In recent years, there has been a tremendous upsurge in the number of people learning how to meditate. The main reason is that scientists are confirming the benefits that practitioners have been touting for years, and much more. But for the beginner, it is often difficult figuring out where to start. In this article, we'll examine the reasons for the confusion, and give you a good starting point, so you can get the most from your meditation practice, and realize true happiness and inner peace.

Have you ever wondered if you're meditating properly? Most of us have. Which of the following statements best describes your experience with meditation?

  • "I have trouble sitting still. My mind is racing too fast to sit quietly."
  • "I meditate, but not much seems to happen. Sometimes, I just fall asleep."
  • "Everyone I've asked about how to meditate gives me a different answer."
  • "I've read several books on meditation, but I'm still not sure where to start."
  • "I've tried different ways of meditating, but my progress still seems slow."

If you answered "Yes" to any of these statements, then you're not alone. These are some of the difficulties that most of us, including myself, have experienced when learning how to meditate.

Up until the mid 1990s, relatively few people engaged in the practice. One of the main reasons Westerners have been slow to adopt meditation is because there has been so much confusion about the practice. If you ask 10 different people how to meditate, you'll probably get 10 different answers, and they may not necessarily be wrong. This makes it very difficult for a beginner.

There are 3 main reasons for all the confusion:

  1. There are many different forms of meditation. With so many different forms, it's hard to tell which ones really work. Since they vary in their approach, so does their effectiveness.
  2. Not many people fully understand meditation. It's hard to find someone who truly understands how to meditate and can explain it clearly.
  3. Most books on meditation are confusing. They usually overwhelm you with so much information that you end up more confused than before. Many of them also use a lot of cryptic language that makes it even more confusing.

When you combine these 3 factors, it is no wonder that beginners have such a hard time learning how to meditate. What usually happens is that beginners, and many experienced practitioners, try practicing several different forms without clear goals or objectives. The result is little or no progress in their spiritual development. With this approach, they're missing out on the true benefits of meditation.

TIP: Chose a well-established form of meditation, and stick with it.

Trying a different form of meditation each week is like trying to learn how to play a different instrument every week. You're never going to learn how to play music that way. It's the same with learning how to meditate.

If you are new to meditation, I suggest you choose one specific form of meditation, and learn it well, then you'll gain a good understanding of what meditation is all about. Later, if you decide that form doesn't suit you, then you'll have a basis for evaluating other forms. This clearly makes more sense than to keep jumping around from one form to another without any direction.

Meditation is an extremely powerful tool for spiritual development. Once you understand the proper techniques, you should expect to see noticeable progress from week to week. If you've seen your progress diminish, it may be because you're trying too many different forms. If you stick with one particular form, you'll likely save yourself a great deal of time and effort.

If there is any drawback for the beginner just learning how to meditate, it's that the rising popularity of meditation is creating a shortage of teachers who fully understand the practice, and can teach it in a clear and simple manner. The good news is that there are a few such teachers out there who are developing tools to help beginners get off to a good start.

Author's Bio: 

Charles A. Francis is the founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. The Institute is dedicated to providing people with the tools they need to realize their full potential as human and spiritual beings through the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Charles has studied the practice of mindfulness with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and has developed a system of teaching mindfulness meditation that uses clear and simple instructions. He has over 16 years of experience helping people find true happiness and inner peace with the practice of mindfulness, through personal consultations, lectures, workshops, and spiritual retreats.

Visit his website at