Mindfulness-based meditation practice for beginners

Wondering how to start meditating? For beginners, there are plenty of courses and classes that are designed to teach basic practices and theories. Many, but not all, of these will present mindfulness of breath as their main meditation for beginners. But while mindfulness of the breath is a core meditation practice, it’s certainly not the only one out there.

When you start exploring the subject, you’ll discover that meditation comes a variety of other flavors as well, including mindfulness of physical sensations, chanting, contemplation, mantra practice, walking meditation, awareness practice and the like. Introductory classes can help get you going.

What’s the common denominator that connects these flavors? Presence. Meditation practice is about learning to be aware of what’s going on in the present moment and to maintain that awareness regardless of the mind’s tendency to wander. The mind is naturally creative; one expression of this is its ability to latch on to errant thoughts that easily give rise to daydreaming and distractions, and run with them. Through our practice we learn that we can be aware of these distractions and remain present nonetheless. We can choose to not run with them, but sit with them for a time.

A host of benefits are associated with meditation, assuming you can find a technique that inspires you to practice regularly. Some methods are bound to be a better fit than others. You might say that the best meditation for beginners is the one that feels like home. Through regular practice, this meditation will naturally build your ability to remain present and aware.

Meditation classes for the social distancing era

In “normal” times, you could plug “mindfulness meditation classes near me” into your search engine and bingo! you’d immediately have a choice of venues, reviews and websites to peruse. Indeed, free meditation classes and beginners’ mindfulness courses have often been offered in community spaces, places of worship, Ys and the like. But at the time of writing, Covid-19 has people looking for online alternatives to group mindfulness meditation classes.

Here again you have a choice, but it doesn’t have to be “either/or;” it can be “both/and.” There are two broad categories of online meditation: group practices at specific times, and recorded meditations that you can follow at your convenience. In the second category, guided mindfulness meditations for beginners are popular because they take the guesswork out of practice and can be used anytime and anywhere you’re able to settle quietly for a few minutes, from the home to the workplace to a corner of the garden.

On the other hand, joining an active community that hold regular online sessions can provide you with a sense of camaraderie that inspires and sustains a regular practice. And sometimes the presence of fellow meditators and guides is a real advantage, especially if you’ve got questions about meditation or just want to compare notes.

What should you be looking for?

All virtual meditation classes are not created equal. Before setting off on your quest for a basic online meditation course, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few preliminary questions. Why am I interested in meditation? What do I hope to get out of it? How much time can I expect to set aside every day or week for the study and practice of meditation?

Next, familiarize yourself with the different forms of meditation that are on offer. While some of the more esoteric variations are best practiced under the direct guidance of a highly qualified teacher, with valid instructions many kinds of meditation are quite manageable for beginners and quickly lead to positive results once a regular practice has been established. Nothing prevents you from trying more than one kind and seeing which one seems like a good fit.

If you’re interested in seeing how far meditation can take you, we strongly suggest that you look for a structured class that goes deeper as each level is assimilated. We developed our Mindworks Journey program with exactly this in mind. It’s designed to give you a very solid basis for discovering more about meditation and the mind at each level. It centers on two core meditation practices: mindfulness and awareness. You choose how much time you’re able to devote to the guided practice plus the supplementary readings and Mind Talks, and move forward along the nine levels at your own rhythm.