How to Learn to Meditate: The Best Way for Most People

Updated October 14, 2019


Your Guide:

Brenda Umana

I’m a mindfulness specialist with a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. Since 2013, I’ve meditated approximately 40,000 minutes and my current practice is 20 minutes twice a day. I’ve supported hundreds of individuals as well as small-scale companies within the health, mindfulness, and wellness industry. This guide, based on my teaching experience and many hours of new research, identifies the most useful resources, methods, and key practices for people seeking to learn about meditation.

This guide is continually updated. Suggestions and feedback are welcome at [email protected].


Disclosure: Guidery may earn some revenue if you choose to buy something that we mention. Learn more.

Table of Contents


I. Introduction

a.The Single Best Way to Learn Meditation

The single best way for most people to learn meditation is to enroll in a ongoing in-person course taught by a vetted expert.

Since in-person training has so many variables (such as teacher ability, location, price, and length), it is not feasible for me to recommend one specific geographically bound training that will work for everyone. Instead, my recommendation is to start your meditation practice with the free Insight Timer app, which offers a free introductory course, Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days, taught by an experienced and proven teacher. Then, after you gain some experience and learn what works best for your specific situation, you can follow my advice in the How to Find Your Community section of this guide to find your ideal in-person class.

I want to make it clear that my recommendation of Insight Timer is not a sponsored recommendation. Like all Guidery recommendations, this unbiased recommendation is based on testing (see Key Research Considerations and Tested Resources) and insights gleaned from experts consulted in the field.

Throughout the guide I will also present the nuances to this recommendation, as well as other contributors to starting and maintaining a meditation practice, such as habit formation, motivation, and commitment.

As my recommended starting point, Insight Timer offers the following:

My Recommendation

Insight Timer (Free)

Meditation practice tool and community

  • Free seven-day introductory meditation course from a professional instructor
  • More than 6,000 discussion groups and local meet-ups run by users
  • Hundreds of free guided meditations available
  • A simple timer feature for meditating on your own
  • Helpful categories like stress and anxiety relief, grief, and learning to meditate

Is this sponsored?

No! We work hard to remain unbiased. Our recommendations are based on extensive research and first-hand experience, not payments, and can’t be sponsored or otherwise influenced.

Insight Timer offers more than 25,000 free guided meditations with some of the most well-known meditation teachers. You don’t need to subscribe to the Premium version to access these, but once you explore the content, you can sign up for Insight Premium for $9.99 per month or $59.99 a year to access Insight’s paid courses. These courses, compared to the free classes, offer a more streamlined way to learn how to meditate and create a lasting practice.

While meditation apps appear to be the most popular meditation learning method right now, based on recommendations from Wirecutter, Reviews.com, and CNET, they don’t always create a lasting practice or provide time for deeper understanding.

This is also one of the limitations with Insight Timer. With so many one-off meditations, a range of instructors from well-known to vague experience, and various practice lengths, you could very well try it and then forget about it because it lacks a clear path. Starting with the Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days course, you can begin to understand the “why” of meditation as well as the “how-to” in building a lasting practice, with specific techniques taught. You can then follow up by searching for an in-person class, instructor, or course based on what you learned in the seven-day course.

The word technique in this context means what you do or what your guide is telling you to do in meditation. You can think of the word meditation like the word sport. When someone says, “I love sports,” you probably ask “what kind of sport?” to get a better understanding. Technique is simply getting more specific within the broad language of meditation. You can read further about the words meditation and technique in the Common Jargon section.

Insight Timer is most effective in teaching meditation when you sign up for the courses that vary in topic, instructor, and length (between 10 and 30 days). Take a look at the 30-Day Challenge in this guide for a recommendation on courses. It is best to use the courses along with the community aspect, which includes posing questions, participating in discussion forums, and/or attending some in-person meet-ups, to support and expand your new meditation practice.

When doing research for this guide, new meditation learner Ananya Datta said that she wished she had started with an in-person course as opposed to an online solo training so that she could have felt like part of a community. Insight Timer provides the best of both of these options.

b.Top Takeaways

II.The Basics: Getting Started

a.What You Need to Get Started

You don’t need many physical items to begin a meditation practice, but you will need intangible things like interest, motivation, and commitment. I know from my early days that motivation and commitment can be the biggest hurdle for new learners. After a full day of work and the daily demands of life, it is very tempting to deprioritize meditation practice.

Datta started her meditation practice at the start of 2019. As a beginner, she struggled with creating a regular practice. In order for her to make meditation a priority, she had to shift her perspective, and she views it like the daily routine of brushing her teeth or taking a multivitamin. When seen in this way, she now knows how important it is not to skip her daily meditation because it reframes her thinking and helps her get started and stay consistent.

To help with motivation and commitment, consider purchasing either a blank journal or a tool like the My 66-Day Habit Challenge (about $8, Amazon.com), a habit tracker and goal planner. A habit tracker or journal is a simple way to measure progress and see when you’ve meditated or not. It also provides progress feedback and whether you need to make any changes along the way. Habit expert James Clear says, “Habit formation is a long race. It often takes time for the desired results to appear. And while you are waiting for the long-term rewards of your efforts to accumulate, you need a reason to stick with it in the short-term. You need some immediate feedback that shows you are on the right path. And this is where a habit tracker can help.”1James Clear, JamesClear.com, https://jamesclear.com/habit-tracker

Habit Tracker
66-Day Challenge Habit Tracker

$8+ on Amazon.com

An optional prioritization and plan-structuring tool that makes it easier to turn desired tasks into recurring healthy habits.

When tracking your meditations in either a journal or habit tracker, be descriptive about your experience so that you can see your progress over time. In the Build Your Practice section, I suggest a few helpful prompts. In brief, in this habit tracker, you want to describe your physical experience (did your shoulders feel tense, did your low back hurt, did you have a moment of peace, how did the position you sat in feel?). These details, you will learn over time, are actually tools you can use to hone your focus during your practice.

b.What to Know Before Your First Practice

It’s normal to feel confused about how to start a meditation practice. You might be wondering, what do people do when they meditate? What do people not do? Rest assured that you are not alone if you are confused when you first start learning how to meditate. Below are a few helpful guidelines before you start your first practice.

