During high school, I craved Thursday mornings. While most kids were pressing the snooze button on their alarm clocks, I was alert and at school long before the first bell would ring. A few friends of mine started a Yoga Club and were desperate for new members – so I decided to give it a try. They recruited a lovely local yoga teacher to donate her time for our weekly sessions, and we all would pile into the stinky high school wrestling room for class. The lights were dim, the music was soft, and all the stress of college applications and high school drama seemed to just melt away.
But what I remember the most was the incredible meditation time at the end of each session. I was raised in a southern Catholic household and didn’t have an inkling about meditation or anything truly spiritual. I was entirely disconnected from my body and my own sense of self, so this yoga and meditation sequence was truly transcendental. I felt like I came alive during those morning sessions and I would carry those peaceful feelings with me throughout the rest of the day.
Fast forward 8 years and I still very much consider myself a beginner when it comes to meditation.
I’ll meditate for 15-20 minutes once a week or so, but most of the time I find my mind start to wander and I begin thinking about how old the avocados are in my fridge, or how cute that YouTube video was with that baby and puppy.
The fast pace of New York City seems to leave my nerves frazzled and my head spinning; I need meditation now more than ever!
So I thought it would be a neat experiment to try some different types of meditation and share my findings. Whether you are brand new to meditation, or you want to spice up your beginner routine, here are my honest opinions about some basic meditation techniques.
Each technique will be rated in 4 different categories: Feel Good Factor (how much of an impact it had on my mood and general wellbeing), Time, Lasting Results (how long I was able to maintain a heightened sense of inner-peace after the meditation), and Overall Score. Each category will be rated on a scale of 0-10.
Meditation allows us to connect to our source, diffuse our stress and revive our souls. Although meditation can clear our minds, it even more importantly allows us to access our true inspiration.
So don’t fret – check out the guide below to see what type of meditation practice might be right for you.
If you are short on time, you might like…
These mini online meditations are just what the doctor ordered when you are short on time (or attention span)!
They are guided and are a great tool for beginners who can’t seem to slow their racing thoughts.
I like to pull up the site on my phone, plug in my earphones, and sneak in a little meditation whenever I can, as most of the videos are only 2-6 minutes long.
Of course, because they are so great for on-the-go, it can be hard to shut off reality; all it takes is one incoming text message to ruin your concentration.
Deepak has many videos where he recites spiritual poems, but my favorite is the meditation below:
I personally love Deepak’s meditations, but you can also find endless free guided meditation resources on Youtube as well.
Free online meditations oftentimes lack quality or length, but they are a great beginner’s resource to find out what type of meditation you prefer.
Feel Good Factor: 4 – Each meditation was a little too short for my liking. Just as I was starting to relax and let go, the meditation was over! I did 5 mini meditations, adding up to about 16 minutes total.
Time: 2 – If you are short on time, these meditations are PERFECT. Who says you can’t meditate on a crowded bus?! However, if you are looking for a life-altering, inspiring meditation session… you might want to pick something a little bit more in-depth.
Lasting Results: 6 – For such a short duration, I felt really great afterwards. It’s amazing how little time it can take to reap the benefits of this practice.
Overall Rating : 4 – A wonderful free tool to use as a guide. Personally, I enjoy something a little deeper. I highly recommend these videos for newbies who are having a hard time releasing their thoughts. These meditations pack a mighty punch in just a few centered minutes.
If Affirmations are more your thing, you might like…
Guided Meditation Audio:
For this type of meditation, I listened to 3 of Gabrielle Bernstein’s meditations from her “May Cause Miracles” Meditation Album.
I’m addicted to Gabrielle Bernstein’s vlogs, but I had never bought any of her products before, let alone any type of guided meditation CD!
Each meditation on this CD is about 6-8 minutes long and categorized by topic, which is very useful.
For this guide, I picked the “Body Love Meditation” (Perfect for the Mind, Body, & Soultiply Quest, amiright?!), “Love & Kindness Meditation” (Also perfect for Soultiply’s #MonthlyMantra series last month, which was “Love is the answer to EVERYTHING”), and the “Receiving Abundance Meditation”.
