Introduction to mindfulness meditation: beginner’s guide

Taking ten minutes to do ‘nothing’ may seem like a luxury you can’t afford. But it’s essential when it comes to maintaining one of your greatest assets: your mind.

The terms ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’ might seem a bit hocus-pocus, but you’ve got to admit: we could all use some strategies to chill out from time-to-time.

After all, your mental health is an imperative part of your overall health and influences your risk of developing illnesses such as heart disease, according to Beyond Blue and the Heart Foundation of Australia.

So here’s a no-fuss, research-backed introduction to meditation.

Redefining meditation

As it turns out, you don’t need to light incense and sit uncomfortably for three-hours to reap the benefits of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation involves “spending specific time focusing on your senses and allowing your thoughts to come and go calmly, without judging or trying to change them”, according to SANE Australia.

This kind of meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of fear, stress and anxiety, preserve the brain’s grey-matter, and improve concentration and memory, SANE Australia has stated.

So here are some simple ways to introduce meditation to your life.

Moving meditation

Any movement can in fact be meditation, if it’s done mindfully.

Yoga is an obvious example – even the most vigorous forms encourage us to focus on movement and breathing with purpose and control. The same goes for Tai Chi and Qigong.

Other not-so-obvious types of moving meditation include walking meditation (kinhin meditation) and colouring-in (as reported by the ABC). The University of New South Wales even says paying attention while brushing your teeth can be an act of meditation.

Guided meditation

Many of us don’t have the skills or discipline to meditate solo, which makes guided meditation tools very helpful.

The following free resources are backed by science and some of Australia’s leading mental health organisations.

  • Smiling Mind: Backed by SANE Australia, this app provides meditation programs to help you cope with the stresses and challenges of daily life. It has programs for young children, teenagers, adults, as well as those in sporting, educational and workplace settings.
  • Headspace Meditation and Mindfulness: This app has a series of guided meditation ‘packs’ designed to address common issues. For example, the ‘Work and Performance’ meditation packs include modules around productivity, focus, creativity and balance. The ‘Sport’ packs include motivation, focus, training, analysis and recovery.
  • ACT Companion: Companion app to best-selling book The Happiness Trap, this app has mindfulness recordings for beginners through to experienced meditators. They run from less than five-minutes to over half-an-hour and are designed to use anywhere, any time – even on the busiest of days.
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Co-authoring the popular investment book, Property vs Shares.