  • Don’t try to control your thoughts. You might think that when people close their eyes to meditate they are trying to achieve zero thoughts. This is nearly impossible, and as psychologist Steve Taylor, PhD points out, “It’s unlikely that [seasoned meditators] will be able to stop their thought-chatter altogether.”2Steve Taylor, “Can You Stop Thinking?,” Psychology Today, March 30, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/out-the-darkness/201503/can-you-stop-thinking It’s also not exactly the point of meditation. The mind is meant to think. Sam Harris, neuroscientist, philosopher, and meditation teacher says, “There are fundamental discoveries to be made in the laboratory of your own mind.”3Sam Harris, WakingUp.com, https://wakingup.com/ We use our practice to observe and train the mind.
  • Do go back to your meditation technique when you notice a thought. While we’re not trying to control our thoughts or have zero thoughts, we are trying to settle the mind. In other words, we are training the mind for moments of attention and/or focus. The moment you notice a thought, go back to or restart your meditation technique. Naturally, your mind might go to items on your to-do list, the vacation you’re planning, or what to eat for lunch. We think about many things—that’s totally normal. In our meditation practice, when a thought enters, we simply go back to the technique.
  • Don’t sit rigidly. While some traditions require a specific posture, when you first begin meditating, you most likely won’t be practicing that tradition. Find an upright position that feels comfortable for you. It may be cross-legged or it may be in a chair. If you feel too rigid or uncomfortable, that feeling will likely distract you and impede your ability to focus. If your hips feel uncomfortable, whether on the floor or on a chair, place a pillow or a blanket under you to elevate your hips. The only time lying down is recommended is if you’re practicing a lying down meditation, like Yoga Nidra, or if you absolutely can’t find a comfortable upright position. The reason lying down is not recommended is because your body will most likely associate it with sleep. So, with that said, find a posture that feels effortless in your body, and if you need to move a little in the middle of your practice, then adjust as needed.
  • Don’t replace your meditation efforts with the common justification of “[Running, cycling, painting, reading] is my meditation.” Sitting still and meditating is difficult. You will be tempted to replace it with other activities that seem similar to meditation. Don’t fall into this trap! When we say something like “running is my meditation,” we’re finding ways to not sit and meditate. That said, other activities do have benefits when combined with meditation. You can think of other meditation-like activities, like cross-training. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, you most likely want to train by running long distances, but you may also include strength training at the gym, sprints, and anything else that will enhance your performance as a long-distance runner. If you’re training your mind, you mostly want to spend time sitting and meditating, but you will also want to supplement those efforts with other activities that reduce your mind chatter.
  • Do ask questions. While meditation is a practice that takes place in silence, it may feel like whatever happens inside your mind needs to stay inside. That’s not the case at all. Questions will come up about physical sensations, mind experiences, and emotions. Ask your instructor, your community, or someone else you trust who has experience with meditation about what you are experiencing internally.
  • Do give yourself permission to meditate. Meditation teacher and expert James Brown suggests writing yourself a permission slip that commits you to your practice, similar to the permission slips we had in grade school.4James Brown, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019. These permission slips allowed us to attend an event, a field trip, or learn about a specific topic, which meant we could be there and take something away. Like grade school permission slips, a meditation permission slip allows us to be present, learn, and take something away. That “something” is going to be different for everyone. Founders of M Meditation, Tay and Val, suggest asking yourself “why do you want to meditate?”5Tay and Val, interview with author, September 9, 2019. When that is clear, meditation will be less of a struggle. Meditation only works if you actually do it, so give yourself permission to meditate, and sign the permission slip to commit to the practice of being present, learning, and taking something away.
  • Do expect to feel like you had no experience. You may not notice any changes after you meditate. Sometimes the mind is too active to settle down. Other times, you’ll notice you settled down immediately. And it’s all a meditation practice, meaning that just because it didn’t “feel” like anything happened, it doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. For example, a professional runner may train for speed on any given day but not actually increase their speed on that specific day. This doesn’t mean that they failed or aren’t giving their best effort. They are still en route to reaching their per-mile goal. Maybe they’ll reach it tomorrow, or the next day, or in a month. They don’t stop practicing simply because one day felt “off.” The professional athlete simply takes training experiences as feedback. Likewise, meditation isn’t about getting it right or wrong. And it is more than just “feeling good.” A good experience in meditation is meditation. A bad experience in meditation is meditation. No experience in meditation is meditation. All of those experiences are training for your mind. Why do we want to train the mind? Because without training, we have weak defenses against restless, anxious, negative thoughts and/or ruminations that hinder our everyday experiences and outlook on life.

c.Your First Practice Session: A Walk-Through

You’re ready to start practicing and begin your daily habit. Start by committing to a specific time. How you proceed will depend on which scenario you choose:

Scenario 1: I want to sign up for Insight Timer

If you decide to download the Insight Timer app, do the following:

  1. Download the Insight Timer app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
  2. Open the app on your phone, click the search icon at the bottom, and search for the Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days course.

This free seven-day course, led by teacher Sarah Blondin, guides you through the basics of the breath, the mind, and the body for 10 minutes a day.

Scenario 2: I would rather start on my own

  1. Pick a specific time to get started

    Identify a specific block of approximately 15 minutes to complete your first practice. This will lessen the chance of forgetting or putting your practice off.

  2. Pick the location you want to meditate

    Picking a location decreases the chance of putting your practice off and helps commit you to the practice. Perhaps it’s on the edge of your bed, on your couch, on the bus, or on your desk chair. If you’re at work, you can think about reserving a phone room or a conference room. All of these are appropriate options.

  3. Sit comfortably

    Comfortably is going to mean different things for different people. You can either cross your legs sitting on the floor or on a couch cushion. Or you might choose a chair and let your feet touch the floor beneath you. As you start to practice more and track your practice with a journal, you may discover which seats are comfortable and which are not. Finding a comfortable position is key, and if you need to move, scratch, cough, or readjust during your practice, please feel free to do so.

  4. Sitting comfortably
  5. Use the stopwatch on your phone or use the free Google stopwatch.

    The reason we choose a stopwatch and not an alarm is that we want you to be the guide of your meditation practice. For example, maybe some realization, connection, or feeling is occurring in your meditation practice, and then suddenly your alarm goes off. That sound will jarringly take you out of your practice without letting you complete that experience.

    Because you are guiding your practice, every now and then it’s OK to peek at the time. Has it been 10 minutes? Looking at the time does not necessarily take you out of your practice. If you think you’ll fall asleep or lose track of time, then set an alarm for a few minutes after your real practice. So if you’re practicing for 10 minutes, set an alarm for 15 minutes.

  6. Conduct your first practice by using the following technique:

    Start your stopwatch.