In short, these tracks felt more like affirmations-played-to-music, rather than any type of guided meditation I had tried in the past.
But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t flippin’ awesome! I loved them! They were all so unique.
The “Body Love Meditation” pumped me up and gave me a great rush of confidence. The “Love & Kindness Meditation” (the most traditional guided meditation of the 3 that I sampled) was incredible; I swear I had the biggest grin plastered across my face the entire time. I can only imagine how I must have been glowing! And the “Receiving Abundance Meditation” literally brought tears to my eyes. It resonated with me so deeply, I can’t wait to incorporate it into a regular part of my meditation practice.
Using Guided Meditation audio is a great way to explore different topics and specific areas near and dear to your heart, so I suggest it to anyone who wants to meditate on a certain issue or area in their life.
Feel Good Factor: 8 – I was in an AWFUL mood before I started these meditations. Part of me wondered if it would even be possible to meditate in such a crappy mood, but I was sort of excited for the challenge. Could these audio tracks really manage to lift my spirits?
I was ASTONISHED by how they were able to turn my mood around! I felt great and they really helped me let go of the negativity I had been feeling just 15 minutes prior.
Time: 5 – These tracks are a bit longer than Deepak’s mini meditations online, which I like. I still wish that they were a bit longer on each topic, but at least you can use several different meditations together (like I did by picking 3) to cater the session to the length you prefer.
Lasting Results: 7 – Without these meditations, I’m pretty sure I would have been a grumpy-pants all evening. Instead, I was able to salvage my night and see the bright side to all the circumstances in my life. Since they are affirmation based, I imagine they only continue to resonate and improve your life over time. Because you own the CD, you can access it any where you can listen to your own audio – which means you won’t have to rely on an internet connection for a bit of inspiration!
Overall Rating: 8 – I really can’t wait to try the other meditations on the CD. The quality was top-notch and they really resonated with me.
If you are looking for a relaxing album, this might not be your cup of tea. Some of the background music was upbeat, which was an interesting choice for a meditation CD. I kind of liked it though; who says meditation can’t be invigorating?
I wish they were a bit longer, and I wish there was a bit more guidance on each track, but for $8.99 (for the mp3 version) or $9.98 (for audio CD) it’s a solid choice for a meditation album that you can utilize over and over again.
UPDATE: I’ve tried all the meditation tracks on the CD now and I’m ADDICTED. They are all so wonderful and inspiring in their own way.
I think I would have to say that the “Love & Kindness Meditation” is still my favorite!
As an extra tip, I found that I love to pull the meditation CD up on my phone or computer, set it to “shuffle” and trust that the meditation that plays next is exactly what I need to hear in that moment. It works WONDERS every time!
If you like to multi-task, you might like…
Mixed Yoga & Meditation Class:
Tonight I took my first Kundalini Yoga class at Golden Bridge Yoga in New York City.
And boy was it a brilliant experience!
If you are unfamiliar with Kundalini Yoga, (like I was only a few short days ago!), here is a really great beginners guide that can be found on the Golden Bridge Yoga website. Kundalini yoga is a spiritual yoga practice that focuses on awareness, compassion, and inner-truth.
Walking into the studio, I felt nervous and very much a newbie. I had no clue if I was even supposed to bring my mat, if I had dressed appropriately, or ANYTHING!
Contrary to what I expected, the staff wasn’t all that friendly or inviting, so I felt pretty lost. I ended up asking this random girl if she thought this was a good class for beginners and talking with her for a few moments put me at ease.
As I ended up learning, anything goes with Kundalini Yoga. The class was basic yoga meets guided meditation meets chanting & poses.
I didn’t know many of the chants, but I loved how the meditation and mantra flowed throughout the yoga sequence.
It felt refreshing; you won’t find any Lululemon-clad, cardi-yogis here.
They had pillows and blankets for your use, and the entire focus was on relaxation and deeper connection to self.
I happened to take my class on the first day of the new moon in Virgo (did you know that was thing? I sure didn’t!) and it felt nice to find out what that meant and how it informed my meditation.
