Meditation Instructions For Beginners

The number one challenge with meditation is “consistency”. In this post, I am going to share specific meditation instructions for beginners which would help them in setting a strong foundation when it comes to making meditation a daily habit.

Most people fail at meditation because they have wrong notions/ideas about meditation. I have seen a lot of beginners being preoccupied with meditation techniques without understanding the basic principles of meditation. They do not realize meditation is a process of training your mind which has been driving them crazy all this time.

I have shared below the different stages of meditation that you would discover as you start practicing meditation. You can consider the stages as a reference when you meditate and compare your meditation experience with the states described here.

By following this teaching you can assess how you are progressing with your meditation practice and what you need to do to enhance your practice.

Nine Stages of Meditation

First Stage: Placement

When you start your meditation practice the first thing you need to learn is to place your attention on a particular object. This can be an external object such as the flame of a candle or a flower. When you focus on external objects, you simply gaze at them without trying to interpret them.

If you are looking for an internal object then you can place your attention on your breath. Place your attention on the tip of the nostril and notice the air you inhale and exhale. You need to forcibly engage your mind on the object of observation as your mind wanders.

As a beginner this can be difficult as your mind will get distracted by thoughts however with practice you will get better and progress onto the next stage i.e. continue placing attention.

Second Stage: Continuous Placement

In this stage, you notice your wandering mind and gently bring it back to its focus object. The key is every time you bring the mind back to its focus object, you do that gently, without interpreting “mind wandering” as a bad thing.

As you practice, you might experience a sudden rush of thoughts, emotions, or feelings that arise in your mind. You may start to wonder is meditation really working for me? You may start to question – Why is my mind is not calming down. Most people give up here.

You need to understand, this is probably the first time in so many years you are looking at your mind with so much curiosity. And this is probably the reason you are noticing so many thoughts, emotions, and feelings. You are not failing at meditation, in fact, it has started working for you. You noticing these thoughts, feeling the emotions, seeing the whole mental activity is a great sign.

Simply notice the mind has wandered and bring it back to the object. Do this at least for 3-5 minutes.

Third Stage: Replacement or Resetting the Mind

Your mind will still wander in this stage however you notice it quickly in comparison to the second stage and bring it back to its focus object. Keep in mind you are training a mind which was always on autopilot mode.

The hindrance which you may face in this stage is “attachment to a particular thought”. For instance, you are meditating and suddenly a thought comes to your mind “You have an important meeting today in the office” and followed by other thoughts related to the meeting start popping up and you get completely absorbed into it.

At such times, you need to rely on the power of mindfulness. You should make a persistent effort to bring the distracted mind and reset its focus back on its object. There will be slip-ups, some days you may not be able to calm your mind but that’s fine. You need not punish yourself or give up, instead be patient and continue with your practice.

Simply notice the mind has wandered and bring it back to the object. Do this at least for 3-5 minutes.

Fourth Stage: Close Placement or Setting the Mind

Now you begin to achieve a certain level of stability with your mind, as you become familiar with the object of concentration. As you reach this stage you know that you can pay attention for the most part of your meditation session on focus object & are able to relax more.

Although, there would be days when your mind will wander here and there because of the undercurrent thought that tends to influence and distract your mind. However, with the power of mindfulness, you will now be able to overcome the state of restlessness.

Fifth Stage: Controlled or Disciplined Mind

As you continue with your practice you will reach this stage wherein you are able to tame your mind. You are now able to sit through your sessions without getting distracted by thoughts.

This is probably the stage where you take a closer look and actually realize that you are not your thoughts – This is in itself a life-changing event.

You may still experience moments of dullness & heaviness in your practice. At such times you need to strengthen your mind by remembering the extraordinary benefits of meditation that you are able to experience such as lightness, relaxation, joy. This would help your mind to stabilize and put it to rest.

Sixth Stage: Pacified Mind

When you first start to meditate, your aim is to calm your mind by placing your attention on a neutral object (external or internal). Pacifying the mind is different from calming the mind. This is where the big change happens.

There are certain situations in life that create a lot of emotional disturbances. For instance: If your loved one cheats on you or a close friend betrays your trust. These incidents often invoke strong feelings of anger, revenge, and jealousy towards a particular person.

As you sit to practice thinking through these difficult times – How do you feel at the end of the session? The objective is to remain calm even when you think through these troubling situations. The major switch happens as you learn to look at these problems and transform them into qualities.

For instance, if you feel negative towards a person, you see this as an opportunity to develop the quality of “compassion” or “forgiveness” towards that person. This is pacifying your mind. As you begin to develop better qualities in your mind, no matter what you think, you become more pacified & calm – This is a major development.