    Next, close your eyes or gently look down at the floor with a soft gaze. Take three full breaths to settle into the practice, breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth.

    After those three breaths, continue to breathe in and out through the nose. Begin to notice the slight movement of your body while breathing. You might note the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Or you may observe your belly moving. Some people feel a little movement around their nose.

    Keep your awareness or observation around the gentle movement your breath creates. Notice the entire length of your inhale and the entire length of your exhale. That is how you follow the breath.

    You’ll have a moment when a thought occurs or you begin to think. It will happen effortlessly and most likely without you noticing it. That is normal. The moment you notice you’ve been thinking, simply go back to the sensation of breathing or the gentle movement of the breath in your body. It doesn’t matter how often you do this.

    Steven Spear, longtime meditator with 20-plus years of meditation experience, recommends noticing if the thought entered when you were breathing in or when you were breathing out.6Steven Spear, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019. That question will always bring you back to meditating.

  7. At the end of your time, breath

    After you’ve meditated for about 10 minutes, take three full breaths again to end the practice. Gently blink and then open your eyes.

  8. Man meditation

If you decided to use a meditation journal or a habit tracker, write down a few things that you experienced during your meditation. If you would like specific instructions on this, see the 30-Day Challenge in this guide for some helpful writing prompts.

III.Common Mistakes to Avoid

When you sit down to meditate or watch others meditate, it often looks like nothing is happening. It looks as simple as sitting with your eyes closed. You might wonder if you are doing it right. You might even wonder, is there a way to even make a mistake? These questions are natural and I’ll address them in the following sections.

a.Common Learning Concerns and Realizations

The following is a list of the most common concerns or misunderstandings about beginning a meditation practice.

Beginner Concern #1

“I can’t control my thoughts. They are so distracting. My mind is all over the place.”

The mind is meant to think. Just how your legs are meant to walk. Trying to consistently control and limit your thoughts is impossible. If you tell yourself not to think of a hotdog right now, not thinking about a hotdog is going to be difficult. In fact, you’re probably thinking of a hotdog right now. Meditation teacher James Brown explains, “We compare our inside experience with people’s outside [exterior image]. We see a picture of a monk in a very serene place and we make this assumption that they’re not thinking of their groceries.”7James Brown, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019.  Those assumptions might not be correct.

When meditating, allow your thoughts to move in and out while using your meditation technique as an anchor to your experience of the present moment.

Beginner Concern #2

“I’m too busy, I don’t have time.”

An old Zen proverb says “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” This emphasizes that when your mind feels like it’s rushing, or you have no time to add another thing, then you most likely need to pause, catch your breath, and let the mind settle. Your breathing and heart rate slow down, your stress hormones level out, and that feeling of “running out of time” begins to quiet down.8Hoge et al., “The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Biological Acute Stress Responses in Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Psychiatry Research 262 (April 2018), 328-332, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28131433

Many large companies, such as Google and Nike, encouraging their employees to adopt a meditation practice, demonstrating that taking time to meditate does not reduce productivity.9Melissa Levin, “Why Google, Nike, and Apple Love Mindfulness Training, and How You Can Easily Love It Too,” Inc.com, June 12, 2017, https://www.inc.com/marissa-levin/why-google-nike-and-apple-love-mindfulness-training-and-how-you-can-easily-love-.html

When I spend more time meditating, I realize how 40 minutes a day does not impinge on any of my other tasks or to-dos. If anything, I’m surprised at how much more I get done, even with 40 minutes taken out of my day to meditate. Instead of struggling so hard to fit everything into my busy day, I feel much more present and at ease with how my day unfolds. With that present-moment awareness, I can acknowledge that whatever didn’t get done will get done another day.

Beginner Concern #3

“I can’t sit still.”

When you sit still, it becomes obvious that it is difficult to stop moving your body. At the same time, your mind might be racing with thoughts. Because of this, often the first few moments in meditation can be the most challenging. See if you can continue to follow your meditation technique as best as you can. But we’re also not forcing ourselves to do anything. If it feels unbearable, then gently guide yourself out of your practice and explore what happens the next day. If you can’t sit still because it physically feels uncomfortable, take a moment to readjust. Maybe you switch chairs, or you elevate your hips with a cushion. Enter the practice again, see if your adjustments helped. If not, try again tomorrow.

Beginner Concern #4

“Meditation is just a relaxation technique.”

Relaxation is definitely a product of meditation. However, meditation goes much deeper than just relaxation. Meditation uses relaxation techniques such as breathing, body scanning, and present-moment awareness to be more introspective and to drive you to deeper states of awareness and consciousness.

Beginner Cencern #5

“Meditation is a religion or a cult.”

Meditation is often associated with Eastern cultures such as Buddhism or Hinduism. It is understandable why this may be a concern and why many people mistakenly associate it with a religion. Sam Harris describes this mistake by comparing physics and Christianity.10“Divorcing Mindful Meditation from Religion, with Sam Harris,” Big Think, Oct. 1, 2014, https://bigthink.com/think-tank/divorcing-mindful-meditation-from-religion-with-sam-harris Christians may have developed physics, but that doesn’t mean studying physics requires an adherence to Christian thought. The same goes with meditation and religion. Practicing a secular form of meditation does not mean you’re practicing any particular religion.

Beginner Concern #6

“Closing my eyes doesn’t feel comfortable.”

In the beginning, this is a concern for many people. This is totally normal. If it feels unbearable, feel free to open your eyes slightly as you look down at the floor. Over time, closing your eyes completely may start to feel more comfortable.

Beginner Concern #7

“It needs to be quiet for me to meditate.”

We are not trying to tune out the world in meditation, we are tuning into ourselves as the world continues to flow around us.

Brenda Umana

While you may certainly choose to find a quiet space to meditate, it is not an outright requirement. You can meditate in an Uber, at the doctor’s office, at the airport, or sitting at a coffee shop. We are not trying to tune out the world in meditation, we are tuning into ourselves as the world continues to flow around us. You can and should try meditating in different enviroments. Doing so can aid your practice by exposing you to new and interesting experiences. Meditation practice shouldn’t stop the moment you leave your typical meditation spot.

Beginner Concern #8

“Am I meditating?”

Yes. If you are intending to meditate and follow your technique as best as you can, then yes, you are meditating. If you notice a thought enter and then go back to your meditation, yes, you are meditating. The only time that you are not meditating during a practice is when you notice a thought enter your mind and you decide to continue with the thought (i.e., finishing your to-do list, continuing to think of your lunch, planning your trip).

