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Meditation 101: Techniques, Benefits, and a Beginner’s How-to

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by: Inner IDEA

Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist — so how do you learn how to meditate?

“In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing,” University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. And different meditation practices require different mental skills.

It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” We have some tools such as a beginner meditation DVD or a brain-sensing headband to help you through this process when you are starting out. In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

Concentration meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

Other meditation techniques

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation.

Benefits of meditation

If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.

How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners

This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. We recommend using one of our Cooling Eye Masks or Restorative Eye Pillows if lying down.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.

Learn to Meditate in 6 Easy Steps

You’ve heard that meditation and mindfulness can benefit your health and wellbeing, so you’ve decided to give it a try. But you’re not sure where to begin … how do you “quiet the mind?”

The key to learning how to meditate and developing a successful meditation practice is finding the right fit for you. In order to figure out what form of meditation works best for you, you’ll have to put a few types of meditation to the test and try several tools so you can choose the practice that feels the most comfortable. As a quick introduction to meditation, follow these six simple steps to begin one type of meditation technique called mantra meditation.

Mantra Meditation Technique

1. Choose your mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you silently repeat to yourself during meditation. The purpose of the mantra is to give you something to put your attention on other than your thoughts. You may use any phrase you like. Some people like to use words like “Peace” or “Love”. You may wish to use the So Hum mantra. This is a commonly used Sanskrit mantra, which literally translates to “I am.” It is often referred to as the mantra of manifestation. I like using the So Hum mantra because it is not in my native English language and does not trigger any additional thoughts.

2. Find a comfortable place to sit. It’s best to find a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed. There is no need to sit cross-legged on the floor unless that is comfortable for you. You can sit on a chair or sofa or on the floor with your back against a wall. You may support yourself with cushions, pillows, or blankets. The goal is to sit as upright as possible while still remaining comfortable. We all have different anatomies and you want your meditation experience to be enjoyable, so make your comfort a priority. Lying on your back is usually not recommended because most people fall asleep in this position, but you can try it if sitting is uncomfortable for you. The most important rule is that meditation can be practiced anywhere, as long as you’re comfortable.

3. Gently close your eyes and begin by taking some deep breaths. Try taking a few “cleansing breaths” by inhaling slowly through your nose and then exhaling out your mouth. After a few cleansing breaths, continue breathing at a normal relaxed pace through your nose with your lips gently closed.

4. Begin repeating your mantra silently to yourself without moving your tongue or lips. The repetition of your mantra is soft, gentle, and relaxed. There is no need to force it. The mantra does not need to correlate with the breath, though some people prefer to do so. For example, if using So Hum as your mantra, you could silently repeat So on your inhalation and Hum on your exhalation. If you choose to correlate your mantra with your breath, do not become overly fixated on this. As your meditation continues, allow the breath to fall away into its own rhythm. The repetition of your mantra should be almost effortless. Sometimes it is helpful to imagine that rather than repeating the mantra to yourself, you are actually listening to it being whispered in your ear.

5. Do not try and stop your thoughts or empty your mind. As you continue with this meditative process, you will inevitably find that you drift away from the mantra. It is human nature and normal for the mind to wander. Do not try and stop your thoughts or “empty your mind.” Whenever you become aware that your attention has drifted away from your mantra to thoughts or any other distractions while meditating, simply return to silently repeating the mantra.

6. Stop repeating the mantra. After approximately 20 to 30 minutes, you may stop repeating your mantra and continue sitting with your eyes closed. Be sure to spend a few minutes relaxing with your eyes closed before resuming activity. You may use a timer with a very gentle, low-volume sound. Many people use their cell phones as meditation timers. You can download a meditation timer app on your smart phone or choose a soothing sound on your phone’s built-in timer. Be sure to turn the volume down very low as you don’t want to be startled out of your meditation.

If you find that 20 to 30 minutes is too long for you, start with whatever amount of time you can, and slowly build your way to 20 to 30 minutes. Even a few minutes of daily meditation is beneficial.

The benefits of meditation are greatest when practiced daily. Ideally, meditation can be done first thing in the morning upon rising and then again at the end of the day, preferably prior to dinner. I like to start my day feeling centered and balanced after my morning meditation. And I often think of my evening meditation as a “release valve,” allowing any stress or tension from my day to simply drift away.

Learn the core elements of meditation through one of our meditation retreats guided by Deepak Chopra and other world-renowned teachers. Find a meditation retreat to guide you on your journey today.

Discover Deepak Chopra’s secrets to feel more love, connection, and purpose than ever before at Seduction of Spirit, our five-day meditation and yoga retreat. Learn More.

How To Meditate: A Step-By-Step Beginners Guide To Meditation

Meditation offers remarkable benefits, especially for those already using The Law Of Attraction (and for beginners, you can start using The Law Of Attraction). From becoming more in tune with your own thoughts to improving your overall well-being, meditation has something to offer everyone.

If you are a complete meditation beginner, you may be wondering how to get started. Learning to meditate isn’t as complex as you might think. If you want to experience the positives that the practice can bring, then here is a beginner’s guide to meditation.

Meditation Guide: A Brief History Of Meditation

Although meditation is enormously popular, you may not have heard much about its origins. The word has its roots in the Latin term “meditatum”, which translates to “ponder.” But who first suggested the practice, and how did it evolve?

Ancient History Of Meditation

There is some compelling evidence suggesting the hunter-gatherer culture involved meditation, the earliest proper records that we have of meditative practices indicates that the history of meditation truly begins around 1500 BCE. In its earliest incarnations, it appears to have been part of early Hindu tradition in India. Over a thousand years later, it was also seen as part of Buddhist practices in India and Chinese Taoism. Meanwhile, interest in meditation was later cultivated in Western society first by Philo of Alexandria and later by Saint Augustine.

To fully grasp the history of meditation, it’s important to note the split that appeared in the Eastern traditions of Hindu and Buddhist meditation respectively. While Hindus believed that meditation could be used to essentially commune with God, the Buddhist perspective held that we could use the practice to better understand the interconnectedness between all things. It is this non-religious reading of meditation that is most commonly adhered to today, with people of all spiritual backgrounds considering it a plausible way to improve mental health, combat stress and induce feelings of calmness.

