A Beginner’s Guide To Meditation

Finding time to relax is a struggle for many. We underestimate our need to unwind and decompress, and our busy lives sometimes make it impossible. But, 5-10 minutes a day can really go a long way toward forming new habits for healthier well-being.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is defined as a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, breath, or movement. It’s an ancient Chinese tradition that was initially applied for religious purposes. But, there are so many benefits to meditation that it has become a much more common practice across the globe.

Meditation can help with:

  • Stress management
  • Pain relief
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia
  • Improving focus
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Breaking addiction

Meditation also is a way for people to relax and be mindful and in tune with yourself and your surroundings. It uses slow and controlled breathing, in which you direct air into your abdomen instead of your chest (chest breathing can trigger the stress response).

Where do you begin?

Choose a time of day that works best for you, and practice meditation each day at that same time.
Begin with an open mind—free of judgment of yourself and your thoughts. As your thoughts stray (as they do in those new to meditation), just bring your focus back to your breath. You’ll find that your focus gets better with a regular meditation practice.
I like to tell beginners to start with a class setting to prevent the distractions that can pop up at home and helps you focus on the instructor’s voice. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, you’ll be able to meditate anywhere.

Finding a practice you enjoy:

It’s important to find a type of meditation you like. You may have to try different ways to meditate to see what works best for you. If you choose to meditate outside of your home, find an instructor who is patient and willing to work with you. As you become more seasoned in your practice, you can experiment with other forms of meditation. It’s a very personal experience, so no two people will have the same exact response.

General meditation guidelines to follow:

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be distracted—no phones or laptops.
  • Set a timer to ensure you aren’t worried about how long you’re meditating. Start
    with 5 minutes, then build to 10, then to 15 minutes or even longer.
  • Frequency is important to become proficient and maximize the effect. It can become a daily
    practice or even several times daily.
  • Make sure you’re in a comfortable position: cross-legged, sitting in a chair, or even walking.
  • Try adding aromatherapy or essential oils, such as lavender, bergamot or ylang ylang, to help you relax and calm down.
  • Consider adding calming/relaxing music to your routine to maximize the effect.

The idea is to focus to the point where you no longer notice the things around you. It may help to recall relaxing images, but it’s important to avoid mental chatter and/or be distracted by your thoughts and worries.

For more information about stress management and practicing/teaching meditation, see Robyn Caruso’s courses on the FCEA continuing education platform.

Robyn Caruso, B.A., CHES, smes, cpt

Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals™. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Rowan University in Health Promotion and Fitness Management. She is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer and group fitness instructor, a Certified Health Education Specialist by (NCHEC), and a Compassion Fatigue Resiliency and Recovery – Educator.
Robyn is an industry expert for the MedFit Network and MedFit Education Foundation Advisory Board Member, adjunct professor for Camden County College and Personal Training Advisory Board Member. Robyn is also a founding member of the Fitness Continuing Education Alliance (FCEA). She has taken the Mindfulness – Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) through Jefferson University Hospital for Mindfulness. She has been in the fitness industry for 16 years in medical based fitness.
Robyn is the author of Stress Management Exercise Specialist 1st edition, Holistic Stress Management Specialist 1st edition and Holistic Stress Management Consultant 1st edition.

By working in the fitness industry, health and fitness professionals have the privilege of helping clients on a daily basis. When you take one of our specialty courses you are an important part of the healthcare continuum. On average 77% of individuals feel the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of stress. Corporations spend approximately 3 billion a year on doctor visits and absenteeism.

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