A yoga & meditation class would be perfect for someone who gets bored easily and wants a little bit more “action” to go along with their meditation practice. Who says you can’t exercise your body and soul at the same time!?
Feel Good Factor: 6 – I think my nerves got the best of me, because I really didn’t know what to expect. However, I felt very relaxed and centered after the class. My sense of commitment to my purpose feels renewed and I can tell that those feelings are going to stick around for a while.
You know the one thing that I’m not too fond of? Having to take the subway home after class, where one loud, screeching train car almost unraveled an hour’s worth of peace and concentration.
Time: 8 – Like I said, I love longer meditations. The class was an hour and a half and it felt like 20 minutes. It moves quickly, and since you do yoga, meditation, and chants – there is never a dull moment.
Lasting Results: 5 – Like I said, the commute home (especially in New York City) makes it hard to stay in the Kundalini zone for very long. They have locations in Los Angeles & Santa Monica though, so I would love to go when I visit. I’m proud of myself for trying something new and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I learned a lot about Kundalini yoga too, which was interesting and a great experience.
Overall Rating : 6 – I really liked it and would try it again for sure. I think next time I will feel more confident and won’t be so self-conscious, which would help the overall experience.
But the beautiful thing was, even though I felt out of place at the beginning and I was not as “hard-core” as some of these Kundalini yogis…I realized this: Your inner-guidance is always with you. It’s not like my intuition was born out of this particular yoga class – I can tap into it anytime, anywhere, and I have done so many times before. Remembering that my guides are always with me, even in new situations where I feel out of place, made me feel at ease and helped me realize that I was not alone in this. Once I got comfortable, the class was interesting and a unique experience.
Not to mention, I’m going to be SORE AS HELL tomorrow morning!
If you want to build your strength, take care of your body and soul, and meditate at the same time – at $12, this class might be a perfect option.
If you like to keep it simple, you might like…
Meditation by Yourself:
This is your most traditional, bare-bones type of meditation. It doesn’t take any fancy audio tracks or classes; nothing but yourself and a mind that is willing to release and let go.
Prior to trying out some of the other techniques I’ve reviewed, this was the only type of meditation that I would do on a regular basis.
For me, I find it helpful and relaxing to create a sacred space for meditation. This could include anything that is meaningful to you and puts you in a relaxed state of mind. Or maybe it’s a particular location, like in your favorite outdoor spot near nature.
For my home meditation space, I have some beautiful mason jars that I hand-dyed, some aromatherapy candles, and some beautiful gemstones. Creativity is an essential and sacred part of my daily life, so I like to include it in my meditation space. If you want to make your own dyed jars, here is the tutorial that I used.
Lately I’ve gone total hippie and started to develop a little obsession with crystals and gemstones. I picked out several that I considered absolutely beautiful and meaningful to me and they are an incredible addition to my little piece of sacred paradise. I got mine here, and couldn’t be happier.
I’m still cultivating my sacred space and I have quite a wish list!
I would love to get some mala meditation beads (these from Tiny Devotions are absolutely lovely!).
Like I said, your sacred space is completely up to you. Anything you create should come straight from the soul and should help you reconnect to your highest self during meditation.
Here’s the run-down of my personal meditation experience…
Feel Good Factor: 4 – Personal meditation is the hardest technique for me at this time in my life. You are completely on your own. I meditated for 15 minutes, and it wasn’t until half way through that I felt like I was able to calm my mind and focus purely on my breath.
Personal meditation is very minimal and the elements can sometimes get in your way. Even with the door closed, I could still hear my boyfriend playing Madden on his PS3 (love you baby!), and so it takes an immense amount of focus and personal forgiveness when you are first starting out.
It’s easy to get frustrated and think, “Why isn’t this working!?”, but I found the best way to jump (or should I say float?) over that hurdle is by releasing those thoughts, chalking it up to experience, and realizing that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
I think it helps if you go into your meditation with a set intention or mantra, but I wanted to use this meditation time to see what spoke to me. Ultimately, I really connected to finding an inner-stillness that is nearly impossible to connect with during the day. During the second half of my meditation, when I focused on the stillness and let it grow within me, I felt more at peace…but it was sort of bumpy up until that point!