Seventh Stage: Complete Pacification

This is the continuation of the previous stage wherein you use the power of diligence and apply antidotes of love & compassion when rage, anxiety, jealousy arise in your mind.

The challenge is not to get distracted by these distressed or unpleasant feelings. You simply let them be there and understand the nature of these thoughts & feelings. When you realize the emptiness of unpleasant thoughts and feelings, you understand that they are harmless.

This helps you to cultivate & reflect on the good qualities of the Buddha that are lying dormant in you.

Eighth Stage: Single Pointedness

As you continue with your practice, you train your mind to focus attention on the object without distraction. During the initial stages you are able to focus on the object for a few seconds, however gradually you able to focus for a few minutes, then half an hour, then an hour, and so on.

When you reach this stage, you start to see tremendous progress in your path to inner growth and development.

Ninth Stage: Balanced Placement

In this stage, the mind simply rests evenly & naturally in a state of equipoise. The mind is disciplined at this stage as you will be able to maintain concentration on the object without disruptions. Reaching this stage does not mean you have become enlightened instead this stage becomes the foundation for gaining insight and understanding the true nature of mind.

Way Forward: Don’t Give Up… When Meditation Feels Hard

Now that you are aware of the different stages of meditation, you can compare your meditation experience and ascertain your progress. You don’t need to give up on meditation in a few days instead practice more to enhance your meditation experience.

If you are still finding it difficult to make meditation a daily habit then you may want to check out the meditation program for beginners. I have shared the link below for your further study.

8 thoughts on “Meditation Instructions For Beginners”

  1. Hi Satish,

    This was very interesting to read about the different stages of meditation and especially how the mind wanders and what stage the mind is at. I have tried a few guided meditations before from some of the timer meditation style apps.
    The biggest problem for me was having a wandering mind. I guess that is why many people give up on meditation. But if anything, that is more of a reason to keep going.
    How long should we meditate for each day? And how long does it take to reach the seventh stage onwards if we are doing daily meditation?
    Thanks in advance, John

    • Hi John,

      Mind wandering is common challenge for beginners. However with practice you do achieve a certain level of stability with your mind. Ideally if you are beginner start with 3 minutes for at least two weeks then gradually increase your time. As you practice, compare your progress with the nine stages stated above. Also there is no fixed time to cross a certain level or to reach a certain stage…everyone’s mind is not the same and is often conditioned with different life experiences.

      The point is not who reaches or completes the nine stages of meditation (This is not some competition) – It is an understanding of how you can tame your mind, make it disciplined, so that you can gain deeper insights into the true nature of mind, thoughts and emotions. Such insights or knowledge will help you face reality in the best possible way. Hope this helps ~ Stay Blessed 🙂

  2. Hi Satish,

    Thanks for your guide to meditation for beginners. I happen to be a beginner at meditation. My problem is that my mind wanders. I can’t seem to sit still long enough. I do, however, use the technique of paying attention to my breath which helps. I used to chant Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo. The object of worship is called the Gohonzon. It was easy for me to chant long periods of time because I had an object to focus on. Having an object to focus on makes all the difference.

    I find I have to start with 3 minutes first. It’s easier to be consistent with 3 minutes.

    • Hi Shalisha,

      Absolutely it starts with placing your attention on an object (internal / external). Meditation is a training to improve the focus of our mind. And as you bring your wandering mind back to the focus object over and over again…you achieve certain level of stability with your mind. As beginners we all will experience “mind wandering” be patient with yourself, gradually with time, you will get better ~ Stay Blessed 🙂

  3. Hi Satish,

    Thank you for this informative overview on meditation for beginners. This is pretty advanced for me. I am used to the Headspace way of doing meditation.
    Meditation can definitely do wonders for you. I have had many sessions in mediation where I have broken down and started crying. Its definitely beneficial for mental clarity and it also gives you more energy and positivity throughout the days! I have been slacking and need to pick up meditation again.

    • Hi David,

      Glad to know that you found the post informative & have a meditation practice. Keep the momentum going and don’t drop the habit of practicing meditation ~ Stay Blessed 🙂

  4. Hi Satish,

    Amazing guide for beginners. I tried mediation for a while , Silva’s method if you know it, but wasn’t able to stay focused for very long. When I see that you encourage people to keep on trying, I think I will have to give it another try -;)
    Do you use meditation also with imagination? So, let’s say you have desired money amount in your mind, that you would like to achieve.

    • Hi Julius,

      When you say “imagining having desired money” that’s visualization & not meditation. In meditation you simply see your thoughts (past & future)…you simply observe them & not indulge in them. Meditation as a practice helps you to understand the nature of the mind so that you can use that knowledge to deal with reality ~ Stay Blessed 🙂


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