ Journey towards simplicity May 9, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    One suggestion – especially for beginners- is try not focus on the idea or goal of clearing the mind but rather letting thoughts pass through it like clouds passing in the sky. If you notice you are holding onto a thought/cloud- acknowledge it and let it go—even if it eventually comes back into your mind- just repeat…letting go. Like clouds passing in the sky or leaves falling and floating down a stream :)

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      Yes, great advice!

    • Raena March 19, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

      Hi. How do you tell a thought to let go? By ignoring it and finding a more peaceful state? I don’t know what it means to tell your thought(s) to let go, sounds hard, please explain?

      • steven harnack July 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

        Simply refocus on your meditational image. When another thought intrudes refocus, repeat as needed

    • Rebecca December 20, 2015 at 5:26 am #

      I really like that I just realized what visualization I can use. Thanks already. I’ve tried to meditate before, but I could never keep my mind from racing, worrying about this and that, but I think now I have a better idea about what it’s supposed to do, that I just might get it. Again thanks.

  3. Jessica @ConveyAwareness May 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I usually start with some deep breathing exercises this helps me still my mind because I’m focused on the breath. Once I get to a place of relaxation (after a few deep breaths) I’m at peace. Great tips here!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks, Jessica!

  4. Inna May 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Beautiful. Thank You. I just tried it and feel very peaceful. Love the waves.

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      Hi Inna– so glad you tried it and enjoyed the experience!

  5. Lauren May 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Yes! Meditation is essential for me now to find some sort of balance. I like guided meditations on youtube but also love the idea of visualization and waves.

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      I have yet to try any meditations from youtube, but that’s a great resource! I have done some taped ones, but I sometimes got distracted by the hokey (sp?) voices. :)

  6. ruthalmon May 16, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks for this. The connection of the breath with waves is beautiful.

    On another note, this reminds me of something and I can’t help laughing. And outspoken friend said years ago that guided meditations are very individual. Whenever someone tells her to imagine the beach, all she can visualise is seagulls making a racket. Note to self: meditate without seagulls!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Oh, that’s really funny! I can see how that would be very distracting! :)

  7. http://www.commonbreathingproblems.com May 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    Great post. I consider myself as a beginner at meditation so this is really helpful to me. When I try to relax I also picture that I’m at a beach watching the waves and it really soothes me, I thought that it was just me who does that but apparently it is relaxing for everyone. I have a breathing problem, meditation does help me cope with it especially when I’m starting to get anxious or angry and I really can’t afford to be in those situations because it will lead to an irregular breathing pattern. I’m definitely following these steps here and incorporate it to what I’m already doing. Thanks a lot!

    Sam Walker

  8. kendra30752 August 11, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    Oh, this was very useful! Thank you for sharing your own techniques to help us get an idea to start with. I wound up in a whole session myself after reading your beach technique. 😉 Really brought back the moments when I used to get into it deeply without distractions. Thank you so much for this. I needed it more than I could ever say. 😉 Beautiful post and the ideas are so useful! I can see myself coming back to these in tough times.

    • ariana September 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      So glad this was helpful for you, and thank you for stopping by to let me know!

  9. Andrew Couch August 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Interesting. When I first read this, (skimmed with the Internet brain) I somehow saw myself as the breach with the waves coming up to the beach on the inhale and retreating on the exhale. I like your idea of spitting out the bad things onto the beach though, so I’ll have to switch next time I try.

    • ariana September 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Yes, I think it makes a difference to *be* the waves. Sometimes I allow myself to be a leaf floating in the waves, feeling the motions as the waves go in and out…

  10. Janet Fazio October 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Starting small is great advice. A lot of people give up when they start with 15 minutes a day. It’s kind of like running. You wouldn’t sign up for a marathon without training for it first.

    • ariana May 13, 2015 at 8:21 am #

      Exactly, Janet!

  11. MyScotia January 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    I’m brand new to practicing meditation, but the more I read, the more it seems to be very much like self hypnosis. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, and it seemed so much easier to quiet my mind in preparation back then. :-) I became quite good at visualizing pain disolving and heat spreading (when cold). My calm/happy place in the beginning of this was imagining an ocean in which I was lying down and floating on an inflatable raft of sorts, and allowing the waves to gently rock me.

    • ariana May 13, 2015 at 8:21 am #

      That sounds perfect! And yes, visualizing pain dissolving and heat spreading is so powerful. As a bodyworker, I guide my clients through this process in our sessions. Good for you.

  12. Casey January 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    For me, using guided meditations on Youtube really help. I am getting better at incorporating a practice into my morning routine. I’ve tried binaural beats and meditative music. But for me, the guided meditations really work because you can just focus on the voice. Affirmative affirmations are extremely beneficial, too!

    • ariana May 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      I have tried some on Headspace, and it was nice!

  13. Kelsey May 7, 2015 at 1:48 am #

    Wow. this is actually so helpful.
    This is the first time I have read about Meditation and felt like I actually ‘got’ it – I have been trying/thinking/failing at meditation for a while now and some advise seems so whimsical and (lets just say it) wacky and impractical that I think people be trippin’.
    And i love that you’ve said I can start at 2 minutes, i think i have tried to go to gung hoe initially (thinking I’ll get 30 minutes done in my first session). Spoiler Alert: It has never worked!
    Thanks Ariana.

    • ariana May 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

      So glad you had a breakthrough with this technique, Kelsey! And YES to the 2-minute thing for beginners. Only a little at a time, since those long stretches are like trying to run a marathon when you’ve only recently developed an interest in jogging. :)

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know how this went for you!

  14. Sunee May 17, 2015 at 2:59 am #

    Yes, i do meditate from 2 months, but nthng helps my anxiety and stress to come dowm, i cnt concentrate for more than a minute :(

  15. jennifer robinson May 24, 2015 at 4:05 am #

    Great blog! As a yoga & meditation teacher/ wellness coach I applaud your technique & tips! I especially love your visualization about the ocean waves 😀

  16. Jan October 13, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Something that helped me was finding a short clip on “O” about touching your index finger and thumb and concentrate on your heart beat where your fingers touch. This helped me to focus and I find my mind has a safe place to come back to. Will try the wave technique because it sounds like something that will work for me.


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