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Tips for Starting Your Meditation Practice


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Young woman meditating with hands in prayer at home.

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My well-being journey began in 2018 when I received my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) diagnosis. Following that diagnosis, my therapist introduced me to the many benefits of meditation and mindfulness (defined by Mindful as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”). These practices have become staples in helping me navigate anxious moments and mitigate daily stressors.

In my own experience, meditation is one of the most powerful mindfulness tools. Beyond fostering self-awareness, it helps us find tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life. And not only does it equip us with skills to manage stress and improve sleep, but research also indicates its potential in assisting with conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Given the disproportionate impact of stress-related health conditions such as these on the Black community, meditation is a particularly valuable resource for our well-being.

Despite its well-documented advantages, many individuals may find the prospect of starting a meditation practice to be intimidating. Whether stemming from a lack of familiarity with the practice, uncertainty about where to begin, or challenges in maintaining consistency, embarking on a meditation journey can feel challenging at first. But the beauty of meditation lies in its simplicity—requiring only our presence, our breath, and a willingness to embrace the journey.

SEE ALSO: 8 Dimensions of Wellness – What Does Caring For Your Mind, Body, and Spirit Look Like?

Want to begin your meditation practice but don’t know where to start? Read on for six approachable tips to help you find your flow. Meditation for beginners:

Find Your Comfort Zone

Meditation can be done anywhere, but creating a dedicated space for your practice helps you to establish a routine, especially when just starting out. This doesn’t require an elaborate setup; a cozy corner anywhere in your home is just fine. The key is to create a sacred space that will allow you to minimize distractions and disconnect from the external world, so consider adding cushions, candles, incense, or any items that bring you peace.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to meditate in a specific posture. Whether seated cross-legged on the floor, reclining in a chair, or simply lying down, you just want to prioritize comfort (but be mindful of the potential to fall asleep if you choose to lie down). Maintaining an upright spine aids our breathing, but ultimately, choose a position that feels good to you.

Pick a Time Fits Suits Your Schedule, Then Stick to It

Consistency is key when starting a meditation routine, so select a time that aligns with your to-do list. Whether it’s in the morning to jumpstart your day or in the evening as a means of unwinding, establishing a regular meditation time and sticking to it trains your mind to seamlessly transition into a meditative state.

Start with Short Sessions

For newbies, long sessions can be tough to stick with. If you find yourself feeling restless (or your booty going numb), try beginning with brief sessions of about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, once you get comfortable, gradually extend the duration of time that you sit. It’s about quality over quantity, so focus on the depth of your practice rather than its length.

As you progress, aim for 15-30 minute sessions in the morning and evening. Following the traditional Ayurvedic approach, beginning the day with meditation consciously awakens the sense organs, while meditating at night aids in decompression before sleep.

Don’t Try to Silence Your Thoughts

Silencing thoughts isn’t the goal of meditation (and our brains aren’t wired for silence anyway). Instead, embrace the practice of observing your thoughts and allowing them to gently pass. A central practice of meditation is cultivating breath awareness. While your eyes are closed or in a soft gaze (you can meditate this way as well), concentrate on the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. If and when your mind wanders (because it will; this is a natural part of the practice), gently guide your attention back to your breath. This simple yet powerful technique is fundamental to many meditation practices.

Try Guided Meditation

If meditating on your own is challenging at first, consider starting with guided meditation. Numerous apps and online platforms like Headspace, Insight Timer, Calm, and the Chopra app, offer sessions led by experienced meditation instructors, providing structure and guidance. You may also consider working 1:1 with a meditation instructor or coach in a live session.

Remember — Mindfulness Is Meditation, Too

Beyond formal meditation sessions, infusing mindfulness into your daily activities can elevate your overall well-being. Mindfulness involves being fully present and in the moment, whether eating, walking, or engaging in routine tasks. This practice extends the benefits of meditation into every part of our lives, giving us access to peace and clarity — whenever, wherever (word to Shakira).

Steph R. Long is a Chopra-certified Ayurvedic health instructor, meditation instructor, and well-being coach. She’s also the founder of holistic wellness and coaching company SRL Well-Being and the former Deputy Director of Enterprise for Refinery29 Unbothered, where she oversaw health, wellness, and spirituality content. As a queer Black wellness practitioner who strives toward inclusivity, Steph centers BIPOC and QTBIPOC, who are often underserved by the wellness industry. Her commitment is to help everyone rediscover their inner wisdom, empowering each of her clients to cultivate self-awareness and lead vibrant, purposeful lives.

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Tips For Starting Your Meditation Practice, As Told By A Black Wellness Practitioner 
was originally published on
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