Woman meditating outside on a park bench in workout clothes

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New to Meditation? Here’s How to Form a Beginner-Friendly Practice That Sticks

You can meditate anywhere, anytime.

By Amy Marturana WinderlMarch 7, 2024


Meditation probably doesn't seem uber accessible to most beginners. Like many physical and mental practices, it requires patience, commitment, and hard work. Even so, it's completely possible to form a sustainable meditation routine that works for you. The biggest hurdle standing in the way? Starting. 

With the help of experts such as Peloton instructor Aditi Shah, we dive into everything beginners need to know about meditation before building their practice. Read on to learn more about the basics of meditation, find out how it can improve the quality of daily life, and receive concrete tips on how to meditate for the first time.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is an ancient practice that’s centered on focusing your attention and quieting your mind. It’s become a popular method to help people from all walks of life think deeply, dial into their inner selves, tap into their emotions, and so much more. There's no single "right way" to meditate, and if you're new to it, you might not realize how many different types of meditation exist.

In fact, there are tons of misconceptions about the practice as a whole, and one of the most common ones is that you have to completely turn off your thoughts and silence your mind. “There is no way to be bad at meditation, and shutting down your brain should not be your intention,” Nika Gueci, the executive director at the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion, and Resilience at Arizona State University, says.

Instead, meditation is more about focusing your mind. That can mean tuning into your thoughts, recognizing them, and refocusing them on something simple, such as your breathing, a relaxing image in your mind, or even the way your body feels sitting in a chair.

Meditation also brings more mindfulness into your life—in fact, it’s almost impossible to talk about meditation without mentioning mindfulness. “Meditation and mindfulness are interconnected, but they are two different concepts,” Gueci explains. “We have to talk about both to gain a full understanding.”

Mindfulness is all about being in tune with your surroundings and body, and Gueci says it’s more of a lifestyle (think: savoring the tastes and smells of each bite of a meal rather than scarfing it down in front of a TV). Meditation, on the other hand, is a more formal, isolated practice that can help calm internal chatter and bring awareness to a present moment. “We set aside time in our day to sit in silence, do a guided meditation, or concentrate on a mantra,” Gueci explains.

What Are the Benefits of Meditation?

A regular meditation practice can introduce short and long-term benefits to your physical body and mind (yes, even if you’re a beginner). For starters, many types of meditation can stop your mind from wandering, allowing you to dial into the present moment and notice how you’re feeling. 

“Meditation is a game changer, because it's an opportunity for us to examine and participate in our relationship to ourselves,” Aditi says. “It allows us to look at the stories we tell ourselves, which shape who we are. Strength, power, compassion, generosity—all the qualities we want to bring into our lives—they start within, and meditation allows us to access that.” 

For many people, this type of introspection is challenging. “Meditation can bring to light parts of ourselves that are under the surface of our awareness, things we may rather keep hidden,” Gueci says. “Shining a light on these aspects can bring discomfort and unpleasant emotions.” Tempting as it may be to shy away from these feelings, it can be beneficial to face them. Think of meditation as an opportunity to lean into the things you want to work on without any judgment. With time, it can give you the power and confidence to change your thoughts and feelings, which can ultimately transform your daily life.

Other potential benefits of a consistent meditation practice include:

Meditation Tips for Beginners

Allowing thoughts to drift in and out of your mind is easier said than done, especially if you’re just beginning your practice. “Meditation is difficult because it’s going against the grain, asking us to be right here—not in the past, not in the future, but in the present,” Aditi says.

However the actual process of meditating can be super simple. You can do it anywhere, anytime, without any equipment. If you’re ready to begin your practice, start by reading these beginner-friendly tips.

1. Meditate at the Same Time Every Day

Meditating at the same time every day can make your practice a core part of your daily routine. Some people prefer the morning, when they’re still in that transitional space between waking and sleep, while others prefer evening to help them relax before bed,” Gueci says. 

You may eventually meditate multiple times throughout the day (in between meetings, for example), but to start, pick a time that seamlessly fits into your daily schedule. Make it easier by pairing your meditation with an existing habit, like brewing your morning coffee, Aditi suggests.