Beginner Concern #9

“I fell asleep. Am I doing something wrong?”

No, not at all. Many people enter meditation practice sleep deprived. So, in the beginning, many of us fall asleep. Over time the sleepiness may go away, but if it doesn’t, check in with your sleeping habits and your quality of sleep.

b.Common Time and Money Wasters

When you embark on a meditation practice, no practice is going to be a waste of time or money. It’s all part of the learning experience. Instructor James Brown says, “No time or money is ever wasted. The only time you feel like you’re wasting anything is when you hold on to it.”11James Brown, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019.

The following are a few ways you can use your time and money more efficiently when beginning a meditation practice.

Mistake #1

“Buying too many books on meditation but never actually meditating.”

First, start practicing. Then if you’re curious, explore some books once you have a practice habit.

Mistake #2

“Trying to ‘master’ meditation.”

We are never going to master meditation. It’s a practice that endlessly continues. We won’t understand it unless we sit down and practice.

Mistake #3

“Dabbling in different techniques, traditions, or styles.”

Personally, I was a dabbler for many years. Steven Spear has been meditating since he was a teenager and says that he played with a lot of styles in the beginning, but he really noticed changes only after he began to keep it simple and consistent.12Steven Spear, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019. Keep your practice simple.

Mistake #4

“Thinking you should meditate because others are doing it. Or because it’s popular. Or because very successful people meditate.”

Meditation is not something we check off or something that needs to get done. Instead, step into meditation with curiosity and don’t worry about trying to attain specific results.

Mistake #5

“Ads are telling you to ‘buy meditation essentials,’ such as a meditation cushion, earplugs, sitting pads, incense, heart rate monitors and so forth.”

Meditation is now mainstream. And receiving advertisements like this is part of the mainstream process. To start, keep things simple. Don’t feel like you need to buy specialized equipment. Use what you have available and focus on the practice itself. Remember that meditation can be practiced anywhere and it doesn’t need to be fully quiet—earplugs are not required.

Mistake #6

“Purchasing a subscription or premium version of a meditation app before learning to meditate.”

Ask yourself why the app is enticing you. Follow the recommendation of M Meditation founders, Tay and Val: always start with your personal why. Why do you want to meditate? Are you following a specific teacher? Did a course subject really resonate with you? Was it prescribed by your therapist? Getting curious can help you make these types of decisions. While it’s not wrong to purchase a meditation app or the premium version to unlock certain features, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it.

Mistake #7

“Thinking you need to travel to the Himalayas or some remote destination in order to meditate.”

I mentioned earlier that we’re not trying to tune out the world with meditation; instead, we’re trying to tune into the present moment. This doesn’t require a quiet space or a terrific view. We can meditate anywhere.

c.Common Jargon (and Meanings)

If you’re completely new to meditation, you may need to learn some terms. The following are a few common ones.

  • Awareness: This word is commonly heard or used in meditation to mean “observe” or “notice” with a bit more depth.13David Cox, “What Does Awareness Mean,” Headspace.com, https://www.headspace.com/blog/2015/12/29/what-does-awareness-mean/ For example, when someone says “become aware of your breath,” you may be confused, as you are already aware that you are breathing. Awareness in this context means to fully observe. Awareness at this level moves your attention so you can see the details of breathing. To get there, ask yourself the following: How does your breath move your body? Where do you feel the movement of the breath the most? Is it shallow or deep?
  • Body scan: Body scan or body scanning is a technique sometimes used in meditation. Typically, an instructor will guide you into bringing awareness to different parts of your body without actually moving that particular body part. You might be guided to be mindful about your body and notice how it feels without changing anything about it.
  • Donation-basis: Historically, meditation classes were offered on a donation basis. The word in the Buddhist language Pali for this is dana. Dana roughly translates to “generosity,” “gift,” “donation.”
  • Mind chatter, monkey mind and thought chatter: All of these terms mean the same thing and refer to the involuntary thinking that occurs naturally in everyone. As Steve Taylor puts it, mind chatter is “thoughts reminding you of the jobs you haven’t done, anxious thoughts about the future, fragments of memories, images of people you know, or snatches of songs you’ve recently heard.”14Steve Taylor, ”Can You Stop Thinking?,” Psychology Today, March 30, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/out-the-darkness/201503/can-you-stop-thinking
  • Mindfulness vs. meditation: These two words are generally interchangeable but they mean different things.
    • Mindfulness is your mind’s ability to be fully present or undistracted. Mindfulness means you’re aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not overly reactive to what’s going on around you. You can be mindful in your day-to-day activities, at work, with friends, and with your loved ones.
    • Meditation is the practice and the techniques that we’ve been talking about in this guide. Your sessions. A sit. It’s now often used as an umbrella term for practices and traditions that share similar components. One aspect that all meditation techniques and styles share is that it’s not about controlling your thoughts. Meditation is training for your mind. It’s training your mind to build the power of attention in order to be fully present and mindful. You already know what an untrained mind feels like: perhaps stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, ruminating, overthinking, and/or overreactive. Meditation is allowing the flow of everything within and around us to happen. In other words, the purpose of meditation is to discover what your mind is like, practice moments of attention, and allow experiences to unfold without identifying with the plethora of thoughts or the content inside your mind.

One reason the two may be confused or used interchangeably is because there’s a style of practice called Mindfulness Meditation, which some define as the practice of nonjudgment, staying curious. Mindful.org describes it as “approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.” Similarly, there’s a style of practice called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which is an eight-week program Jon Kabat-Zinn created in 1979. The technique was originally developed for use in hospitals with patients suffering from painful, chronic, or disabling conditions, and therefore has been extensively researched in health-care settings.

  • Session: A session can often mean a meditation class or a one-on-one private meditation session.
  • Sit: Similar to a session, a sit simply means a meditation session or class.
  • Technique: In this context, technique simply gets more specific within meditation. As described earlier, you can think of the word meditation like the word sport. When someone says, “I love sports,” you’d probably ask, “what kind of sport?” to get a better understanding. Technique is simply getting more specific within the very broad term meditation. Within this guide, in Scenario 2: I would rather start on my own, breathing is the technique.

IV.Dive Deeper

a.Build Your Practice (30-Day Challenge)

Whether you paid for the Insight Timer subscription or you decided to meditate without an app, you’re going to want to turn your practice into a habit. A 30-day program can help you create a lasting habit.

