Meditation - 7 steps to get started ASAP
This guide is to help get you started with meditation quickly (within minutes). It's not a deep dive, but enough to get you going and to briefly answer the main questions we see coming up over and over again.
An important note on meditation, mental health and medication
Mental health - if you are dealing with a mental health condition beyond what is considered to be typical urban life levels of stress, anxiety etc - such as PTSD or a clinically diagnosed mental health condition - then generic non-specialist meditation may not be suitable for you and we strongly advise you to seek specialist guidance, which we currently do not offer. Please read NICE Guidelines: Common mental health problems identification and care.
Meditation has been proven to help with a number of mental health and medical conditions, but this must be overseen and administered directly to you by a specialist. If you think this applies to you please seek specialist help via your doctor. Your local mental health charity may also be able to offer guidance.
Medical - our M:U team, teachers, facilitators or ambassadors, do not diagnose, treat or offer advice for any medical or mental health conditions, and therefore we do not recommend any changes in medication or attitudes that could potentially worsen your condition.
Getting Started ASAP - 7 quick steps
1. It's completely fine to be guided by an audio track. In fact if you are new or inexperienced, we highly recommend it. You wouldn't start in the gym unguided, trying to figure it all out yourself, and nor should you with meditation.
2. Find a comfortable place to sit. On a chair with your feet on the floor and back supported is fine, your comfort is the most important thing. You can lie down, but if you think you're going to fall asleep then we don't recommend it.
3. Choose a guided meditation to listen to from the selection below. If you're new then the 5-10 minute options are a good place to start. Put headphones in and politely ask anyone you live with not to disturb you for 10-15 minutes. Turn off notifications and phone ringers.
4. Listen to the meditation, follow the instructions, don't worry if you are "doing it right" or not, don't worry if your mind drifts - it's all part of the "training". Noticing distraction, nd then bringing your attention gently back is the repetition that actually trains focus.
5. If you liked the meditation (the voice, the style, the pace, the music / silence, the content, how you felt) then you just found a mental workout track you like! If you didn't like it, then pick another to try and acknowledge you just did a mental workout you didn't like, but that you did the workout all the same and will benefit from it.
6. To emphasise that last point, the key to regular meditation is finding a style that you like and doing it at a time and in a way that you are going to do. Like many aspects of well-being, finding what works is personal and nuanced.
7. For any further queries please see the brief FAQs below. To go deeper, get our more detailed and more insightful (but still free) PDF guide.
You can meditate with both of Mind: Unlocked's Co-Founders right here. Bookmark this page so that you have access to it on demand. You can also find these meditations and more in our growing Free Guided Meditations Library.
A five minute reset with Niraj
Relax and deepen your breath with Jessica
Cultivate some (re)connection with Niraj
You can find these meditations and more in our growing Free Guided Meditations Library
Q: How should I sit?
A: Like exercise, different ways of physically meditating suit each person differently. Sitting on a chair with your back supported and feet on the floor is fine. Lying down is fine as long as you don't think you'll fall asleep. The most important thing is finding a comfortable position that you can stay relatively still in whilst you meditate. A perfect seated lotus position on the edge of a cliff or mountain is just for Instagram!
Q: How long should I meditate for?
A: If you're new to meditating then we recommend 5-10 minute sessions and building up from there. The positive benefits and ease of meditation build up gradually, like getting stronger from going to the gym.
Q: What's the best time of day to meditate?
A: Choose a time of day that integrates best with your lifestyle, situation and habits. It's different for everyone. There is no one best time.
Q: I’ve tried meditating before but thoughts kept coming up in my head. Is that normal or can I just not meditate?
A: Often we think meditating requires us to "clear our minds" or "stop our thoughts" when that's not necessarily the case. It's very normal for thoughts to keep coming up during meditation, especially when starting out. A goal of meditation is not to control your thoughts, it's to stop them from controlling you.
Q: Do I need any special equipment to meditate?
A: Meditation doesn’t require fancy or special equipment. To get going you just need a relatively calm, comfortable space to sit or lie in and an internet-enabled device to access guided meditations.
We hope that's been a useful guide to quickly get you started. For deeper insight and more detailed answers we highly recommend our free 10 step PDF guide.