Modern Day Meditation

The modern perspective on meditation can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when medics and psychologists began to abandon the stigma associated with religious meditation and started to investigate the possible benefits in a healthcare setting (partly in conjunction with the development of hypnotherapy practices). As research continued, scientists found proof the meditation could reduce the physical signs and symptoms of stress.

Now, there are dozens of different types of meditation, ranging from mindful breathing to body scanning, creative visualization, and loving-kindness meditations.

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Benefits Of Meditation

As you probably know, the health benefits of meditation are incredibly wide-ranging. Once viewed as merely a way to gain calmness or perspective, it is now a suggested part of a whole host of different treatment programs.

A regular meditation practice can impact on both mental and physical health, and it can also take advantage of the most important links between the two.

We’ll explore the major positive effects of meditation below, with reference to some of the most exciting new research that proves how meditation impacts on the body and mind.

Physical Benefits Of Meditation

Scientists are constantly studying the physical benefits of meditation, but some of the most well-established include the following:

  • Improvements to heart health by way of reduced blood pressure and lowered cholesterol. This means a concurrently reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Enhanced immune system function, including both better resistance to disease (e.g. cold and flu viruses) and better outcomes in cases of serious illness.
  • Reduced physical symptoms of anxiety, such as numbness and tingling, tense muscles and panic attacks.
  • Better athletic performance, with participants reporting spikes in concentration, balance, and flexibility. This is a benefit noted by both laypeople and professionals.
  • More restful sleep, including a reduction in the time taken to fall asleep.
  • Quicker and longer-lasting recovery from physical dependency on drugs or alcohol.
  • Greater resilience when dealing with chronic pain (e.g. as part of a condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia).
  • A potential reduction in age-related memory loss.

Spiritual Benefits Of Meditation

Since it seems that meditation first originated as a religious practice, it is unsurprising that it offers spiritual benefits. Even if you are agnostic or consider yourself an atheist, you can still have a fulfilling spiritual life. Some of the benefits of meditation in this respect include:

  • An enhanced ability to put things into perspective, dismissing unimportant things and focusing on what matters.
  • A greater sense of peace regarding one’s own, modest place in the universe (which in turn reduces the temptation to live an ego-driven life).
  • A more well-defined sense of purpose, which informs relationships, career choice, and daily life.
  • Heightened levels of compassion for others, and an associated ability to empathize with people owing to a new awareness of your basic similarities.
  • A feeling of unity between the mind, body, and spirit, so that you are more “in tune” with your true self than you have ever been.
  • A further feeling of unity between yourself, others, and the whole world around you. This is sometimes called “oneness.”
  • Easier and more honest self-acceptance, especially when it comes to things that you cannot change about yourself.
  • If you are religious, a sense of a deepening relationship with a higher power.

Mental Health Benefits Of Meditation

Meditation has recently received a lot of attention as a tool for coping with mental health issues and improving your emotional well-being. This is with good reason–the mental health benefits of daily meditation include the following:

  • Connection with the present moment, at the expense of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future.
  • Improvements in how you deal with stress, at work, and at home.
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety (owing in part to reduced heart rate and respiration rate). Sufferers of PTSD report similar benefits.
  • Enhanced ability to concentrate on what you want to focus on, dismissing racing or unproductive thoughts.
  • Proven improvements in depression symptoms. In fact, meditation has been shown to be just as effective as medication when it comes to treating standard depression.
  • Heightened emotional intelligence. This means that you can better identify what you’re feeling, accept it, and regulate it as needed.
  • Relationship benefits, such as being more thoughtful and patient when in conflict with your partner.
  • The potential to overcome phobias, including life-limiting fears (e.g. fear of flying, or fear of open spaces).
  • Increased self-knowledge. This is partly because you spend more time on self-reflection, and partly because meditation involves honestly tuning in to who you are and what you feel.

Types Of Meditation

The benefits of meditation are fairly consistent, regardless of which type you practice. However, some personalities are better suited to some types than others, and some forms of meditation do place a particular emphasis on certain benefits. Your main choices include these forms of meditation…

Transcendental Meditation

TM aims to reach a state of enlightenment and deep calm. It focuses on disconnecting from negativity and counteracting the busy nature of everyday life.

Heart Rhythm Meditation

HRM emphasizes breathing and the repetition of a mantra that reminds you of your oneness with all things. It is said to promote joy as well as counteracting stress.

Kundalini

Kundalini focuses on boosting energy in the major areas of the body, and on entering an altered state of consciousness in which you gain a better perspective on yourself and your place in the world.

Guided Visualization Meditation

This type of meditation helps you envision a future goal so that it seems real to you, helping you to attain it.

Law of Attraction experts believe this form of meditation changes your vibration frequency, creating the reality you desire.

Qi Gong

This aims to improve your posture and relaxes both body and mind.

It is also excellent for helping you deal with chronic pain.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation focuses on engaging with the present moment and accepting the impermanence of all things.

Meditation For Beginners: How To Meditate In 5 Steps

Meditation Step 1: Search For A Tranquil Environment

For successful meditation, you will require a quiet environment in which to practice.

Background noise, such as the television and radio, will cause distraction and disrupt your train of thought. Instead consider peaceful, tranquil and meditation friendly audio and music.

It’s also best to choose a fairly cool or warm area to meditate. Being too cold or too hot won’t allow you to concentrate, so make sure you’re in a suitable area where you won’t be disturbed.

Meditation Step 2: Sit Comfortably

To meditate, you’ll need to find a comfortable position in which to sit for ten to fifteen minutes. You don’t need to adopt a specific position if you are going to find it hard to adapt. Generally, the regular position for meditation is with crossed legs and hands on your lap. However, if you struggle with this at first, find a position you are comfortable with. Just ensure that you are not slouching.

Meditation Step 3: Breathe

Focusing on your breathing is an important process in meditation. However, you want it to be natural.

Start by closing your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let it begin with shallow breaths, and just continue to breathe for a few minutes. Your intake of breath will become deeper as you progress. Take your time to breathe slowly as there is no need to force it.

TIP: You can learn more here about breathing techniques.

