How Meditation Works and How to Get Started
Updated: Jan 30
Let's begin with a personal story. The first time I tried meditation I was 19, getting ready to go out on a Saturday night, and I only did it because I was feeling nervous about meeting my crush and hoped it would calm me down. 😅 #bless The second time I meditated I was 26. Yup, a whole 7 years later. 🙈 By that time meditation was becoming more mainstream and every magazine was saying how it was supposed to be good for you, so I declared to myself that from now on I will start meditating every day. After three days I was over it. Five minutes of meditating felt like an eternity and was just counting down the seconds until the timer finally ran. Only at 28, almost ten years after my first experience with meditation and on my fifth try, I finally got it and I've been meditating every day ever since (about 5 years now).
What I'm trying to say is, don't be discouraged if you try meditation and it's not landing for you immediately. In order to get into the practice of meditation and really stick with it, I find it helpful to:
1. know and understand why you're meditating and what are you trying to achieve with meditation - if it's because experts say it's good for you and you have no connection to it, you most likely won't keep doing it
2. see how meditation impacts your life: noticing a positive impact (feeling more centered, relaxed, clear, in tune with your intuition, and less reactive...) will encourage you to keep going until it becomes a normal part of your day
3. give yourself permission to try out every possible way of meditating so you know what you actually enjoy and then meditate in a way that feels the best to you
What is meditation
People describe it in many different ways, but in my definition, the practice of meditation is consciously coming back to the present moment and connecting with your essence. The present moment is the only moment that's available to us and that's where we can find answers beyond our mind and access our insights, intuition, and deeper truth.
Often, people innocently think that the goal of meditation is to try to not think and to only focus on the present moment for 15-30 minutes. And when they can't get "there" they get frustrated and give up. And who wouldn't, that's an incredibly difficult task, especially for a beginner!
There are lots of people in this world that have reached the place of pure presence beyond thought and can stay there for hours, but what I share with my clients is that it's not about staying there or being in a state where you don't think. Thoughts come and go and in my experience, it's harder to meditate if you're resisting your thoughts the whole time and trying to control them.
So I invite them to hold meditation that it's more a state of being where you get to observe your thoughts and become mindful of what you're thinking. And when you notice the seductive current of thoughts taking you with it again, keep on coming back to the present moment.
That being said, when you do get to a place where your mind is quiet and you're fully present, even if it's for a few seconds, that's the sweetest feeling in the world, the best natural high. It's like someone wrapped you up in a warm blanket and you are perfectly safe and taken care of. This feeling is always available to us, but it's easiest to access when our mind isn't active and we're rooted in the present moment.
Why meditation is one of the easiest & accessible tools to change your life
When it comes to creating sustainable changes in your life, I'm a huge fan of doing less so you're not overwhelmed, but doing things that really bring you the biggest transformations.
And meditation is absolutely one of them. I recommend every one of my clients to start incorporating meditation into their daily routine because I know the benefits it will have on their well-being + it's one of the small things we do daily and then all of a sudden we realize how deeply it changed our life.
Studies done on Buddhist monks, who have been practicing meditation over longer periods of time, showed that meditation permanently transforms the brain: it improves focus and concentration, supports skill acquisition, and supports less reactive emotional behaviors (Davidson 2008) and ease at generating compassion (Source).
And that's just the tip of the iceberg!
No wonder so many successful people meditate - Oprah, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Joe Rogan...
Unless we uncover the veil of limiting beliefs and thoughts and dedicate a portion of our day to ourselves, we're not able to see through our limitations, build our focus and reach our highest potential.
Let's dive deeper into just how meditation can change your life, so you are held in creating a beautiful daily meditation practice.
1️⃣ Meditation helps us (literally) reprogram the mind and create change in an easy way
When we meditate, our brains typically go into an alpha (light meditation) or theta (deep meditation) brainwave state. Now, what do these brainwaves have to do with anything?
During the day, we're normally in a beta state, which is when we're alert, use logic and critical reasoning, we're concentrated, solve problems, etc.
That's great, but if we stay in there too much, it can cause stress, anxiety, an inability to relax... In beta, we often run on autopilot and we're not able to access higher functioning or perform at our best, which is why we want to balance it out by intentionally tapping into other brainwaves, specifically alpha and theta because it's in those brainwaves that we're more present and relaxed. That allows us to access and reprogram the subconscious mind, where change happens more easily (Alyssa Nobriga, ICM).
Here is some great research on alpha and theta brainwaves, done by Alyssa Nobriga:
are present during deep relaxation, light daydreaming, light meditation
can help us reprogram the mind with affirmations and creative visualizations
allow us to access greater imagination, memory, learning, and concentration
we're in a calm + centered yet aware state, we can access the "flow state" from here, but we're still conscious
we can access them through deep meditation, hypnosis, in our dream state and also in the state when we're between asleep and awake (right before we fall asleep and right before we wake up)
take place when our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused inward -> the body is sleeping, but the mind is awake
this is our subconscious mind and it's the gateway to memory, learning, and intuition: perfect for deeper reprogramming of the mind, so we can facilitate a deeper transformation
2️⃣ Meditation helps us become more mindful and aware of our thoughts & limiting beliefs
Bill Gates shared this on his blog GatesNotes: "I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them."