Scenario 1: I signed up for Insight Timer and paid for Insight Premium

In order to build the habit of meditation using the Insight Timer app, I recommend you pay for Insight Premium in order to access the longer, more comprehensive courses.

For this 30-day challenge, begin with the premium course Beginner’s Guide to a Mindful Life with Andy Hobson. Hobson has been teaching since 2010 and trained to teach MBSR at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University in Wales.

To access the course:
On your device, open the Insight Timer app and click the search icon at the bottom of the screen.

Step 1. On your device, open the Insight Timer app and click the search icon at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2. Click Learning to Meditate.

Step 3. Scroll down and click Beginner’s Guide to a Mindful Life.

Step 4. Click Begin or Start Now to add the course to your library. You will need to sign up for Members Plus, the paid version of Insight Timer, to access this course.

Now you’re ready to start your first longer class. Follow the instructions in the app to complete the class in 30 days. This will help you build your daily habit so that you can start to receive the long-term benefits of meditation.

While participating in the 30-day class, be sure to check out the associated community section. Within this class, the community section is available by clicking Andy’s classroom, where you can read other people’s questions or ask your own. Andy has personally responded to numerous questions with audio replies.

Participating in the community is helpful in that it allows you to experience the communal benefits of meditation, which is commonly misunderstood to be a solo-only practice.

Scenario 2: I would rather start meditating on my own and not spend money

If you’d rather start without Insight Timer, the following is a four-week challenge using the simple meditation technique described earlier. Set reminders on your calendar or on your phone to stay on track.

Week 1 – Theme: Breathing

The goal of this week is to become aware of your breath.

Note: the following section is an expanded version of the Your First Practice Session: A Walk-Through

Day of WeekDuration (Minutes)Closing
Sun101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Mon101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Tue101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Wed101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Thu101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Fri101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Sat101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
  1. Pick a specific time to get started

    Identify a specific block of approximately 15 minutes to complete your first practice. This will lessen the chance of forgetting or putting your practice off.

  2. Pick the location you want to meditate

    Picking a location decreases the chance of putting your practice off and helps commit you to the practice. Perhaps it’s on the edge of your bed, on your couch, on the bus, or on your desk chair. If you’re at work, you can think about reserving a phone room or a conference room. All of these are appropriate options.

  3. Sit comfortably

    Comfortably is going to mean different things for different people. You can either cross your legs sitting on the floor or on a couch cushion. Or you might choose a chair and let your feet touch the floor beneath you. As you start to practice more and track your practice with a journal, you may discover which seats are comfortable and which are not. Finding a comfortable position is key, and if you need to move, scratch, cough, or readjust during your practice, please feel free to do so.

  4. Sitting comfortably
  5. Use the stopwatch on your phone or use the free Google stopwatch.

    The reason we choose a stopwatch and not an alarm is that we want you to be the guide of your meditation practice. For example, maybe some realization, connection, or feeling is occurring in your meditation practice, and then suddenly your alarm goes off. That sound will jarringly take you out of your practice without letting you complete that experience.

    Because you are guiding your practice, every now and then it’s OK to peek at the time. Has it been 10 minutes? Looking at the time does not necessarily take you out of your practice. If you think you’ll fall asleep or lose track of time, then set an alarm for a few minutes after your real practice. So if you’re practicing for 10 minutes, set an alarm for 15 minutes.

  6. Conduct your first practice by using the following technique:

    Start your stopwatch.

    Next, close your eyes or gently look down at the floor with a soft gaze. Take three full breaths to settle into the practice, breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth.

    After those three breaths, continue to breathe in and out through the nose. Begin to notice the slight movement of your body while breathing. You might note the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Or you may observe your belly moving. Some people feel a little movement around their nose.

    Keep your awareness or observation around the gentle movement your breath creates. Notice the entire length of your inhale and the entire length of your exhale. That is how you follow the breath.

    You’ll have a moment when a thought occurs or you begin to think. It will happen effortlessly and most likely without you noticing it. That is normal. The moment you notice you’ve been thinking, simply go back to the sensation of breathing or the gentle movement of the breath in your body. It doesn’t matter how often you do this.

    Steven Spear, longtime meditator with 20-plus years of meditation experience, recommends noticing if the thought entered when you were breathing in or when you were breathing out.15Steven Spear, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019. That question will always bring you back to meditating.

  7. At the end of your time, breath

    After you’ve meditated for about 10 minutes, take three full breaths again to end the practice. Gently blink and then open your eyes.

  8. Man meditation
  9. Complete your meditation prompt

    As mentioned in What You Need to Get Started, a habit tracker or simple journal will support your progress and aid you in forming a meditation habit. To complete a prompt, simply reflect on your most recent meditation practice and write down details about your experience.

Week 1 Prompt:

Where did you feel the breath the most? Also, write down details about other physical, emotional, or mental sensations that you experienced.

The following is a simple example of a journal entry:


Date: 8/20/19

Actual time practiced: 11 minutes; Goal time: 10 minutes

I felt the breath the most around my chest. I could really feel the inhale and the movement of my chest but for some reason I couldn’t really feel my exhale. I then kept getting this weird pain in my neck and I wasn’t sure why. I tried to lean my head back a bit more and that seemed to help. I noticed myself thinking a lot about my neck pain and losing my awareness of the breath because of it. It happened so quickly when I would drift away from my breath. It’s helpful to know I could reset by going back to the breath as much as I need to.


Week 2 – Theme: Body Scanning

The goal this week will be to layer on awareness of the body without actually moving any particular body part.

Day of WeekDuration (Minutes)Closing
Sun101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Mon101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Tue101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Wed101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Thu101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Fri101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Sat101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal

Use the same steps as in the first walk-through or the first week from elsewhere within this guide. After beginning your meditation, slowly integrate a body scan by starting at the tips of your toes. As you inhale, move your awareness up through your legs, hips, torso, arms, chest, and head. On an exhale, reverse your awareness down your body from your head to your toes. Move slowly up and down your body as you breathe in and out. When you catch your mind wandering, return to breathing in and out and reintroduce the body scan. You’re not moving or changing any particular body part, you’re just noticing it.

Week 2 Prompt:

Was there anything in your physical body, maybe a tension, an ache, or a pain, that stood out in your body scan? What felt easeful, peaceful, or open in your body?

Be sure to also write down details about other physical, emotional, or mental sensations that you experienced.

Week 3 – Theme: Sounds

The goal this week will be to add awareness of the sounds around you without attaching yourself to any of the particular sounds.

