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A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

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(Photo Credit: Jaimie Baird)

Meditation has been a hot topic recently amongst celebrities, health gurus, and even successful entrepreneurs. That’s because it’s one of the most simple and effective forms of self-discovery, getting grounded, and finding inner peace in this busy, chaotic world that we live in. Not only that, studies have shown that a consistent meditation practice can boost mental clarity, concentration, happiness, better sleep, and even weight loss.

If you’ve never tried meditating, it’s worth giving it a try for your mental and physical well-being. It might seem intimidating and uncomfortable at first, but it’s quite easy and accessible once you start doing it, and you’ll be amazed at all the benefits you’ll reap from this simple practice of mindfulness.

So where do you start? Follow these steps to get started in finding your inner zen today.

Find a quiet space and time.

It’s important that you have a quiet and comfortable space, where you won’t be distracted by noises and other people. Think of this as your self-care “me” time, because it is!

Mornings are great because many people usually have some time to themselves, and starting the day off with a short meditation practice sets you up in that calm, adaptable state, in which you can tackle whatever the day brings with more ease. Another great time is at night, and practicing mindfulness before bed has been shown to improve sleep quality.

Sit up straight in a comfortable position.

Meditation is all about breathing. To breathe properly and concentrate, it’s important to keep your neck and back straight. Imagine a string extending from base of your spine and pulling your back, neck, and head straight up toward the sky. We recommend sitting on a chair or on the floor crossed-legged on a meditation cushion. A blanket or a shawl may also be used to bring you extra comfort and stillness.

Focus on your breath.

Meditation quiets the mind and brings you to stillness using the breath as a tool to get you in that state. Close your mouth and take long, deep breaths, while staying relaxed and comfortable. Focus on any element of the breath you want: How does it feel as it enters and exits your nose? How does it feel in your lungs? In your belly? What does it sound like? Just observe your breath without thinking too hard about it.

Gently bring the attention to your mind.

Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned meditator, your mind will wander to various thoughts, especially if you are stressed. That’s okay. Just let it happen, but let them pass by gently bringing your attention back to your breath. You can also count your breaths if that helps to keep yourself focused.

If silent meditation is too difficult for you, you can also try guided meditations (there are SO many apps out there you can try), or play calming music or nature sounds that can help you sit still longer.

Establish a mantra.

It can be helpful to have a word or a phrase that you can repeat (out loud or to yourself) during your meditation. If your mind wanders, remember your mantra and focus by going back to it. You can figure out what your mantra is by asking yourself, “What do I want to get out of this practice?” If nothing comes to you, one word we like to use is: gratitude.

Start small but be consistent.

Meditating for 5 minutes everyday is so much more beneficial than doing it 60 minutes once a week. Make it priority in your everyday life so you can go back to it often. You can set reminders on your phone, and put it on your daily checklist. Do whatever works for you, but just remember that you’ll start seeing what huge difference meditation makes in your life by being consistent with it.

There is no one right way.

As you start getting more and more comfortable with your meditation practice, it can be practiced anywhere, everywhere. Being in a quiet space is helpful, but the more you become familiar with bringing stillness to your mind, it can be done during your commute, out in nature, at your office, before a meal, or even while walking.

Stress and life events come at us in unexpected situations and places, and it’s during these times when we need it the most that meditation can bring us solace and peace. So start meditating today, and you’ll find that you’ll be able handle whatever life throws at you with more ease and calm. It’s one of the simplest and most effective forms of self-care!

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