How to Get Into a Meditative State: 14 Simple Techniques To Try

Practice
October 17, 2021

Modern self-care routines tend to include mindful activities that can help people enter a meditative state. While there are benefits to doing this successfully, many struggle to allow themselves to enter such a state. This is likely because they don’t know any tricks or techniques for doing so.

If you’re someone who wants to learn how to get in a deep meditative state, this article will teach you everything you need to know by covering the following topics:

  • Understanding the basics of meditative states
  • How to get into a meditative state: 14 effective techniques you can try
  • How to enter a deep meditative state: 6 breathwork techniques to try

We’ll start by exploring the basics of meditative states before moving into how to induce a meditative state in yourself. If you’re interested in learning more about breathwork meditation practices, check out our guide to breathwork meditation.

Understanding the basics of meditative states

Part of learning how to reach a meditative state is knowing what to expect. Below are all the basics on these states.

What is a meditative state?

A women mediating in a living room

A meditative state is a situation where a person is fully absorbed in the present moment. The term is related to the practice of meditation, but the state and practice are not always mutually inclusive. There are different states that can be experienced, as well as various different ways to achieve them (including meditation and breathwork).

What does a meditative state feel like?

Those wondering how to enter a meditative state, especially a deep one, might ask “What does a meditative state feel like?”. You can tell if you’ve been in a meditative state because you’ll have become lost in your thoughts and lost your sense of time. You’ll have been in a complete state of flow while feeling relaxed.

What are the different states of meditation?

As briefly mentioned above, there isn’t only one state of meditation that can be experienced. These are the five states of meditation you might find yourself in:

  • Alpha state: Your thoughts begin to slow down as you engage in a relaxing activity.
  • Beta state: Regular daily brain functioning, known as the ‘working’ or ‘thinking’ mind.
  • Delta state: Deep relaxation you experience while asleep.
  • Gamma state: Hyperactive brain activity that allows you to retain information.
  • Theta state: Highly relaxed, conscious state where your thinking mind is overcome by your visual mind.

How to get into a meditative state: 14 effective techniques you can try

If you’re unsure how to get into a meditative state, there are several techniques and everyday activities you can try. The following methods are some of the top ways you can do so.

1. Meditation

Likely to be the first method you think of when it comes to entering a meditative state, meditation is a practice that involves relaxing while directing one’s consciousness to the present moment. It’s often done by training the mind to pay attention to specific items, thoughts, feelings, and/or sensations. Meditation continues to be one of the most popular self-care practices, and is known to help with stress, anxiety, and even pain management.

Pros Cons
  • Promotes calm and relaxation
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Promotes deep sleep
  • Helps manage chronic pain
  • Can be difficult for those who dislike staying still
  • Can feel overwhelming
  • Can negatively affect self-esteem
  • Can alter sensory perception
  • Can cause headaches, fatigue, or dizziness

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta.

2. Breathwork

A woman breathing while lying on a yoga mat in a living room

Breathwork is a mindfulness activity that involves controlling the way one breathes. It refers to a wide range of exercises that help to improve many areas of well-being. It's often viewed as being less overwhelming than regular meditation, since deep breathing provides a focal point around which to gradually achieve a meditative state.

Pros Cons
  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Strengthens lungs
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts immune system
  • Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Some techniques can trigger intense emotions
  • Might cause dizziness
  • Can cause hyperventilation if done improperly
  • Consult your doctor before starting if you have any medical conditions


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta.

3. Yoga

Yoga refers to a variety of exercises that combine physical poses, concentration, and deep breathing for relaxation and wellness. It originated in ancient India, and continues to be widely used today to help improve quality of life. This is great for those who want to enter a meditative state without needing to stay seated in one position for long periods of time.

Pros Cons
  • Improves physical health
  • Helps manage pain
  • Supports heart health
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Increases energy
  • Slower stress relief
  • Risk of injury with some poses
  • Could be limited by some medical conditions
  • Not ideal for all ages
  • Can negatively affect confidence and self-esteem in some

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

4. Tai Chi

Tai chi, also known as moving meditation, is a form of exercise that promotes relaxation and mental clarity. It originated from China as a meditative practice, and has evolved to include a wide variety of techniques. While it involves physical movement, it is done in a way to help induce mindfulness, improve cognition, and help prevent mental disorders.