Day of WeekDuration (Minutes)Closing
Sun101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Mon101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Tue101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Wed101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Thu101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Fri101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Sat101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal

Follow the same steps from the first walk-through or from week one above, but during your meditation, begin to notice any sounds around you, near or far, in the room or outside the room.

As you draw your awareness to the sounds around you, try not to analyze or wonder what they are. Simply bounce your awareness from sound to sound. And when your mind wanders, notice the breath in and out and continue to be aware of the surrounding sounds.

Sound is similar to the way thoughts enter our mind. We can’t control the sounds around us. When a car zooms by or a loud siren goes by, we can’t stop those sounds. We can only control our reaction to them. Similarly, when thoughts enter our mind, we don’t try to control them or eliminate them. Since we can only control how we react, in meditation that means going back to the technique.

Week 3 Prompt:

What was your experience in listening to the sounds around you?

Be sure to also write down details about other physical, emotional, or mental sensations that you experienced.

Week 4 – Theme: Allow

The goal this week will be to allow the meditation experience to happen and to integrate what you learned in the past three weeks. During this week, be your own guide and see how the practice unfolds.

Day of WeekDuration (Minutes)Closing
Sun101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Mon101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Tue101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Wed101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Thu101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Fri101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Sat101 minute writing and reflecting in your meditation journal
Week 4 Prompt:

What was your experience in allowing the experience to unfold?

Be sure to also write down details about other physical, emotional, or mental sensations that you experienced.

b.How to Pick a Good Class or Teacher

Below are some helpful tips on picking the right class or teacher for you. Remember that this is your time to explore and there’s no one clear path to take.

  • Do pick a teacher or class that interests you. Read about available teachers and classes and determine if any of their perspectives resonate with you. For example, if you finished the seven-day introductory course and afterward you were intrigued by the breathing exercises, do a Google search on “breath work meditation teacher” or “breath meditation class.”
  • Do pick based on experience. When looking for your next teacher, identify how many years the prospective teacher has been practicing and how many years they’ve been teaching. Currently, meditation doesn’t have any formal globally accepted certification or degrees, so it’s important to look further than that. As it continues to be widely practiced, certificates, schooling, and education may change, which may mean that new teachers will be certified and/or have some other kind of credentials, while longtime meditation teachers may not. This does not discredit them, so take the time to look at the big picture.
  • Don’t dabble. Find a class, technique, or teacher you’re drawn to and commit to it for at least 30 days, or long enough to build a habit.
  • Do pick a class that allows time for silence. While meditation classes and techniques vary, it is generally best to pick a class where the instructor intentionally leaves time for silence so that you can eventually learn to meditate on your own if you’d like.
  • Don’t worry about class size in the beginning. Meditation class sizes vary dramatically. They ranch from solo practices to mass meditation movements like the one in New York City called The Big Quiet. Try a range of sizes to determine what feels most comfortable to you.
  • Don’t look at Yelp. Yelp is a great resource for restaurants and other services but not for skills that require progress and learning. Going back to the analogy of the runner, it would be like reviewing the coach on the day the runner didn’t meet their pace. It’s such a small window to review, and many Yelp reviews are written out of context.
  • Do read reviews that are in context. Meditation apps like Insight Timer have reviews of teachers, courses, and one-off guided classes. My general method for reading reviews on apps like this is to look for whether it will interest me. For example, if I’m seeking something focused on the breath, but the reviews say “great body scan!,” I might skip it simply because I’m looking for breathing.

c.How to Find Your Community

Finding a community of like-minded people is highly beneficial when beginning a meditation practice. While online communities are great for their low barriers to entry, in-person communities are generally better holistically. Social scientist Brené Brown found that, “Social media are helpful in cultivating connection only to the extent that they’re used to create real community where there is structure, purpose, and meaning, and some face-to face contact.”16Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (New York: Random House, 2017), 140.

Brown goes on to explain that the internet is great for developing and starting community but “true belonging, real connection and real empathy require meeting real people in a real space in real time.”17Brown, Braving the Wilderness, 141.

Below are a few helpful tips on finding the best communities for you.

Online

Navigating the Insight Timer Community

Insight Timer has a worldwide community of more than a million meditators.

To access the Insight Timer community, in the Insight Timer app, click the Earth icon at the bottom of the home page, then click the image of the world map to access the community page. You can set your location to find people in your area, connect with friends who have the app, or scroll down to see who is meditating at that moment. The list of people meditating now is a great feature to use after you’re done meditating to see who else was meditating at the same time as you. You can even choose to send them a quick note to say “Thanks for meditating with me.”

Other Ways to Find Online Community

Facebook Groups has become a very popular feature on Facebook. While many people use it to connect with close friends and family, I’m noticing a shift toward group engagement. One relevant Facebook Group with more than a thousand members is Mindfulness Meditation.

Facebook also offers a number of meditation groups through its app marketplace (search for “meditation apps” in Facebook to view a list). Look for a teacher you like in any of the meditation apps available through Facebook or search for something specific about meditation, such as “breathing meditation.”

Listen to like-minded individuals or experts. Podcasts are a great free way to listen to stories, people, or professionals on mindfulness and meditation. Again, helpful ways to find these are by searching “meditation” or “breathing meditation” for a teacher you like.

It is quite normal for these podcast hosts to offer a direct way to interact with them. This includes listing their social media profiles, directions on how to leave them questions on voicemail, emailing questions for them to answer on their podcast, or even specific Facebook Groups for their listeners to join. Others have recommended the following podcasts to me: Ten Percent Happier, Making Sense, and Tara Brach.

In-Person

You can find local meet-ups on Insight Timer by clicking the search icon at the bottom. Type in “your city + meet-up.” You can then scroll through the top resources or click groups to find other local meditators.

To find an in-person meditation center or studio, simply type “meditation + your city” into Google. Bigger cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Boulder have specific nonsecular meditation studios such as MNDFL in New York, Unplug Meditation in Los Angeles, or The Subtle Mind in Boulder. Smaller cities may have drop-in classes at yoga studios or at various mindfulness centers or universities.

Personally, I mix all of these sources. I love to listen to podcasts and gather insight from well-known experts in the industry whose workshops or courses I currently can’t attend. Or, after completing an in-person course, I join the instructor’s Facebook Group, where I can ask questions or follow up. I also personally lead retreats where I teach mindfulness in the form of yoga and meditation at in-person gatherings.

d.Top Authorities and Resources

Meditation is constantly evolving. The number of meditation authorities and resources is constantly growing. With that in mind, the following list will help you get started. While not comprehensive, it will give you a solid foundation for expanding your meditation knowledge.