When we meditate, we sloooow everything down and get to see our thoughts more clearly.
We realize that we can see our thoughts, but we are not our thoughts.
We're an observer of our thoughts.
And when we're not identified with the thoughts it's much easier to create change.
We can only change the thoughts and limiting beliefs we're aware of, so through meditation, we get to recognize which thoughts cause us pain (thoughts create emotions that create reactions that create outcomes) and reprogram them so they don't limit us anymore.
3️⃣ Meditation allows us to connect with ourselves
How often do you take time to be fully present with yourself? How many times do you tune in and listen to what you're going through, to what you need and want? How many times do you allow yourself to just be?
We're so used to offering the gift of our presence to everyone around us, but we forget about the most important person in our lives, who actually needs it the most: OURSELVES.
We are the parent/loving presence we've been looking for and meditation is such a beautiful way to be there with ourselves and for ourselves. It's an opportunity for us to mother/father the parts of us, shower them with love, and attention, and really listen.
This not only creates safety and security, but we increase the flow of love and compassion, which we so desperately look for everywhere else.
4️⃣ Meditation can help us heal
We know from research that "meditation offers wide-ranging physiological and psychological benefits. Meditation practices are associated with /.../ improvements in mental health condition severity, e.g., anxiety, depression, eating disorders" (Dispenza 2020), it helps calm down our nervous system and help us reduce stress, it improves sleep, helps control pain, can decrease blood pressure (Source), and and and....
🧘♀️ Which type of meditation is right for me?
There are lots of different meditation practices, so just experiment and see which one feels interesting and most enjoyable to you.
If you like to switch things up like me, you can try something different every day and if you like a routine, you can choose one way of meditating and stick to it for a while.
You can meditate by yourself or join a meditation circle or a meditation group (online or in your area).
recorded guided meditations, which allow us to focus on a particular topic (creating abundance, physical healing, confidence...)
recorded channeled meditations, which allow us to connect with our source / the universal energy
Various focusing meditations:
focusing on a mantra
focusing on our breath
focusing on a particular image (a flower, a flame, a blue light...)
meditating in silence and observing our thoughts
meditating to sound baths or sounds of nature
meditations with visualizations
meditations that ask powerful questions so we can access a deeper truth
How to get started with meditation
The best way to start is to pick one type of meditation that feels the most fun, motivating, attractive, and just go for it.
Here are a few tips so you can set yourself up for success in establishing a daily meditation ritual:
👉 a good place to start are recorded guided meditations from a spiritual/personal growth teacher that you admire / whose teachings resonate with you
👉 make it a priority and commit to meditating for just 5 minutes every day and test it out for 11 - 21 days (you can totally do this!)
👉 I absolutely recommend meditating first thing in the morning, right after you open your eyes because that's when you're still connected with yourself, your mind is still in theta and you haven't yet let in any of the outer world (social media, internet, radio, TV, news...)
👉 lower the bar for meditation and don't hold yourself to impossible standards: if you miss one day it's ok, just get back into it as soon as you can
👉 observe how your days go when you meditate vs when you don't and notice which type of meditation you enjoy most (this will motivate you to keep coming back!)
When it comes to the question of how long we should meditate: in my opinion, 15-20 minutes is perfect for regular daily practice and to access the theta brainwave state, but on busier days even 5 minutes is enough: that can help us ground & center ourselves and calm down our nervous system (alpha).
Personally, I like to do longer meditations (30 minutes to 1 hour) on special occasions or within spiritual or personal growth programs, but I really encourage you to see what works for you. Maybe you'll find that you really enjoy doing longer meditations - there are no rules, unless what feels good and supportive TO YOU.
Here are some of my own meditations that I recorded and regularly meditate to:
👉 Morning Meditation To Start The Day Connected & With Intention: https://youtu.be/m1K0BVA3PIE
👉 Meditation To Recharge & Replenish Your Energy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRhe_mxC27w
👉 Calming Meditation For Inner Peace: https://youtu.be/z1Jv5Qv8lyQ
👉 Meditation To Connect With Your Inner Wisdom: https://youtu.be/2Pzs2Qogezc
Try on different things until you find something that fits and most of all, make it your own: meditation is such a powerful gift you can give to yourself and an incredible investment of your time.
Do you meditate regularly? If yes, what helps and motivates you to come back to it every day? Share with us in the comments. 👇
With all my love & gratitude
Davidson RJ, Lutz A. Buddha's Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation. IEEE Signal Process Mag. 2008 Jan 1;25(1):176-174. doi: 10.1109/msp.2008.4431873. PMID: 20871742; PMCID: PMC2944261.
Article: What Do Brain Tap And Buddhist Monks Have I n Common
Alyssa Nobriga, Institute for Coaching Mastery, Study Materials
Article: Why I'm Into Meditation
P. Stapleton, J. Dispenza, S. McGill, D. Sabot, M. Peach, D. Raynor, Large effects of brief meditation intervention on EEG spectra in meditation novices, IBRO Reports, Volume 9, 2020, Pages 290-301, ISSN 2451-8301, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibror.2020.10.006.
Article: 12 Benefits Of Meditation