Meditation Step 4: Focus On Your Thoughts

Through deep breathing, you should feel more at ease. Once that happens, turn your focus to the actual process of breathing. Be conscious of each breath that you inhale and each that you exhale. It may take a while for your mind to fully focus on your breathing. Don’t worry if you struggle with your train of thought. It’s perfectly ok for your mind to wander onto other subjects. Simply let it drift and gently try to bring your attention back to your breathing.

It may be difficult to concentrate, whether you’re a beginner at meditation or not, however, as you start to continually practice, your attention should gradually improve. If you find it easier, then use numbers to ‘count’ your breathing. So, for instance, count one to inhale and two to exhale, and continue to repeat these numbers as you breathe in and out. This can be an effective way to get into the mindset of learning to meditate.

Meditation Step 5: Open Your Eyes

When you are ready to end your meditation, open your eyes. You should be in a calm and serene state.

Meditation Tips For Beginners

When you’re first learning how to meditate, it’s important to view it as a skill that you cultivate and strengthen over time. When you’re just getting started, use these meditation tips to enhance your practice…

  • Keep an eye on your posture, ensuring your back is straight. This will help you focus, and infuse the practice with positivity.
  • Try meditating first thing in the morning. This sets a wonderful tone for the rest of your waking hours and also takes advantage of the receptive state of your mind before the rush of the day begins.
  • If you can’t relax into your meditation, try counting your breaths for a while. This will calm your thoughts, guiding the brain into a more focused state.
  • Let thoughts drift by, rather than trying to stop them. It is natural to get distracted; the important thing is to gently refocus your mind as soon as you noticed that it has wandered.
  • Meditate in silence if at all possible, in a quiet room. If there are background noises, try listening to some quiet instrumental music.
  • Commit to meditating for at least a month. This will allow you to acquire the basic skills, and begin to see the real benefits it can bring.

You may want to explore other meditation techniques in the future, such as meditating while listening to soft music or other audio.

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zen habits : breathe

By Leo Babauta

The most important habit I’ve formed in the last 10 years of forming habits is meditation. Hands down, bar none.

Meditation has helped me to form all my other habits, it’s helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about discomfort, more appreciative and attentive to everything in my life. I’m far from perfect, but it has helped me come a long way.

Probably most importantly, it has helped me understand my own mind. Before I started meditating, I never thought about what was going on inside my head — it would just happen, and I would follow its commands like an automaton. These days, all of that still happens, but more and more, I am aware of what’s going on. I can make a choice about whether to follow the commands. I understand myself better (not completely, but better), and that has given me increased flexibility and freedom.

So … I highly recommend this habit. And while I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called “practice”!

These tips aren’t aimed at helping you to become an expert … they should help you get started and keep going. You don’t have to implement them all at once — try a few, come back to this article, try one or two more.

  1. Sit for just two minutes. This will seem ridiculously easy, to just meditate for two minutes. That’s perfect. Start with just two minutes a day for a week. If that goes well, increase by another two minutes and do that for a week. If all goes well, by increasing just a little at a time, you’ll be meditating for 10 minutes a day in the 2nd month, which is amazing! But start small first.
  2. Do it first thing each morning. It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then forget to do it. Instead, set a reminder for every morning when you get up, and put a note that says “meditate” somewhere where you’ll see it.
  3. Don’t get caught up in the how — just do. Most people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. It’s just for two minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
  4. Check in with how you’re feeling. As you first settle into your meditation session, simply check to see how you’re feeling. How does your body feel? What is the quality of your mind? Busy? Tired? Anxious? See whatever you’re bringing to this meditation session as completely OK.
  5. Count your breaths. Now that you’re settled in, turn your attention to your breath. Just place the attention on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Try counting “one” as you take in the first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one.
  6. Come back when you wander. Your mind will wander. This is an almost absolute certainty. There’s no problem with that. When you notice your mind wandering, smile, and simply gently return to your breath. Count “one” again, and start over. You might feel a little frustration, but it’s perfectly OK to not stay focused, we all do it. This is the practice, and you won’t be good at it for a little while.
  7. Develop a loving attitude. When you notice thoughts and feelings arising during meditation, as they will, look at them with a friendly attitude. See them as friends, not intruders or enemies. They are a part of you, though not all of you. Be friendly and not harsh.
  8. Don’t worry too much that you’re doing it wrong. You will worry you’re doing it wrong. That’s OK, we all do. You’re not doing it wrong. There’s no perfect way to do it, just be happy you’re doing it.
  9. Don’t worry about clearing the mind. Lots of people think meditation is about clearing your mind, or stopping all thoughts. It’s not. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought factories, and we can’t just shut them down. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders.
  10. Stay with whatever arises. When thoughts or feelings arise, and they will, you might try staying with them awhile. Yes, I know I said to return to the breath, but after you practice that for a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. We tend to want to avoid feelings like frustration, anger, anxiety … but an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
  11. Get to know yourself. This practice isn’t just about focusing your attention, it’s about learning how your mind works. What’s going on inside there? It’s murky, but by watching your mind wander, get frustrated, avoid difficult feelings … you can start to understand yourself.
  12. Become friends with yourself. As you get to know yourself, do it with a friendly attitude instead of one of criticism. You’re getting to know a friend. Smile and give yourself love.
  13. Do a body scan. Another thing you can do, once you become a little better at following your breath, is focus your attention on one body part at a time. Start at the soles of your feet — how do those feel? Slowly move to your toes, the tops of your feet, your ankles, all the way to the top of your head.
  14. Notice the light, sounds, energy. Another place to put your attention, again, after you’ve practice with your breath for at least a week, is the light all around you. Just keep your eyes on one spot, and notice the light in the room you’re in. Another day, just focus on noticing sounds. Another day, try to notice the energy in the room all around you (including light and sounds).
  15. Really commit yourself. Don’t just say, “Sure, I’ll try this for a couple days.” Really commit yourself to this. In your mind, be locked in, for at least a month.
  16. You can do it anywhere. If you’re traveling or something comes up in the morning, you can do meditation in your office. In the park. During your commute. As you walk somewhere. Sitting meditation is the best place to start, but in truth, you’re practicing for this kind of mindfulness in your entire life.
  17. Follow guided meditation. If it helps, you can try following guided meditations to start with. My wife is using Tara Brach’s guided meditations, and she finds them very helpful.
  18. Check in with friends. While I like meditating alone, you can do it with your spouse or child or a friend. Or just make a commitment with a friend to check in every morning after meditation. It might help you stick with it for longer.
  19. Find a community. Even better, find a community of people who are meditating and join them. This might be a Zen or Tibetan community near you (for example), where you go and meditate with them. Or find an online group and check in with them and ask questions, get support, encourage others. My Sea Change Program has a community like that.
  20. Smile when you’re done. When you’re finished with your two minutes, smile. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re trustworthy, where you took the time to get to know yourself and make friends with yourself. That’s an amazing two minutes of your life.

Meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful. But it has truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, and continue for the rest of your life.

If you’d like help with mindfulness, check out my new Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness short ebook.

What is the best type of meditation?

The following seven examples are some of the best-known ways to meditate:

1. Loving-kindness meditation

Share on PinterestWith the many types of meditation to try, there should be one to suit most individuals.

Loving-kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. Its goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything, even a person’s enemies and sources of stress.

While breathing deeply, practitioners open their minds to receiving loving kindness. They then send messages of loving kindness to the world, to specific people, or to their loved ones.

In most forms of this meditation, the key is to repeat the message many times, until the practitioner feels an attitude of loving kindness.

Loving-kindness meditation is designed to promote feelings of compassion and love, both for others and oneself.

It can help those affected by:

  • anger
  • frustration
  • resentment
  • interpersonal conflict

This type of meditation may increase positive emotions and has been linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress or PTSD.

2. Body scan or progressive relaxation

Progressive relaxation, sometimes called body scan meditation, is meditation that encourages people to scan their bodies for areas of tension. The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to release.

During a progressive relaxation session, practitioners start at one end of their body, usually their feet, and work through the whole.

Some forms of progressive relaxation require people to tense and then relax muscles. Others encourage a person to visualize a wave, drifting over their body to release tension.

Progressive relaxation can help to promote generalized feelings of calmness and relaxation. It may also help with chronic pain. Because it slowly and steadily relaxes the body, some people use this form of meditation to help them sleep.

3. Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that urges practitioners to remain aware and present in the moment.

Rather than dwelling on the past or dreading the future, mindfulness encourages awareness of a person’s existing surroundings. Crucial to this is a lack of judgment. So, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a long wait, a practitioner will simply note the wait without judgment.

Mindfulness meditation is something people can do almost anywhere. While waiting in line at the grocery store, for example, a person might calmly notice their surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells they experience.

A form of mindfulness is involved in most kinds of meditation. Breath awareness encourages practitioners to be aware of their breathing, while progressive relaxation draws attention to areas of tension in the body.

Because mindfulness is a theme common to many forms of meditation, it has been extensively studied.

Research has found that mindfulness can:

  • reduce fixation on negative emotions
  • improve focus
  • improve memory
  • lessen impulsive, emotional reactions
  • improve relationship satisfaction

Some evidence suggests mindfulness may improve health. For example, a study of African-American men with chronic kidney disease found that mindfulness meditation could lower blood pressure.

4. Breath awareness meditation

Breath awareness is a type of mindful meditation that encourages mindful breathing.

Practitioners breathe slowly and deeply, counting their breaths or otherwise focusing on their breaths. The goal is to focus only on breathing and to ignore other thoughts that enter the mind.

As a form of mindfulness meditation, breath awareness offers many of the same benefits as mindfulness. Those include reduced anxiety, improved concentration, and greater emotional flexibility.

5. Kundalini yoga

Kundalini yoga is a physically active form of meditation that blends movements with deep breathing and mantras. People usually learn from a teacher or do a class. However, someone can learn the poses and mantras at home.

Similarly to other forms of yoga, kundalini yoga can improve physical strength and reduce pain. It may also improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.

A 2008 study of veterans with chronic low-back pain, for instance, found that yoga reduced pain, increased energy, and improved overall mental health.

6. Zen meditation

Zen meditation, sometimes called Zazen is a form of meditation that can be part of Buddhist practice. Many Zen practitioners study under a teacher because this kind of meditation involves specific steps and postures.

The goal is to find a comfortable position, focus on breathing, and mindfully observe one’s thoughts without judgment.

Again, this form of meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation but requires more discipline and practice. People may prefer it if they are seeking both relaxation and a new spiritual path.

7. Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation is a spiritual form of meditation where practitioners remain seated and breathe slowly. The goal is to transcend or rise above the person’s current state of being.

During a meditation session, practitioners focus on a mantra or a repeated word or series of words. A teacher determines the mantra based on a complex set of factors, sometimes including the year the practitioner was born, and the year the teacher was trained.

An alternative allows people to choose their mantra. This more contemporary version is not technically Transcendental Meditation, though it may look substantially similar. A practitioner might decide to repeat “I am not afraid of public speaking” while meditating.

People who practice Transcendental Meditation report both spiritual experiences and heightened mindfulness.

I have been teaching peaceful-abiding meditation for 14 years now, and over that time I have realized that there are many misconceptions about what to do with your mind during meditation. If you have ever sat down in a cross-legged posture, began focusing on your breath, and immediately wondered, “What should I do about all these thoughts?” this is a simple answer.

Before You Meditate
For most of us, we run around all day letting our mind flit from one topic to another like a hummingbird surrounded by bird-feeders. To turn to this hummingbird and say, “Quick! Just sit still!” wouldn’t work. In fact, it would only freak the bird out.

The same goes for us as we enter meditation. If you run in the door after a long day at work, look at your phone, realize you have 15 minutes to meditate, grab some cushions and plop down, your mind will likely still be very speedy. If your mind normally runs at 100 miles per hour, see if you can gently nudge that down to at least 60 miles per hour before beginning to meditate. That might mean having a cup of tea, changing into non-work clothes, or reading a few pages of a meditation book before you begin. Taking these few minutes to unwind allows you to transition into your meditation practice so you enter already beginning to feel a bit spacious.