Essential Experts

Top Publication

Top Traditional Centers

Top Institutions

Top Books

e.The Science of Meditation

Scientists are becoming aware of the benefits of meditation for people’s physical and mental health. While results vary, meditation has been linked with the following health benefits:

Some of the latest neuroscience research even shows that meditation can change your brain. The following short video produced by Scientific American explains how this works.

How Does Meditation Change the Brain? – Instant Egghead #54

f.Formal Styles of Meditation

The following is a list of the most common formal meditation styles. For a more extended list, check out the book Practical Meditation: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide by Giovanni Dienstmann.

  • Vipassana: Vipassana comes from the Buddhist tradition and is often translated as “insight” or “mindfulness.” Mindfulness meditation most likely comes from this style of practice, that is, being fully aware of the breath.
  • Zen Buddhist Meditation: Zen, or Zazen, Buddhist meditation concentrates on the breath, on contemplating a question, statement, or riddle, or on just sitting.
  • Vedic Meditation: In this kind of meditation, a word or phrase is repeated silently and used to focus attention. It may also be known as Transcendental Meditation (TM). TM was coined by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Maharishi Yogi achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and other celebrities.
  • Taoism: This is a Chinese philosophy and religion, also spelled Daoism. Taoist meditation is jing (quiet, stillness, calm) and ding (concentration, focus).
  • Yoga Nidra: This is a guided meditation done lying down in order to attain a positive state of deep physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. One commonly known center that teaches Yoga Nidra is the iRest Institute, established in the 1970s by Richard Miller, PhD, who adapted Yoga Nidra for therapeutic application.

V.Research Methodology

In researching my recommendations, I interviewed other experts in the field and looked back at the insights I had gleaned from my many years of experience with meditation. To make sure my recommendations were up-to-date, I supplemented my expert interviews with those of new students and compared the resources recommended by top review sources such as Wirecutter, Reviews.com, and CNET. All of that and more acted as the basis for my recommendations in this guide.

a.Considered Opinions

Experts Consulted

James Brown: Brown began exploring meditation in his mid-30s after reading the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, the story of a young man following the Buddha. After visiting various Zen centers and having a moment where he thought his mind was too crazy to meditate, Brown discovered Vedic meditation. It worked so well for him that he embarked on a two-year study program, capped off with a four-month intensive in India, high in the Himalayas, studying with a Vedic Master. He offers an online course called FLOW Meditation that combines meditation, breath work, mindfulness, and visualization.

Steven Spear: Spear started meditating as a teenager. At an early age he was interested in self-discovery and personal development. He realized that humans can use meditation as a tool to study the mind, and he has successfully studied the nature of his mind. This led him to found Cyndica Labs, a web and mobile solutions agency. Meditation has helped him be a business owner, do things better, and simply be human.

Tay and Val: Tay and Val started their meditation practice on the road. Originally from Singapore, they moved to the United States and became the first women in their family to graduate college. After leaving award-winning media careers, they traveled the world by bicycle and, literally, learned meditation on the road—from others, during conversations, and through storytelling. They were curious about the practices of compassion and self-awareness, which drew them to establish and create M Meditation, a community-based meditation site for pop-up meditation events.

Ricardo das Neves: Das Neves is a graduate of the Karuna Center for Yoga & Healing Arts and the University of Washington’s screenwriting program, and the author of Unenlightened: Confessions of an Irreverent Yoga Teacher. He has practiced yoga and meditation for over 20 years and has led workplace mindfulness and meditation workshops for Fortune 500 companies. He currently divides his time between teaching yoga and writing novels and screenplays. His extensive annotations on yoga and personal development practices are featured on ElephantJournal.com and on his website.

Student Consulted

Ananya Datta: Datta started her meditation practice in January of 2019. She had never explored meditation as an adult and had brief moments of connection in her spiritual practices growing up. As a young professional navigating the ebbs and flows of life, she’s found that guided meditations help her mental health.

b.Key Research Considerations

For picking the best meditation learning resource for most people, the following criteria were used in selecting the learning resource recommendation:

  • Does the resource keep the practice simple?
  • Is the resource teaching students how to build a practice on their own?
  • Can students get started quickly?
  • Can students build a habit with the resource?
  • Can the resource take students further or deeper in their studies?
  • Does the resource feel like a community?

c.Tested Resources

Based on this criteria, the following are some of the other contenders that I tested before picking my recommendation for the best meditation learning resource for most people:

Waking Up: The Waking Up app was developed and is guided by neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author Sam Harris. It’s described as a meditation course for beginners and experienced meditators alike. Downloading the app, along with a few guided meditations, is free. To unlock all of the content and the full course you must become a paid subscriber.

Key takeaways:

  • One of the most extensive courses I’ve seen. He has a 50-day course followed by daily new meditations and lectures. From my research, nothing else could match this.
  • Introductory offer is five sessions for five days.
  • The 50-day course costs $14.99 per month or $119.99 per year.

The reason it didn’t make it as the top recommendation is, despite the introduction of Groups functionality, the service lacked a public community aspect. Users can create groups but they don’t have a built-in way to connect with unknown existing groups.

Journey Meditation: The Journey Meditation app offers live guided meditations and community support that feels more personal and one-on-one than other options. The app has numerous teachers with diverse backgrounds and skills. Downloading the app is free and it offers free seven-day access to limited content.

Key takeaways:

  • Great live meditation sessions with a variety of instructors.
  • Offers some of the best community features, such as live sessions, community support in the app, and highlighting community members on Instagram.
  • Seven-day free trial with limited content.
  • After the seven-day free trial, the cost is $19.99 per month, $95.99 per year, or $399.99 for lifetime.

The reason I didn’t pick it for the top learning resource was that it doesn’t appear to offer any courses.

VI.Conclusion

d.Final Thoughts

We’ve made it to the end! If you’ve read this far you are fully prepared to start a meditation practice.

Take these final words from meditation teacher and expert James Brown: “Meditation doesn’t fix everything. At your core, you are an experience of consciousness, the experience of being, and meditation is a technique that can expand and polish that lens of consciousness in which you experience everything. It’s a really great place to start.”18James Brown, interview with author, Seattle, WA, September 9, 2019.