Time: 8 – Personal meditation is great because you are on your own schedule. You can do it for as long or short as you want, so there is really no going wrong. For me, I find it a bit more difficult to get settled and focused than when I am doing guided meditations, so longer is better.
Lasting Results: 4 – Since I really didn’t make any grand discoveries during this particular session, the results weren’t all that lasting. The candles made our bedroom smell really nice though, so that lasted a while!
Overall Rating: 4 – For a beginner, this is the hardest type of meditation. It requires trust, release, and an open-mind.
But I love it because the entire meditation is on your terms…any discovery or inspiration is a direct connection to your source, not some idea pumped into your brain by an audio track.
That being said, I do suggest going into the meditation with a set intention or desire. Maybe you want to meditate to relax, release angry feelings, connect to your inner-guide, or focus on a mantra or affirmation of your choosing.
It’s entirely up to you.
Without an intention, you might feel like you are floundering. But don’t give up. Any lesson, emotion or circumstance is valid during meditation and will only continue to help you in your practice.
If you want to boost your meditation skills, you might like…
Guided Meditation Class:
As the last part of this Meditation technique review, I decided to take a guided meditation class.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured it would be a lot like my Kundalini Yoga class, just without the yoga part. (which was good, considering my hips were still on fire from that class!)
I took the class at a studio called Three Jewels in New York City, literally 2 minutes away from my apartment.
The place itself left something to be desired (the “donation” was a mandatory $15, and they spent about 20 minutes and 50 swipes of my credit card – no joke – making sure I was wrung dry by time class started), but I tried not to let my initial poor impressions impact my view of the class. Plus, it just felt icky to be feeling anger in such a zen place…not a good start to the experience!
I thought it would be more of a guided group meditation, but instead it focused more on increasing your concentration and clarity skills.
There were only 3 people attending the class (myself included) and the instructor made full eye contact with me 90% of the class time, which made it feel pretty awkward.
Again, all nit-picky establishment qualms aside, the actual message of the class was helpful and I’m excited to introduce some of the techniques and frames of focus to my own personal meditation practice.
Feel Good Factor: 5 – I felt pretty good. I gained a greater sense of clarity and concentration, which was noticeable compared to my usual meditation sessions.
Time: 6 – The class was an hour and a half long, and felt like 15 minutes.
Lasting Results: 4 – Hate to say it, but I think it was difficult to really separate the class from the experience of the studio. It’s hard to enjoy the results of the meditation session, especially when I’m worried to get home and check and see if my credit card was charged 8 times during my repeated and forced “donation”. (Don’t get me wrong, I love donating and do so frequently, but the manner in which their policy was handled made me feel very on edge and I was two seconds away from leaving before class even started.)
Overall Rating: 2 – Not worth the $15, at this studio or otherwise. The entire class could be summed up into 2 sentences: Focus on your breath. Keep an eye on the clarity of your breath as you meditate. Despite the fact that it’s practically in my backyard, I don’t think I’ll be back again.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE…
My FAVORITE Newbie Meditation Technique was…
The guided meditation audio tracks!
Kundalini Yoga was a close second, but nothing can beat the ease and impact of those incredible guided meditation audio tracks. Gabby’s tracks were great, but I’m excited to try other guided meditation albums as well.
Have you tried any of the techniques listed above? What were your experiences? Have any favorite guided meditation albums of your own? (I would love to hear your suggestions and expand my library!) Let me know in the comments below!
Find them again here:
- Gabby Bernstein’s “Miracles Now” Guided Meditation Album
- Crystal-Cure.com (For Gemstones & Crystals for your Meditation Space)
- Tiny Devotions Mala Meditation Beads (On my wish list!)
Know someone that could use a chill pill? Share this Newbie Meditation Review with him or her on Facebook! Don’t worry, I’ll let you take all the credit for their mellow mood. 😉