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6 Easy Meditation and Relaxation Exercises for Beginners
Learning to meditate can seem difficult and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be.
The best way to learn to meditate is just to jump in. Pick an exercise below that appeals to you. Don’t overdo it at first. Start with only a minute or two at a time, and work up to longer sessions only when you feel comfortable.
- 20 Practical Meditation Tips for Beginners
- How Meditation Can Change Your Life
- 7 Meditation Tips for Beginners
- 5 Meditation Alternatives for People Who Don’t Like Meditating
- 6 Guided Meditations for Relaxation
You can do these exercises in various positions. You can do them while sitting, lying down, or even while walking.
Exercise 1. I know
As you inhale, say silently to yourself, “I breathe in. I know I breathe in.” As you exhale, say silently to yourself, “I breathe out. I know I breathe out.”
Repeat for the duration of your meditation session.
If your mind starts to wander, bring it gently back to the exercise.
Exercise 2. Counting
Inhale. As you exhale, think “1.” As you exhale, think “2.”
Continue counting this way up to 4, then start over again with 1.
If at any time your mind wanders and you lose count, bring your mind gently back and start over again at 1.
Exercise 3. Mantra
You don’t have to pay a fortune to a meditation franchise operation to get assigned a mantra. Pick any one you like! You can use the classic “Ohm,” or you can choose any word that makes you feel calm and happy. You can use a phrase, or you can even use a nonsense syllable that has a pleasant sound.
If you use a single word, repeat it silently to yourself on each inhalation and exhalation. If you use a longer phrase, find a pattern where your inhalations and exhalations can synchronize with the words.
As above, when your attention starts to wander, and you go off on a train of thought, bring your mind gently back.
Exercise 4: Breath
When you inhale, concentrate on the sensation of your breath as it enters your nostrils. When you exhale, concentrate on the sensation of your breath leaving your nostrils. Can you feel a difference in temperature? Is the air cooler as it enters and hotter as it leaves?
This exercise may be harder than the ones above, because it can be harder to focus on a sensation than on a sound. As a result, your attention may wander more frequently. As soon as you notice that you are no longer paying attention to your breath, bring your attention back.
Exercise 5. Golden Light
As you inhale, imagine that your breath is a golden light filling up your lungs. As you exhale, imagine the golden light going into your brain and bringing energy to every brain cell. On your next inhalation, imagine the golden light going into your heart. On your exhalation, imagine the light leaving through the top of your head and surrounding your body with a golden glow.
Repeat the whole sequence three times.
Exercise 6. Relaxation Band
Imagine that a band several inches wide is moving slowly down your body, starting at the top of your head. As the band moves, imagine that every area that it touches becomes relaxed.
The Three Minute Meditator, by David Harp and Nina Feldman, New Harbinger Publications, 1996.
The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, New Harbinger Publications, 2000.
Lilias Folan’s yoga videotapes. They contain wonderful, though short, guided relaxation exercises at the end of each yoga session.
If you’d like more ways to have a calmer life, check out our Slow it Down class.