2. Pick a Dedicated Space to Practice

You can technically meditate anywhere, so feel free to try out different spaces until you find one that works for you and allows you to tap into your practice. Our advice? Look for an area that’s quiet, comfortable, and free from interruptions. And don’t worry too much about your meditation position; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach—you can sit, lie down, or even walk during your practice.

3. Set a Timer

Using a timer eliminates the need to check any device, such as a phone or smartwatch, during your session. Set an alarm for your preferred amount of time (start small with two to five minutes), and select a calming notification sound that’s unique to your meditation practice, Gueci suggests.

4. Try Guided Meditation

Some beginners find guided meditations especially helpful. By following instructors’ prompts, they can focus solely on their practice and don’t have to worry about keeping track of time or wonder if they’re “doing it” right. The Peloton App offers guided meditations of a variety of lengths, ranging from five to 30 minutes.

5. Don’t Stress About Your Breathing

Deep breathing calms your body and mind, but don’t overthink it or force any type of breath that doesn’t feel natural to you while meditating. “Breathe deeply in whatever way works best for you,” Gueci says. “We emphasize the breath in meditation because it serves as an anchor for your attention. When your mind is racing, you can always come back to your breath as a point of focus.”

6. Give Yourself Grace

The goal is to practice meditation, not to perfect it, Gueci says. “Keep an open mind, and don’t expect anything in particular. We can read about meditation all day but cannot reap the rewards unless we practice.”

Aditi Shah sitting cross-legged on floor

Meditation Techniques for Beginners

There are many different meditation techniques to try, but at the end of the day, the best option is the one you’ll do consistently, Gueci says. Anything you try is going to involve breathing deeply and intentionally. Beyond that, they each offer something unique. Here are three examples that are suitable for beginners:

1. Patterned Breathing

Focusing on your breath while meditating can help you get into the right mindset, and patterned breathing, specifically, involves inhaling and exhaling in a specific rhythm. One of Gueci’s favorites is a technique called box breathing, in which you take a deep breath in, hold it, exhale, and hold again, all for the same duration (often four seconds). You can also simply breathe deeply while counting to a certain number (10 seconds in, 10 seconds out). The key is to focus on the flow of your breath. If other thoughts pop into your brain, recognize them and then let them pass.

 2. Visualization

This meditation technique involves transporting your mind to a place or setting that’s relaxing to you. (For example, you might picture yourself lying on a beach and listening to the waves.) Visualization exercises are often done in guided meditation settings, as an instructor can cue you through them.

3. Mantra Meditation

A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over again, like “I am worthy” or “I can do hard things.” Using a mantra while meditating can help streamline your thoughts and keep your mind from wandering as you breathe.

How Do I Know If I’m Meditating Correctly?

“There really is no right or wrong way to meditate,” Gueci says. The experience is extremely personal, so there aren’t any set metrics to measure success. Instead, keep this guidance in mind:

  • It’s normal for your mind to wander. If it does, that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. “We all have busy minds,” Aditi says. “Our minds have thoughts—that’s what they do—it’s just a part of being human.”

  • Notice thoughts without judgment. If you find yourself thinking about what’s for dinner or a meeting you have later in the day, acknowledge the thought and then return to the voice used in the guided meditation, your breathing, or a mantra.

  • Return to your breath. “The breath is so important in meditation because it serves as an anchor for our attention. We can always return to our breath—it is free and accessible wherever we are, for as long as we are alive,” Gueci says.

  • Meditation is a practice. Your first meditation won’t be perfect, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. “The practice is about showing up consistently, and it’s worth acknowledging that you are showing up and building that,” Aditi says.

How Long Should You Meditate?

There’s no such thing as “too little” when it comes to meditation, Gueci says. Any time you spend doing it is better than nothing.

Her advice for beginners: Commit to meditating every day for one full week. Start with just two minutes and gradually increase the time each day until you get to 10 minutes. “You wouldn’t go from the couch to a 5K in a week. You’d build up slowly so that you don’t get burned out and give up,” she says. The same strategy goes for meditation.

The most important thing is to pick an amount of time you know you can commit to consistently, even if it’s brief.

Guided Meditations for Beginners

As mentioned earlier, you can meditate on your own, but it never hurts to have guided meditations at the ready. Browse the Peloton App for a wide array of offerings, including Aditi’s 3-Week Intro to Meditation course.


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