RELATED: The Workout That Helps You Leave Stress Behind

While You Meditate
One of the common mistakes people make when beginning a meditation practice is believing that it is simply a way to turn off your mind. Your mind is a radiant, brilliant, amazing thing and there is no off switch. Meditation is not about zoning out and becoming a vegetable. You can befriend yourself in meditation, use it to transcend your usual experience, even have a powerful realization depending on what technique you are doing, but let’s be clear that your mind will remain “on.”

Another common misconception is that thoughts are bad and we should rid ourselves of thoughts. Our mind cannot stop producing thoughts. It’s simply what it does. Often when people discover that there is no off switch in their mind and thoughts continue to come they get discouraged and think they are the worst meditator of all time. There have been thousands of years of meditators and I promise you, you are not the worst. Not by a long shot.

Many types of meditation are not about getting rid of thoughts but about establishing a healthier relationship to what is going on in the mind. One of my favorite words for meditation is the Tibetan term “gom,” which can be translated as “become familiar with.” In other words, meditation is a way to become more familiar with what is going on in your mind and more familiar with the types of thoughts that come up throughout your day.

If you engage in shamatha, peaceful-abiding meditation, the instruction is to return your attention to your breathing, over and over again. A big thought will pop up and distract you from the breath. It’s your job to gently return your focus once more to feeling the simple flow of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. If it is helpful you could even silently say “thinking” to yourself.

The process of labeling your thoughts as “thinking” is not to dismiss them or chase them away like you might swat away a fly: “Shoo! Don’t bother me!” The point is to acknowledge the thought. You notice that it came up, inwardly nod at it by saying “thinking” to yourself and, as if it were someone you saw passing by in the street, having acknowledged them you continue on your way, in this case by returning your attention to the breath.

By being extremely gentle with yourself and returning your attention, continuously, to your breathing, you prevent that hummingbird mindset I mentioned earlier. You are, perhaps for the first time all day, focusing on just one thing: the breath. Thoughts about life, fantasies, strong emotions, discursive and subtle emotions will come up. In all these cases, we look at the thought, acknowledge it, and come back to the breath.

I have off-handedly mentioned being gentle a few times now and, at the risk of kicking a dead horse, I want to directly ask that you be very kind with yourself while you meditate. It is common to acknowledge a thought and come back to the breath, only to have that same thought come up again immediately. Where you may begin by gently saying, “thinking” to yourself, after a few repetitions you end up inwardly yelling, “THINKING!” The former carries the subtext of “It’s okay. You got distracted. Come on back to the breath buddy.” The latter carries the subtext of “You jerk! How is it that you are so f-ing bad at this thing? What a loser you are that you can’t even stay with the breath.” We judge ourselves in so many areas of our lives; please leave that self-judgment at the door when you begin meditating.

I believe that the inner tone you use with yourself in meditation ends up being the tone you treat yourself with for the rest of your day. If you can use meditation as a time to befriend yourself, to be very kind and sweet to yourself, then you will likely be gentle to yourself for much of the rest of the day. You have attuned your inner voice to give yourself a break when things don’t go the way you want and to return to what’s coming up right now, instead of dwelling on what just happened or how it will affect you in the future.

After You Meditate
When you get up from your meditation, don’t immediately check your email or rush off to your next appointment. Take a moment to stretch, have a glass of water, or take a short walk. Leave your mind at whatever speed it has ended up at, instead of hitting the gas pedal and ramping it back up to 100 miles per hour. Transitioning out of the meditation practice in this way allows you to maintain a clear and spacious mind, one that accommodates anything.

Photo by Hailey Wist; Outfitted by YOGASMOGA

The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Photo: fizkes /

If you think meditation is something only Buddhist monks (or people with lives a lot less crazed than yours) can do, think again.

Not only can anyone meditate, but there are myriad health and well-being benefits from a simple, daily meditation practice. For starters, meditation can decrease blood pressure as well as cortisol (a stress hormone) and cholesterol; increase creativity; reduce anxiety; and strengthen your immune system. A study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that meditators produced significantly more antibodies to a flu vaccine than did nonmeditators. The same research also showed that those who meditated were calmer and had a more positive emotional state.

How to Start Meditating

Most people who try meditation for the first time have a very specific goal: to reduce stress. And it’s a terrific tool for that. The bonus is that the calm you experience seeps into other moments of your day. Before you know it, you find yourself with a greater, more-natural sense of balance, more compassion for yourself and others, and a more robust sense of humor. Over time, you may notice that you see the “big picture” of your life more clearly and are able to make better decisions about it. Meditation also can help you connect with your spiritual side and possibly to a higher power if your belief system includes that.

Begin to meditate by learning one simple technique and practicing it every day. There is no right or wrong way to do it; whatever resonates for you is the method you’ll want to return to. For one, you can try learning to meditate using one of these beginner-friendly meditation apps. If you’d rather stay away from your devices while you meditate, try this basic how-to technique, adapted from Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian:

  1. Sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Don’t slouch, but your back doesn’t need to be ramrod-straight either. At first, you may want to try sitting against a wall to support your back. Use extra pillows under your knees or anywhere else to make you comfortable.
  2. Try lying down, if sitting to meditate is unappealing. Miriam Austin, author of Meditation for Wimps, recommends lying on the floor with your calves and feet resting on a chair seat.
  3. Put on music, if that helps to calm you before beginning to meditate. Turn it off once you begin.
  4. Set a digital (non-ticking) timer. Start with five minutes and work your way up to 10, then 15, and eventually 20. It will probably take weeks or months to lengthen the time you practice. Try not to put yourself on a schedule. Whatever your pace, it’s fine.
  5. Breathe normally through your nose, with your mouth closed. Your eyes can be open or closed. Focus on the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, or on the rise and fall of your belly.
  6. When you notice your mind wandering, bring it gently back to the breath. Be careful not to drift off; this will be tempting, especially if you’re lying down. While shutting off your mind is not the goal of meditation, neither is judging the meditative process. No matter what feelings or thoughts you have, simply bring your focus back to the breath again. And again.

As with anything new, once you’ve tried meditation, you’re bound to hit a snag or two. Here are six of the most common barriers to developing a regular meditation practice and how to get through them:

Meditation Problem: “My mind races.”