Don’t get discouraged, you are setting yourself up for success each time you sit. Keep a curious mind as you explore this new practice. If you decide to download Insight Timer, it’s a great place to start with minimal cost and commitment. You’ll be in good hands with the free seven-day introductory course as well as the other courses in the premium version.

As you can see, the practice requires minimal equipment to get started. But it does require motivation, commitment, and consistency. Find ways that help you stay consistent and use your meditation journal or habit tracker to follow your progress.

Sit for 10 minutes each day or maybe more! Maybe twice a day! You are capable of more than you think. While a one-minute meditation is better than none, nudge yourself to sit longer each time. You’ll soon look forward to sitting and exploring the journey of the mind. Remember that it’s an aimless practice that trains your mind to be fully present and aware of the wonderful wonders of being human in this world.

e.Sources

American Mindfulness Research Association. https://goamra.org/

Arpaia, Alex. “The Best Meditation Apps.” Wirecutter, June 14, 2018. https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-meditation-apps/

Basso, Julia C., Alexandra McHale, Victoria Ende, Douglas J. Oberlin, and Wendy A. Suzuki. “Brief, Daily Meditation Enhances Attention, Memory, Mood, and Emotional Regulation in Non-Experienced Meditators.” Behavioural Brain Research 356, no. 1 (Jan. 2019): 208-220. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016643281830322X

Brach, Tara. “The Three Qualities of Awareness.” Tara Brach blog, March 21, 2013. https://www.tarabrach.com/the-three-qualities-of-awareness/

Capritto, Amanda. “11 Meditation Apps to Reduce Stress and Help You Sleep.” CNET, Sept. 13, 2019. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/10-best-meditation-apps-of-2019/

Chopra, Deepak. “7 Myths of Meditation.” Huffington Post, May 9, 2013. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/meditation-myths_b_2823629

Clear, James. “How to Build a New Habit: This Is Your Strategy Guide.” JamesClear.com. https://jamesclear.com/habit-guide

Clear, James. “The Ultimate Habit Tracker Guide: Why and How to Track Your Habits.” JamesClear.com. https://jamesclear.com/habit-tracker

Cox, David. “What Does Awareness Mean.” Headspace.com. https://www.headspace.com/blog/2015/12/29/what-does-awareness-mean/

“Dana: The Practice of Giving.” Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, Summer 2003. https://tricycle.org/magazine/dana-practice-giving/

“Dana Worksheet.” Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, Summer 2003. https://tricycle.org/magazine/dana-worksheet/

Davis, Lidia. “Meditation Apps: Are They Worth It?” Reviews.com, Jan. 15, 2019. https://www.reviews.com/blog/meditation-app-guide/

“Divorcing Mindful Meditation from Religion, with Sam Harris.” Big Think, Oct. 1, 2014. https://bigthink.com/think-tank/divorcing-mindful-meditation-from-religion-with-sam-harris

“Getting Started with Mindfulness.” Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

Giovanni. “34 Myths About Meditation.” Live & Dare. https://liveanddare.com/myths-about-meditation/

Giovanni. “Types of Meditation—An Overview of 23 Meditation Techniques.” Live & Dare. https://liveanddare.com/types-of-meditation

Gunaratana, Bhante Henepola. “What Exactly Is Vipassana Meditation?” Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. https://tricycle.org/magazine/vipassana-meditation/

Harris, Sam. “We Are Lost in Thought: A Response to the 2011 Edge Question.” SamHarris.org, Jan. 19, 2011. https://samharris.org/we-are-lost-in-thought/

Hoge, E.A., E. Bui, S. A. Palitz, N. R. Schwarz, M. E. Owens, J. M. Johnston, M. H. Pollack, and N. M. Simon. “The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Biological Acute Stress Responses in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Psychiatry Research 262 (April 2018): 328-332. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28131433

“How Does Meditation Change the Brain.” Scientific American, Oct. 31, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0DMYs4b2Yw&feature=youtu.be

“How Do You Know You’re Meditating?” The Conscious Life. https://theconsciouslife.com/are-you-meditating.htm

“How to Meditate for Beginners.” The Conscious Life. https://theconsciouslife.com/how-to-meditate-a-guide-for-beginners.htm

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Levin, Marissa. “Why Google, Nike, and Apple Love Mindfulness Training, and How You Can Easily Love It Too.” Inc.com, June 12, 2017. https://www.inc.com/marissa-levin/why-google-nike-and-apple-love-mindfulness-training-and-how-you-can-easily-love-.html

“Meditation Techniques: Taoist Meditation Methods.” Holistic-online.com. http://1stholistic.com/meditation/hol_meditation_taoist_meditation.htm

Ospina, Maria B., Kenneth Bond, Mohammad Karkhaneh, Lisa Tjosvold et al. Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 155. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, June 2007. https://permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps83613/medit.pdf

Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. https://siyli.org/

Siegel, Daniel. “The Science of Mindfulness.” Mindful, Sept. 7, 2010. https://www.mindful.org/the-science-of-mindfulness/

“Sitting in Meditation.” Kadampa Buddhism. https://kadampa.org/reference/sitting-in-meditation

Taylor, Steve. “Can You Stop Thinking?” Psychology Today, March 30, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/out-the-darkness/201503/can-you-stop-thinking

Vaishnav, B. S., S. B. Vaishnav, V. S. Vaishnav, and J. R. Varma. “Effect of Yoga-nidra on Adolescents Well-Being: A Mixed Method Study.” International Journal of Yoga 11, no. 3 (Sept.-Dec. 2018): 245-248. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134739/

“What Is Dana?” Sacramento Insight Meditation. http://sactoinsight.org/what-is-dana/

“Why We Find It Hard to Meditate: Ed and Deb Shapiro Explore Common Reasons and Obstacles.” Mindful, April 20, 2011. https://www.mindful.org/why-we-find-it-hard-to-meditate/

Brown, Brené. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (New York: Random House, 2017).

Main photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

About the Author

Brenda Umana

Brenda Umana is a wellness advocate who has crafted her career as a yoga, mindfulness, and public health professional. With a Master of Public Health from Columbia University, her main goal is to share these practices and make them approachable to everyone. These practices have been pivotal in her own path to health, both physical and emotional. Because mental health is a current public health issue, she believes emotional wellness is as much a public health crisis now as obesity, chronic diseases, and mental health. She currently teaches in Seattle and leads international wellness retreats. Brenda is currently working toward becoming a Mindful Coach to complement her knowledge and passion for total well-being for all. www.beeumana.com


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