Pros Cons
  • Improves aerobic capacity
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Improves physical health
  • Helps manage symptoms of mental illness
  • Should be avoided by those who are pregnant, have osteoporosis, or a hernia
  • Can be very tiring
  • Can cause discomfort
  • Movements can be tricky to learn
  • Can cause feelings of impatience

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

5. Playing or listening to music

Lit sound bowls in a dark room

Music is a great way to help get into a meditative state, whether you're listening to or playing the songs you love. This method involves playing music and allowing yourself to experience it fully. The music used will affect the type of meditative state you experience, but all will help relieve stress.

Pros Cons
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Improves mood
  • Helps ease pain
  • Increases endurance
  • Some songs might result in an opposite effect than intended
  • Can stimulate negative memories in some

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, gamma, and theta.

6. Swimming

Swimming meditation can be done by spending time in water with the intention of being present, rather than swimming laps or being highly active. This activity can help you get into a meditative state as you focus on the physical sensations and feelings while being in the water. This method can help you feel refreshed as you clear your thoughts while being mindful.

Pros Cons
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Improves physical health
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Improves mood
  • Not recommended for weak swimmers
  • Limited by access to swimming facilities


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

7. Dancing

A group of people dancing next to water

Dancing mindfully is another easy physical activity that can be used to enter a meditative state. This can easily be done by being fully present in the moment, focusing on feelings and sensations while moving freely. It's a great way to have fun and be creative while improving both mental and physical health.

Pros Cons
  • Increases positive thinking
  • Improves physical health
  • Increases creativity
  • Relieves stress
  • Increases self-confidence
  • Success can be limited for those worried about steps

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

8. Coloring & crafting

Coloring pictures, drawing, painting, needlework, and other creative activities are fun ways to enter a meditative state. They help you become focused on what your hands are doing and forget about everything else. Artistic ability isn't required to enjoy crafts, and they've been proven to be a great stress reliever.

Pros Cons
  • Decreases heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves focus
  • Improves sleep
  • Reduces negative thoughts
  • Need to choose activities that won’t cause stress


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and gamma.

9. Sex

While often difficult to talk about, sex is another stress reliever that can help you easily get into a meditative state. Whether on your own or with a partner, sexual meditation allows you to effortlessly turn your attention to your sensations and emotions (and those of your partner). It can also be an incredibly healing practice and helps promote positivity for many.

Pros Cons
  • Helps overcome sexual issues
  • Helps manage symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts immune system
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Can be uncomfortable for those who view it as taboo


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta.

10. Gardening

A woman gathering plants outdoors

Those who mindfully garden regularly will find it allows them to easily enter a meditative state. This is because their focus is turned towards the feelings and sensations evoked by the natural beauty of their garden. Those with access to a garden will gain a variety of health benefits, in addition to the ones from simply being outdoors.

Pros Cons
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves mood
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Ideal for those with access to a garden
  • Best for those who are experienced gardeners

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

11. Walking

Walking meditation can be done by taking a walk in nature (or anywhere outdoors) and becoming fully present in your surroundings. By taking a relaxing walk and allowing yourself to experience the feelings and sensations that occur, you allow yourself to enter a meditative state that takes you away from the rest of the world. This allows you to gain the usual benefits of walking while also benefiting from meditation.

Pros Cons
  • Lowers risk of various diseases
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps manage symptoms of depression
  • Works best in locations with limited distractions
  • Some might be limited by their physical abilities

Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta

12. Cleaning

Cleaning is something many do anyways, but it's also a great way to help get into a meditative state. By allowing yourself to mindfully clean, you're able to meditate on and fully experience the tasks at hand. Tidying your home offers many benefits for physical and mental health as is, and combining it with a meditative practice will benefit you even more.

Pros Cons
  • Reduces stress
  • Boosts immune system
  • Helps manage symptoms of depression
  • Helps prevent illness
  • Improves sleep
  • Safety precautions might make it difficult to maintain mindfulness


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and gamma.

13. Singular focus techniques

Water rings in a puddle under a hand

For those that struggle with meditation, an easy way to get into a meditative state is to focus on a single item. This can be a physical object or photo, or a mental image, word, or phrase. Candles are great items to start with. Focusing on an item of choice gives you something to direct your attention towards, allowing you to be meditative in a less overwhelming manner.

Pros Cons
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves focus
  • Improves mood
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Helps manage symptoms of depression
  • Can be difficult for those who dislike staying still


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, and theta.

