Meditation for beginners

Always wondered how to meditate? Now might be the perfect time to start.


Meditation for beginners

Always wondered how to meditate? Now might be the perfect time to start.

By WE Staff

As COVID-19 emerges as the largest global health crisis in a century, the need for physical distancing is creating its own storm of stress and anxiety. Friends and family are suddenly out of reach, and some of our personal self-care routines are unavailable to us. The gym is shuttered. The bookstore is closed. Even the playground swings are bound with yellow caution tape. We’ve been advised to stay indoors, to isolate, to be patient and try to stay positive. It’s a tall order. But it’s not impossible.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to double down on self-care, to reach for new tools for building resilience and nurturing our well-being. Fortunately, one of these tools is close at hand. It might finally be time to try meditation.

The following tips are adapted from The WE Well-being Playbook, a hands-on guide filled with everyday tools, actions and tactics to nurture your mental well-being and the well-being of others. You can download it here for free.

Meditation can seem intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Some people instinctively believe it’s not for them. Our lives are so frenetic that sitting still and focusing on our internal world can feel counter-productive, even self-indulgent. That’s because meditation is a form of self-kindness and, oddly enough, being kind to yourself is hard work.

If you’re new to meditating, or still skeptical, here are some simple steps to help you get started.

In this beginner meditation, we’ll try sending a wish for well-being to yourself and others (something you’ve likely been doing already for several weeks). You’ll need a quiet corner and a few minutes to spare.

  • Find a place to sit comfortably.
  • Start by paying attention to your breathing, feeling your breath move in and move out.
  • Rest in the quiet, repeating a small wish for yourself.

Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg suggests repeating a simple phrase like this: “May I be peaceful and happy.” You can use any words you like.

Building on this technique, you can make a wish for others, shifting the focus from “me” to “we.”

  • Begin to pay attention to your breathing.
  • After a minute or two, bring to mind someone that you love, or someone who is having a hard time (maybe it’s the same person).
  • Picture your person.
  • Now, each time you breathe out, dedicate that breath—and a good wish—to that person. You can add words like: “May you be peaceful and happy.” Use any words you like.

There’s a good chance that this will feel weird at first, but it gets easier, and it’s worth the effort. Research shows that even a few minutes of this practice can enhance your well-being and sense of gratitude and hope—something we all need right now. * For information on mental health resources and support in your community, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association.