Why it happens: That’s the way your mind naturally works.

How to work with it: Try counting your breaths, or repeating a word or phrase (such as “peace” or “one”) silently to yourself. “The practice of meditation is not about suppressing thought, but surpassing it. Observing your breath is one way to approach this,” says Victor Davich, author of 8-Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind, Change Your Life. You may want to try a guided meditation to quiet your mind and develop your focus. (Also try these meditation apps for beginners to try all different types of guided meditation.)

Meditation Problem: “I fall asleep.”

Why it happens: It’s a natural response when you’re relaxed.

How to work with it: If you tend to fall asleep, try sitting up while meditating. “It’s normal to feel sluggish when we let go of daily concerns,” says Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. “Remember to keep your spine straight, and try opening your eyes.” Focus softly on a spot a few feet in front of you. (If you want to fall asleep, try this five-minute yoga meditation before bed.)

Meditation Problem: “I can’t sit still.”

Why it happens: Your body-and mind-are restless.

How to work with it: Try a walking meditation: Walk at your usual pace or slower, indoors or out. Synchronize the rhythm of your breathing with your steps. Gaze ahead calmly with your eyes lowered. Notice the contact of your feet with the ground. Focus on your breath and on walking. (Bonus: Health Benefits You Can Get from Walking Just 30 Minutes a Day)

Meditation Problem: My back (or knees or butt) hurts.

Why it happens: You may need to adjust your body, or you may just be tired or restless. Remember that it’s fine to meditate sitting in a chair or lying down (as long as you don’t fall asleep).

How to work with it: “Just sitting still is an enormous challenge for most of us,” Bodian says. “If you’re truly experiencing an urgent pain, move to a more stable position. But notice if it is just restlessness and if so, try to sit with it.” You also may want to try a walking meditation.

Meditation Problem: I don’t have time to meditate.

Why it happens: You’re busy and feeling overwhelmed.

How to work with it: You can carve out the time. Really. Set your alarm clock to get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning or try meditating before bed instead of watching the late-night news, Bodian suggests. The most important thing is to meditate regularly-even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day. Davich agrees: “All you need is time and consistency. Quite simply, meditation can help you become more aware and more present. And that makes life more enjoyable.” (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care)

Meditation Problem: I don’t feel anything special.

Why it happens Your preconceived notions about what meditation is may be getting in your way.

How to work with it: Aim simply for increased awareness of your breath. Try to avoid unrealistic expectations that something monumental is going to occur. Bodian says, “In some ways, meditation is like building muscle. The repetitions with weights are not exactly exciting, but you know the ultimate goal is valuable.” (You can also try these breath work techniques that act as a sort of meditation.)

When all else fails, “remember to have patience with yourself,” says Salzberg.

Your experience of meditation is very personal. For some people, it is simply becoming aware of the thoughts that have always raced through their minds. For others, meditating is a feeling of intense concentration, and for others, it is a deeply relaxed yet highly alert state. The truth is, each meditator probably gets a taste of each of these states-and many others-in the course of a session.

The bottom line? No matter what you are feeling, you simply can’t do it wrong.

Photo: JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images

The Cut’s guide to self-improvement without spending a million dollars.

Like its sibling mindfulness, meditation was a hot topic in 2015, with mainstream, non-hippie celebrities extolling benefits like improved focus and happiness. You might be genuinely interested in trying it (it’s free!), except for that whole not-having-enough time thing.

One of the most popular practices, Transcendental Meditation, typically calls for 20 minutes of silent self-reflection twice a day — which can feel like one more task to add to an already unrealistic to-do list. But Pedram Shojai, doctor of Oriental medicine (O.M.D.) and author of the forthcoming book The Urban Monk, says that’s the wrong way of looking at it.

“People don’t realize that it’s a reduction process, not an addition,” says the former Taoist monk. If you’re more present for everyday tasks, not only will you be more efficient and calm, you’ll also be more likely to say no to things that aren’t worth your time.

Five-minute chunks of meditation are well worth the effort for your prefrontal cortex. This area of your brain is called upon when we’re asked to regulate ourselves, says Lynn C. Waelde, Ph.D., professor of clinical psychology and director of the meditation and psychology emphasis at Palo Alto University. Studies suggest that meditation activates it and thereby could help a person negate poor impulses. In Waelde’s own research, when people caring for a family member with dementia practiced meditation, they had fewer feelings of depression and anxiety and were more confident in their ability to rein in negative thoughts than a control group.

“Mindfulness and meditation techniques are designed to hit that sweet spot, helping people become more aware of themselves and simultaneously be able to tolerate the contents of their feelings and their thinking,” Waelde explains. Not being able to regulate our behavior is “at the heart of a lot of unhappiness and disorders that people experience.” (It should be noted that though meditation can help people make positive changes, it isn’t a replacement for therapy.)

The “Doing” Machine
Many of us feel like we’re programmed to be doing things constantly, and that’s hard to shut off. “A lot of people I work with feel as though they’re being yanked one way or the other all the time by their mind,” Waelde says. By fostering a process called decentering, meditation can help people gain power over their thoughts and feelings, she says. “You take a step back and say, ‘I’m anxious now but I know if I take a deep breath and let it go, it will pass. It’s not something that I can’t tolerate.’”

When you sit quietly and watch your mind, you start to observe what Shojai calls “the doing machine” and you become hyperaware, as he says, of just “how fricking crazy you are.” You’ll never stop your brain from churning, but with time you’ll realize that you are not those pinballing thoughts. “If you’re just listening to all the noise in your brain and being reactive, you’re gonna lose it. And that’s normally where we live,” Shojai says. “Being able to find a place of stability outside of that noise means first disengaging and understanding that it’s noise and it’s not you.”

As Shojai explains, “you release the energy that you’ve plugged into that doing machine and then you only do the things that are worth doing.” If your life is a garden, you only have room for so many plants to flourish, he says.

The Nitty-Gritty
So what exactly does it mean to meditate? It bears repeating that it’s not about “turning off your thoughts” or “doing nothing” — it’s about being present. Sit down, become mindful, follow your breath, and engage in the moment. When your mind starts to wander, Shojai suggests doing a scan of sorts. Ask yourself, “What am I doing right now, besides breathing?” Whatever it is, stop.