14. Reading

Reading a book mindfully involves entering a meditative state as you absorb the story on the page. Actively reading allows you to easily paint a mental image of the story’s events while forgetting about your surroundings and life events. This activity allows you to enter deep relaxation – and even become sleepy – while gaining many mental health benefits.

Pros Cons
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps manage symptoms of depression
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases empathy
  • Some book plots might cause stress or negative emotions
  • Not ideal for those who become bored while reading


Meditative states you can enter: Alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta.

6 breathwork techniques that can help you enter a deep meditative state

If you’re still wondering how to reach a deep meditative state using one of the methods above, breathwork could be the best option for you. Here is a selection of breathwork techniques – some for beginners, others more advanced – to help you achieve a deep state of meditation.

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

A man breathing on a yoga mat with his hands on his chest and stomach

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal or belly breathing, is an easy deep breathing exercise that’s often used to correct breathing and relieve stress. It involves breathing in and out while allowing the stomach to move, allowing more oxygen into the body. This exercise is one of the most popular forms of breathwork, and is often recommended by medical professionals and wellness experts.

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Relax your body as you place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose, allowing your stomach to press against your hand as your body fills with air.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth, letting your stomach relax as you do so.
  5. Continue to inhale and exhale as many times as desired.

Try it now: Watch this 12-minute guided video.

2. 4-7-8 breathing

4-7-8 breathing is another popular breathing exercise that can also be used to access a state of meditation. The numbers in its name represent the number of seconds spent inhaling, holding, and exhaling the breath. It’s highly effective at promoting relaxation in those who are stressed or anxious. It’s also great for those struggling to fall asleep.

How to do it:

  1. Sit up in a comfortable position.
  2. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, for a count of 8 seconds.
  5. Continue this pattern as many times as desired.

Try it now: Watch this 4-minute guided video.

3. Alternate nostril breathing

A woman practicing alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a breathing exercise with origins in pranayama (also known as breathwork yoga). The technique involves alternating breathing between nostrils as a method of breath control. It also benefits cognitive function for both sides of the brain.

How to do it:

  1. Sit down in a comfortable position.
  2. Hold your right hand up to your face as you exhale normally.
  3. Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
  4. Breathe in through your left nostril, then use your fingers to close it.
  5. Release your thumb from your right nostril and breathe out of it.
  6. Breathe in through the right nostril, then use your thumb to close it again.
  7. Release your fingers from your left nostril and breathe out of that side. You’ve completed a full cycle.
  8. Repeat the cycle as many times as desired.

Try it now: Watch this 7-minute guided video.

4. Breath focus technique

The breath focus technique is a relaxation-focused breathing exercise that involves focusing on a mental image, word, or phrase while breathing deeply. It’s helpful for relieving stress and releasing negativity while promoting joy. It’s easy to do and can be done wherever and whenever you need relief.

How to do it:

  1. Sit up or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Focus on the way you’re breathing, but don’t change it (yet).
  3. Start switching between regular breathing and deep breathing. Notice the differences between the two and how they make you feel.
  4. Spend a few minutes breathing deeply with one hand on your stomach, sighing loudly with every exhale. Pay attention to the sensation of your stomach rising and falling against your hand.
  5. Continue to breathe deeply while focusing on the mental image, word, or phrase of your choice.
  6. When you’re ready, imagine waves of positivity entering your body with every inhale.
  7. With every exhale, picture any negativity or tension being washed out of your body.
  8. Continue this for as long as you’d like, until you feel relaxed or in a better mood.

5. Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork is a modern breathwork practice that was developed for personal empowerment and healing. The creators, Christina and Stanislav Grof, combined consciousness research, psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and more to create a transformative experience. This is a more advanced technique, which should only be practiced under the guidance of certified professionals.

How to do it: Research upcoming workshops and retreats.

Try it now: Watch this 10-minute introductory video.

6. Shamanic Breathwork

Shamanic Breathwork is an advanced breathing technique based on ancient shamanic practices. The main goal of it is to enter an altered state of consciousness. Sessions are often done with secondary goals of self-healing and better understanding oneself. Many who have completed sessions say they left with a greater sense of self, sometimes to a life-changing degree.

How to do it: Research local sessions, workshops, and retreats.

Try it now: Watch this 15-minute guided video.


Ready to learn how to achieve a meditative state using breathwork? Explore the class styles offered on the Othership app.