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How To Meditate For Beginners: Sleep Better, Reduce Stress and Anxiety

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Dec 14
meditation for beginners

Nothing could be easier than meditation, right? You simply close your eyes and watch your breath. Rather than fall asleep, you immediately plunge into deeper and deeper states of profound presence where you find yourself one with God and the Universe. NOT.

If you are like most of us, you envy the people who find it effortless to meditate. They have a form of bliss that could pass for ecstasy, or some other illegal drug.

You have little or no time for such leisurely pursuits. Whether school or career, you’ve got to get ahead. Earn a living first… then get a life.

Why You Need Meditation Now More Than Ever

For most of us living in major metros, life has never been so stressful, accelerating at such a frantic pace. Not only do we need to work longer and harder just to break even, but we also need to keep up with all the news, now in dozens of channels and devices.

Rather than newspaper, radio and TV, we have cable, satellite, mobile and social. If you aren’t plugged in, you’re not exactly with it.

World events can seem precarious, what with terrorism, climate change and perpetual gyrations of the stock market. We need a place to retreat, but it is harder and harder in the city. Your best bet is a local park, as long as it’s not too hot or cold, and you feel safe.​

You know you need to exercise more, get out and meet people, as well as relax. But how do you truly relax? You’ve heard of meditation. You’ve seen the practice of yoga booming across the nation. But when you tried to do it all in the past, it just didn’t work for you.

In fact, you tried to do it on your own, but could not understand or track your progress. So, what’s the best way to meditate for beginners?​

Keep reading… because we’ll show you how to jump-start this process successfully right out of the gate and enjoy the journey along the way.

How Biofeedback Has Transformed Learning to Meditate

Biofeedback technology enables electronic devices to monitor physiological processes and thereby enable people to consciously regulate what happens within their body and their mind.

Medical scanning has been available for nearly a hundred years, but was restricted to hospitals, institutes and clinics. It was heavy, bulky and very expensive. Only professionals had access to it.

In the 1970’s, biofeedback emerged as an alternative form of meditation, but was expensive and available only in very limited contexts. You needed to work with professionals, and there was no way you could take it out in the streets.​

With the computer revolution, devices went from mainframe to desktop to laptop to mobile device. Computing power went up exponentially with the crunching power to execute the most exotic tasks.

In addition, sensor technology boomed and became ubiquitous. With the proliferation of mobile devices, such as the new Apple Watch, the time was ripe to open up meditation to the world.​

Meditating the Traditional Way

In ancient times, you were introduced to meditation only if you belonged to an exclusive class and were a young male being initiated for years by a rishi, or forest sage. In India, you were taught to chant Sanskrit, and then had to orally memorize long texts, such as the Vedas.

At some point, the guru would give his apprentice a sacred name, and have him repeat it again and again in a softer and softer voice, until the boy could close his eyes and do it in silence.​

meditation-tips

I took the TM initiation decades ago. It was a short process where I went to the center in Berkeley, California, sat down in a chair, surrounded by flowers, candles and incense.​

The young instructor there briefly described the process, had me close my eyes and repeat my own special sacred name out loud, and then keep repeating it silently. He then congratulated me as a practitioner and promptly collected $75, which, at that time, was a substantial donation.

That was it. No follow up. No counseling.

I was thrown out on my own. I practiced it religiously morning and evening for several weeks, read a book or two on the subject, and then, somehow, it all dried up. I went on with my life, but couldn’t quite get back into the groove. (I did remember my original mantra, but ended up experimenting with others.)​

Contemporary Meditation: Faster, Easier and a Lot More Fun

Today, with the online and mobile revolution, it is possible to get a meditation instructor who can get inside your head and watch your brainwaves.

She can help you move from the normal, frontal lobe beta waves, to the more relaxed, dreamy and creative alpha waves. She pinches you when you are in beta, and pats you on the back when you are in alpha.​

Real-time biofeedback with multiple sensors on a mobile device is now out of the laboratories and on the market.

guided mediation

The software has been written to take you on the seashore to hear the gentle sound of waves, and then hear strong winds blow when you are all caught up in your monkey mind.​

When you let go, you begin to hear enchanting birds singing, welcoming you into the magical land of alpha.​

When you let go, you begin to hear enchanting birds singing, welcoming you into the magical land of alpha.​

You can choose the method of meditation, whether mantra, candle or breath, but the device guides you along in several sessions to the point where you begin to get it, much like learning to ride a bicycle.

