The internet – especially YouTube – is packed with videos on how to meditate. But where do you start when you're a beginner to meditation? What different approaches do these videos have? And are they really helpful to start or further develop your meditation practice? Well, the answer is yes; yes they are useful! So, here are our top six picks on the best videos around if you're searching how to meditate as a beginner.
There are many introduction videos, or 'Meditation 101' videos to be found on YouTube. One of the most accessible is How to Meditate on the watchwellcast channel. This channel consists of videos that give instructions on how to do 100 different wellness exercises in 100 days. Noteworthy topics covered in these other videos include how to be grateful, how to do yoga, how to stop procrastinating, how to apologize, and how to sleep better.
It comes with a pleasant, but slightly quirky female voice-over, made for absolute beginners to meditation. It explains what meditation does – creating focus to the mind and training the brain – and goes over some of the scientifically-backed benefits of meditation: better mood, less physical pain, more blood flow to the brain, and lower blood pressure, etc.
The main emphasis of the video is a step-by-step guided introductory meditation of counting the breath. Although not mentioned in the video itself, this form of meditation is the basis of vipassana, or insight mediation. Within the span of 100 seconds, this beginner's meditation video will guide you in doing your first practice.
And, according to the video, by doing this form of meditation for just ten minutes every day you'll start reaping the benefits. If not, you can try another form or technique. For an absolute beginner, this how-to video is really all you need to get yourself started with meditation.
It gives you some easy and compelling reasons to do so, and explains simply and clearly what technique to use. After doing this form of meditation for a while, or when you've become more versed in meditation techniques, you'll probably need deeper material. Either by developing vipasanna further, or moving on to other forms.
A more in-depth and longer introductory video on how to meditate is How to Meditate – the No Bullshit Guide to Meditation by Leo Gura of Actualised.org. His popular YouTube channel deals with many different meditation, self-improvement and self-actualization topics.
In this beginner's video, Leo talks on-camera at length about his own journey in his practice, and about the benefits of meditation for creating happiness in the present moment. Leo focuses more on the brain health benefits of meditation, ranging from increased productivity and creativity, to the melting of the ego, and the holy grail of meditation: attaining enlightenment.
Leo then goes on to briefly mention different techniques of meditation, before further elaborating on a mindfulness of the breath meditation. He gives clear instructions how to perform this basic meditation, ranging from setting a timer for your practice, how and where to sit, to how to deal with the inevitable thoughts that will come up as you try to keep focused on your breath.
Leo also stresses the importance of creating a daily practice and emphasizes that some of the benefits of mediation will come only months or years after you've started. He mentions the importance of having a clear goal and vision on why to meditate as well, for what it can do for your life. And by sharing his personal reasons, he encourages us to formulate similar goals and vision to our own meditation practice.
“Leo also stresses the importance of creating a daily habit of your meditation practice. He emphasizes that some of the benefits will come only months or years after you've started.”
This video is targeted to basically the same people as the first video: beginners that want to start with meditation. The biggest difference between the videos is the amount of time that Leo spends in explaining the scientific background, his own journey, and the process of meditation. If you prefer a more in-depth approach, and being challenged more about your motivations to meditate, then this video could be a better place to start.
For people that already have a meditation practice of vipasanna and are looking for a new beginner's technique, Easy Mantra Meditation by the Yoga Vidya organization is an excellent choice. Yoga Vidya is a leading non-profit yoga seminar provider that facilitates retreats in northern Europe.
© YouTube/Easy Mantra Meditation
In this video, a female practitioner (with male voice-over) demonstrates the basic and easy-to-follow steps to get you started with Om mantra meditation. The difference between Om mantra meditation and a breath meditation lies mostly in the focus that we create in our minds, either on the mantra or on the breath.
However, the result is the same: that we observe the sensations and thoughts that arise in non-judgmental awareness. A nice addition to this practice is the emphasis on positive affirmations at the end of the meditation that the video guides you through. As a first start in mantra meditation, this clip is a great start.
“The difference between Om mantra meditation and a breath meditation lies mostly in the focus that we create in our minds.”
If you want to dive deeper in mantra meditations for beginner's, then there are more mantra-based meditation videos to be found on this channel. And if the way of instruction of the video appeals to you, then as an added benefit it could open up your practice to include yoga, to be found in other videos on this organization’s channel.
Based on Vedic traditions, this method was developed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been made famous by practitioners as diverse as The Beatles, Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, and Russell Brand. What exactly it consists of involves personalized mantras that you have to pay for in training sessions by authorized teachers, although there have been criticisms of this.
In the video a male voice-over takes us through the steps of this form of meditation. It has a static picture of a meditating man on screen as the only visual element. The transcript of the video is listed directly below the video. It might be just as insightful as looking at the video itself, especially since both video and transcript explain how to choose your mantra.
“Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been made famous by practitioners as diverse as The Beatles, Oprah Winfrey and David Lynch.”
It also explains the steps of the practice, that take much longer than just watching the video. The main essence of Transcendental Meditation, getting to the “no-thought zone” is addressed: how to recognize it, stay in it, or reconnect to it. It's this same “no-thought zone” that Deepak Chopra calls the field of pure potentially, or pure consciousness.
The video itself is not the best. But for people that are attracted to TM, having a free beginner's introduction in working with this mantra technique might be all they ever need, instead of having to pay the high fees. Plus, other videos that also explain the technique for free will show up in your suggested videos on YouTube.
For people that want to explore another technique, based on metta, or loving-kindness meditation, the video '10-Minute Guided Meditation for Self-Compassion' is a nice place to start. This video is published by Sonima, a wellness brand that empowers people to live healthy, balanced, and happy lives. Self-compassion meditation as a technique has been made famous by the American researcher Kristin Neff, who in turn drew her inspiration from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn.
This is technically not a how-to-meditate video, but, in fact, a guided meditation. It's narrated by Jamie Zimmerman, a doctor and practitioner of “meditation medicine” that tragically died in an accident two years ago. There's no visual instruction on how to sit or go through the practice. This guided visualisation meditation, with imagery of nature, people, and wildlife, presumes that you have sat before, that you're already versed in mindfulness of the breath meditation.
It takes you through steps in visualizing children at different ages. Projecting your memory of yourself at these different ages. It invites you to use the same words of affirmation that are used in metta meditation, to send wishes of well-being: happiness, love, peace, a life free from suffering and living to the fullest.
If you've never practiced metta meditation and self-compassion meditation before, this video is a great start for beginner's. Especially if you meditate a lot within the vipassana tradition, it can be a real eye-opener on how loving-kindness and self-compassion can further deepen your practice. Sonima states that the video is especially suitable for people that are working on making life changes or personal improvements.
Still not convinced that you should dive into meditation yourself? Then you might want to watch '10 Reasons You Should NEVER Meditate'. This playful and funny video made by psychologist, life coach and author Ralph Smart, gives you ten great reasons why you should (not) meditate.
YouTube/Infinite Waters (Diving Deep)
Ralph discusses on-camera some of the benefits of meditation. It ranges from how meditation changes the brain and the way we eat, to how meditation makes you let go of judgment and makes you stop ruminating and blaming yourself. He does all of this in a very mindful, light-hearted and insightful way.
Although not a 'how to' video itself, this is a great beginner's video if you first need to be convinced that meditation is something for you. The promise of meditation, that Ralph stresses as well, is that it makes you live fully in the present moment and makes you more confident. And, that ultimately, it makes you happier. Now isn’t that something you would NEVER want for yourself? ●
Main image: Colourbox.com
Arlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
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