Your thoughts will definitely swarm back in, but your task is to not follow them. “Stay in your mind and watch it, but don’t go with it. You don’t have to wrestle with it,” he says. It’s about the process of becoming aware of what you’re doing and then disengaging. “When people notice that their attention is wandering, that is actually the practice: to observe what your mind is doing,” Waelde says.

You might find the endless thought stream frustrating in the beginning, but trying to will it away won’t help. “It’s more an easy, gentle process of saying, ‘I’m going to redirect my attention now,’” Waelde says. There are simple things you can do to help anchor your focus, like counting or “following” your breaths, repeating a mantra, or paying attention to the sensations of your body, like the feelings in your feet or hands.

Shojai suggests repeating this sequence for five minutes: Inhale for the count of four, hold at the top of the breath for two seconds, exhale for four seconds, and again hold the breath for two seconds. Some people prefer to imagine the flow of their breath as it comes in through their nose, past their throat, into their lungs, and then back out again. Others silently repeat a mantra as they breathe — like “Hum” on the inhale and “Sah” on the exhale, used in Waelde’s Inner Resources meditation program.

Would it be good to do this for 20 minutes with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room? Of course, that’s the gold standard, Shojai says, but taking a few minutes to be present in the room you’re in is a great start.

“Twenty minutes twice a day is too rigid for most people right now,” he says. Instead, he suggests starting a habit of meditating every time you find yourself having to wait for something. “People get pissed off, like, ‘I can’t believe there’s three people in line in front of me.’ Well, there’s your five minutes to meditate instead of whipping out your phone.”

Instead of allocating additional time for your new habit, just work it into the time you have. For instance, if you’re already going to the gym, focus on your breathing and be mindful of every single squat or curl. Try a five-minute practice while you’re walking, or sitting on the train, or even driving, like Shojai does. Every little bit helps.

That said, Shojai admits that it is helpful to “front-load” some time in getting to know your consciousness. It’s sort of like dating, he says. When you’re first getting to know someone, you generally have longer conversations. Then, later on in the relationship, you can have meaningful interactions in less time, like while you’re waiting in line for your 2 p.m. coffee.

For some people, the most realistic time to meditate is when they first wake up, but others might have no problem following a scheduled prompt in their phone. (Shojai says if you have a specific goal, like 30 minutes daily, it needs to be in your calendar; otherwise it just won’t happen.)

If you require more instruction, there are plenty of guided-meditation apps to try. A real, live teacher can also be very beneficial. “It’s a little bit like playing the piano or learning to be a really good basketball player — could you learn these things from an app? Some people can and it’s brilliant, but I couldn’t,” says Waelde.

The Power of Persistence
Regardless of how much time you’re spending with your inner self, both Shojai and Waelde agree that meditation should be a daily practice. It is, after all, a skill that requires honing, not a button you press when you need help. “These techniques have become so popular and hyped that sometimes people may have the expectation that they’re kind of magical or instant,” Waelde says. “They may try them for a short period and then stop if they’re not getting a dramatic benefit.”

Waelde compares meditation to toning a muscle. “It’s an inner strength, just like people go to the gym and work on their core strength,” she says. “The more you practice, the stronger you get and the more fluid your practice is in your daily life.” After all, the point is to learn how to be present and then harness that focus in everything you do. “Do it every day, and over time you’ll become very strong on the inside.”

And remember that the goal is a more enjoyable life, Shojai says. “Do what you’re doing when you’re doing it. That’s meditation, that’s the key — to be present and be effective so that you have time to play.”

Beginners Guide to Meditation

How to Meditate for Beginners: let’s get you started!

You’ve read about the many benefits of meditation, you’ve got friends or family members who swear by their 20 or 45 minutes a day, you’ve heard celebrities say they couldn’t live without it, and now you’re ready to take the plunge! But wait, there’s a hitch, you think. What, exactly, are you as a rank beginner supposed to be doing?

That’s why we’re here! And we’re so glad you’ve joined us! Read on for some basic mindfulness meditation instructions that will get you sitting in no time flat.

What not to expect

Want to be like those memes of blissful meditators by the sea who seem to be communing with the universe with nary a care – or a misplaced thought – in the world? Not going to happen. Want to sit down, set your timer, and enjoy a 20-minute thought-free bliss bubble? Nope. Hoping your chakras will immediately begin whirling and twirling? Unlikely. Think you’ll start levitating and float away, leaving this mundane existence behind you? Implausible, thank heavens. Meditation is much more down-to-earth than that.

What to expect

Meditation is about connecting with the completeness of the here and now. The way we teach it, it’s very grounded. You sit straight and still, observe, let go, come back, and discover the rich fullness of the present moment. Since you’re not giving in to distractions, you have the space to connect with mind’s creativity and become aware of the stream of thoughts and emotions it produces. And what are you going to do about these thoughts and emotions? You’re going to acknowledge them without giving in to fascination or frustration, and let them simply go back to where they came from, like a wave that arises and naturally and inevitably merges back into the sea.

Why would you do such a thing? Because meditation is calming. It’s sane. It comes with a host of benefits for body and mind. It will help you discern which of the thoughts and emotions that arise in your mind are worthy of your attention. It puts you back in touch with your basic goodness. The qualities you develop through mindfulness and awareness meditation make your world a better place. And so much more.

How to meditate – for beginners

Meditation is popular, and there are many good meditation techniques for beginners and more advanced practitioners alike. We recommend starting simple, and that’s what we’re going to show you. If you’re inspired to learn more, Mindworks App is designed for you. For beginners, we especially recommend the Mindworks M7: Learn to Meditate series led by acclaimed meditation mensch Bart Mendel: basic, easy-to-follow meditation instructions that will get you started, teach you different ways to sit, and give you everything you need to keep going. Mindworks App offers a free 14-day trial period. Once you’ve signed up, you can look forward to daily instructions that will effectively take the guesswork out of sitting.