You eventually get a handle on what to do to calm down the monkey mind, if not shut it down entirely.​

Introducing Muse – The Brain Sensing Headband from InteraXon

Muse meditation headband

Back in 2012, a group of Canadians pioneered a new concept in biofeedback through funding from Indiegogo. They had recruited top people on their advisory board, such as Dean Ornish, M.D. of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Jui Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab.

Rather than offer bulky, expensive equipment that had to be plugged into a wall, they built a system with elegant, stylish earphones that you might see in a movie like The Matrix, with three sensors in front and two on the sides, monitoring EEG, or electroencephalography.​

Using Bluetooth, you connect to your smart phone or tablet, be it Apple’s iPhone or iPad, or Android device. You pair the earphone with the device and calibrate your thoughts by mentally repeating a list that Muse provides you.​

You first hear an ocean, then winds, as per the amplitude of your brain waves. Upon quieting down, you hear the call of birds. You can select multiple soundscapes, and you have four channels to play with.

meditation process displayed

You get colorful screens with graphics that monitor your progress and score your session, which is timed from three to 20 minutes. The rechargeable battery is good for five hours and has five flashing LED’s on the right side, using a Micro USB cable.​

In addition, the device is gamified to make it fun and addictive in a good sort of way.

You can compete with yourself, as you watch yourself get better and better each session. You are rewarded with points and medals, and special screens that open up when you have achieved a certain level.

Since Muse was first introduced in early 2013 at the Consumer Electronic Show, it has been continuously refined with the pricing available as low as US$259.​

Muse enjoys hundreds of satisfied reviews with people having serious conditions, such as PTSD, being helped through it; although InteraXon scrupulously avoids calling it is a medical device.

Hospital and research institutions are now testing it as a possible adjunct to therapy for serious conditions.​

meditative awareness

Let’s have a closer look at some of its Pros and Cons:

Pros:​

  • This meditation device makes it easy and effective for both a beginner and someone who has been practicing meditation for some time.
  • It comes with both hardware and application.
  • Very affordable, since most neurofeedback professional devices are way over $1,000.
  • The reason most of us have such a hard time meditating is because we lose focus (where our string of thoughts are constantly dragging us down the rabbit hole…and that’s where it all gets out of control). The beauty of this device (Muse) is that it’s designed to measure your ability to place your focus on your breath, to keep it there, and to bring it back when your mind wanders.
  • The beginner will easily hone the most basic skill in meditation in no time (which is placing one’s whole attention on an object) and advance from there.
  • No risk policy with 30-day return policy and a guarantee on the hardware for a full year.

Cons:

  • A bit of patience will be required. Since the software (the app) takes a baseline before each session, you will have to adjust / calibrate all seven sensors every time before you set out to meditate; otherwise it can throw off the reading.
  • Built in batteries last a decent amount of time, but their charge indicator lacks accuracy. After a certain point, batteries begin impacting reading accuracy. However, you can avoid this issue by re-charging every time it gets to be used up half way.
  • If you choose an Apple device, you need to have the latest iOS, otherwise you will not be able to use the app.

Why Wait? It’s Never Been So Easy to Master Meditation for Beginners

For less than the cost of a high-end pair of wireless earphones, you can pick up an attractive, fun and easy-to-use digital headband that just might change your life.

Over a decade ago, encouraged by reading Yoga magazine and books of Dr. Deepak Chopra, I improvised my own unique style of meditation morning and evening that woke me up spiritually in a way I never could have imagined, and improved my life both physically and psychologically.

I more or less stumbled on my own form of meditation. I most certainly didn’t have an option so compelling as Muse.​

If I were to start all over again, now with powerful, attractive mobile devices and easy-to-use software, I would take full advantage of Muse. You can actually share it with different members of your family.

You might even feel sufficiently inspired as to make a gift of it to cherished friends. Especially, if they walk around all stressed out and overwhelmed.

“No time” may have been a credible excuse for not learning to meditate in the past. Not anymore. This could be the best investment in yourself you ever make.

And now, you can easily integrate meditation into your daily life.

Keep in mind, that there is a direct correlation between your mental health and physical health. You should NOT look at them as two separate practices. Both of them are equally important, since they support and feed of each other.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. That way, we, and all the other Conscious Owls, can benefit from your experience.​

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About the Author

One conscious owl to another... sharing what we learned over the years, and from many wise owls before us.