From the spiritual point of view, every seeker is a beginner. The moment you want to make constantly and continual progress, at that moment you become an eternal beginner.
Sri Chinmoy 1
If you are an absolute beginner, then you can start by reading a few spiritual books or scriptures. These will give you inspiration. You should read books by spiritual Masters in whom you have implicit faith. There are Masters who have attained the highest consciousness, and if you read their books, you are bound to get inspiration. It is better not to read books written by professors or scholars or aspirants who are still on the path and have not yet attained illumination. Only those who have realised the Truth will have the capacity to offer the Truth. Otherwise, it is like the blind leading the blind.
It is also a good idea to associate with people who have been meditating for some time. These people may not be in a position to teach you, but they will be able to inspire you. Even if you just sit beside them while they are meditating, unconsciously your inner being will derive some meditative power from them. You are not stealing anything; only your inner being is taking help from them without your outer knowledge.
In the beginning you should not even think about meditation. Just try to set aside a certain time of day when you will try to be calm and quiet, and feel that these five minutes belong to your inner being and to nobody else. Regularity is of paramount importance. What you need is regular practice at a regular time.
Every day there is only one thing to learn:
how to be honestly happy.
Let me start with the ABCs of meditation. The best way to meditate is to sit cross-legged on a small cushion or rug. The spine and the neck must be kept erect. If it is not possible for some of you to sit that way, then please try, if you are sitting on a chair, to sit with your entire back straight and erect.2
When you meditate at home, set aside a corner of your room which you can make absolutely pure and sanctified - a sacred place that you use only for meditation.
For your daily meditation, it is best to meditate alone. Before beginning your meditation, it is helpful to take a shower or proper bath. It is also advisable to wear clean and light clothes.
To follow the spiritual life, you should meditate at least once a day. It is best to meditate early in the morning when the atmosphere is calm and peaceful.
When meditating, it is important to keep the spine straight and erect, and to keep the body relaxed. You will find that your inner being will spontaneously take you to a conformable position; it is up to you to maintain it.
Some seekers like to meditate while laying down, but this is not advisable.You may enter into a world of sleep or into a kind of inner doze. Again, the lotus position, which is an advanced yoga posture, is not necessary for proper meditation. Many people meditate very well while they are seated in a chair.
It will help if you burn incense and candles and keep some flowers in front of you. The outer flower will remind you of the flower inside your heart.
When you smell the scent of incense, you will gain inspiration and purification to add to your inner treasure. When you see the outer flame, immediately you will feel your inner flame climbing high, higher, highest.
For a beginner it is better to start with concentration. Otherwise, the moment you try to make your mind calm and vacant, millions of uncomely thoughts will enter into you and you will not be able to meditate even for one second. If you concentrate, at that time you challenge the wrong thoughts that are trying to enter you. So in the beginning just practise concentration for a few minutes. Then, after a few weeks or a few months, you can try meditation.
Further reading: Concentration
Proper breathing is very important in meditation. When breathing, try to inhale as slowly and quietly as possible, so that if somebody placed a tiny thread in front of your nose, it would not move at all. And try to exhale more slowly still. If possible, leave a short pause between the end of your exhalation and the beginning of your inhalation. If you can, hold your breath for a few seconds. But if it is difficult, do not do it. Never do anything that will harm your organs or respiratory system.
Each time you breathe in, try to feel that you are bringing into your body infinite peace. When you breathe out, try to feel that you are expelling the restlessness within and all around you. After practicing this a few times, try to feel that you are inhaling power from the universe. When you exhale, feel that all your fear is leaving your body. After doing this a few times, try to feel that what you are breathing in is infinite joy, and what you are breathing out is sorrow, suffering and depression.
There is also something else you can try. Feel that you are breathing in not air, but cosmic energy. Feel that there is not a single place in your body that is not being filled by cosmic energy. It is flowing like a river inside you, washing and purifying your whole being. Then when you start to breathe out, feel that you are breathing out all the rubbish inside you - all your undivine thoughts, obscure ideas and impure actions.3