Practicing mindfulness: meditation techniques for beginners

meditating 10 minutes a day

The Slice:  On our busiest days, we can easily forget to make time for ourselves. Though I’d never meditated before, I challenged myself to practice meditation everyday for a week. The results changed my life.

The Challenge: Meditate for at least 10 minutes everyday.

Difficulty Level: medium level difficulty

If we ever met, you would realize that I’m a mile-a-minute talker, and that’s usually because my mouth is trying to keep up with my brain. I’m all thoughts, all the time. I constantly switch tasks, I easily lose focus, and I have had my bouts with anxiety.

While I have long known the benefits of meditation – reduced stress, increased concentration, better decision-making – and have always wanted to try it, I’ve been hesitant to sit with my thoughts. Could I even do it? Where to begin?

Back up. Why can’t I just drink wine?

Not only does meditation make you feel better, but it literally changes the composition of your brain. People who meditate have increased gray matter in various regions of the brain that control our senses, decision-making and memory.

In fact, our frontal cortex’s shrink with age, which is why our ability to remember things declines as we get older. Long-term meditators in their 50s had the same amount of gray matter as young people in their 20s. (So you could kind of say it reverses aging!)

Making a conscious effort to meditate daily – even 10 minutes – allows us to prioritize ourselves, take a deep breath, and reflect on how we’re feeling.

Rookie mistakes

guided meditation headspace app
To get started, I downloaded
 Headspace, an app that offers guided meditation for those of us who don’t know what we’re doing. Level 1, the 10 day series I started with, is free and the animations are cute, too. Other popular meditation apps include Calm and Mindfulness App.

The first morning, I sat upright, closed my eyes and meditated for about 10 mins – except I forgot to push play! I missed out on all of the instructions. Still, without even using the added benefit of the app, I quickly realized why people do this! Frankly, it changed the pace of my entire morning. I worked out before work, grabbed a coffee, showered, and made it to work on time – and felt amazing for the entire day.

From then on, I remembered to push play every morning and followed the guided meditation. The app told me exactly what I needed to do, which I found to be more a bit more difficult than going it alone, but also, much more rewarding because it gave me a much better understanding of meditation as a practice. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to meditation techniques.

The hardest part of building this habit is making the time to do it. I missed Saturday’s morning meditation — admittedly,  because I was running late for a lash-extension appointment. Luckily, the process required that I keep my eyes closed for two hours. Still counts, right?

I’m only a few days into this journey, but I’ve noticed a huge change in how I feel and my productivity.  I’m motivated, focused and addicted.

It looks like this is a habit that’s going to stick.

Andrea Aldana is (usually) Your Daily Apple’s finance contributor. She would now rather be late to work than miss a morning meditation session.

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