The bones

  • Find a quiet place and settle on a comfortable chair, bench or cushion.
  • You may want to decide how much time you’d like to devote to sitting in the beginning. Consistency is key. Even a few minutes every day will get you off to a great start.
  • Take a moment to check in with your posture. Try to find a position that allows you to keep your back straight.
  • Set aside your industrious conceptual mind. Breathe. Tune in to the feeling of being present. Take stock of your physical presence as you breathe.
  • Note physical tensions and mental concerns. Acknowledge them with kindness and invite them to relax and release.
  • Tune in to the process of breathing. Feel the breath in your belly. Don’t concern yourself with analyzing or modifying your respiration, just feel it and center your awareness on the ebb and flow.
  • Breathe in: you’re aware that you’re breathing in. Breathe out: you’re aware that you’re breathing out.
  • When you notice that your mind has wandered, gently but firmly bring it back to the breath.
  • This is mindfulness: training in awareness, acknowledging, letting go and coming home to the breath and the present moment.
  • When you are ready to end your meditation session, relax, stretch, and enjoy a moment of gratefulness before picking your busy life back up where you left it, renewed and refreshed.

Check out our video on Take Your Seat – how to find an upright and comfortable posture for meditation:

Guide: Everything you need to start meditating

Takeaway: You will become more productive if you meditate, and this comprehensive guide will teach you how.

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes, 16s.

My goal with this guide is to give you everything you need to start a meditation practice to become more productive. Meditation is a simple practice, but it’s one that seems intimidating on the surface. This article focuses on meditation as it relates to productivity, and reduces meditation to its most basic elements. My goal with it is to provide a simple, secular overview of everything you need to start meditating.

If you’re looking for a book to learn to meditate, I highly recommend either Mindfulness In Plain English, or Real Happiness.

Meditation will make you more productive. It might sound strange that sitting still and doing nothing for a period of time will make you more productive, but it’s true. Before diving into what to do, it’s worth going over why you should meditate in the first place.

I’ve combined benefits observed by neurological research with my own personal observations over the three years I’ve been meditating (which are slightly less scientific). Some benefits of meditation include:

  • Meditation has great calming effects. Research has shown that EEG activity actually decreases during meditation.1 Meditation also helps you to recharge so you have more energy throughout the day.
  • The practice increases the blood flow in your brain, and according to one neurophysiologist, “rewires the circuitry in your brain”. 2
  • It’s been proven that people who meditate need less sleep.3
  • Meditation makes your brain age slower and increases the amount of grey matter in your brain.4 Grey matter is responsible for muscle control, seeing, hearing, memory, emotions, and speech.5
  • Meditation makes it much easier to focus and achieve flow, that feeling of being completely immersed and energized by something. It also allows you to procrastinate less, and get more done in the same amount of time.
  • The practice has been even shown to boost students’ test scores (by 11% in one study)!6
  • Meditation helps your mind defragment your thoughts so you can make better sense of them, and step away from them to gain perspective.

Needless to say, there are a ton of benefits to adopting a regular meditation practice, and these are just a few of them.

Meditation is a very simple practice that people overcomplicate. This article focuses on breathing meditation, where you focus on your breath. (Imagine that!)

The basic idea of meditation is simple. Every time your mind begins to shift its spotlight away from your breath and you get lost in thought, you simply bring your attention back to your breath. And then you repeat this again and again until your meditation timer sounds. The point is that every time you bring your attention back to your breath, you work out your “attention muscle”, if you want to call it that. Then, over time your focus, concentration, and attention span improve, in addition to the plethora of other benefits mentioned above.

That’s the basic idea of meditation.

You will need two things to get started, but you should have both of them already.

You don’t need much to meditate, but you should have two things:

  1. Something to sit on. There is such thing as standing meditation and walking meditation, but sitting meditation is the most common and the best place to start.
  2. A timer. Since meditation is all about working out your “attention muscle”, having to check a clock would somewhat defeat the purpose of meditation, since it would constantly distract your attention away from your breath.

1. Something to sit on

There are three options for something to sit on during meditation.

A chair (good if you’re starting out or have back problems)

Chairs are great for if you’re just starting to meditate, or if you have back problems and find sitting on a meditation cushion uncomfortable. If you’re new to meditation, I recommend using a chair the first few times instead of going out and buying a meditation cushion. Once you routinize meditation and become more comfortable with it, then I would recommend purchasing a meditation cushion; using a chair at first will help you ease your way into practice.

A meditation cushion (zafu). I use mine on top of a soft mat to make it easier on my feet.

A meditation cushion (most common)

A meditation cushion (named a “zafu”, pictured right) is the most popular thing people sit on during meditation. The great thing about a meditation cushion is it is easiest to sit in an upright position when you’re on one, which improves your alertness and the quality of your meditation (and hence, how productive your sit is). With a chair or a meditation bench, you may be tempted to slump, which can cause you to lose focus.

A meditation bench (more comfortable than a cushion)

If you’re taller or find a meditation cushion too uncomfortable, it’s worth giving a meditation bench a shot. It will still force you to sit upright, and you won’t have the urge to slump as much as you do on a chair. Meditation benches also absorb a lot of the weight you would have otherwise applied to your legs, which makes meditation much more comfortable.

Recommendation

I recommend that you sit on a chair the first several times you meditate, and then switch to a meditation cushion (zafu) after you become more comfortable with your practice.

A meditation cushion will keep you the most alert during your meditation, but you likely don’t have one lying around your house already. It also takes your body a while to adapt to sitting on one, which will make you sore when you first start out. If you’re relatively fit and healthy, though, I recommend using a cushion for the alertness it will give you.

If you have leg problems, or are just looking for something a little more comfortable than a meditation cushion, I recommend using a bench. If you have back problems, I recommend using a chair – but be careful, because though chairs are more comfortable, it’s easier to lose focus on one.

Meditate for iPhone.

2. A timer

The second thing you’ll need is a timer.

I recommend that you simply use your phone, but just make sure to turn your phone’s radio off before you begin meditating. Pretty much every phone has a timer built-in, and if you have a smartphone, chances are there is a great meditation app for it too.

  • Insight Timer is a good pick, and there’s a free version of it available for iPhone and Android. You can even see who around the world is meditating when you are!
  • If you’re willing to pony up a few bucks ($3.99), Meditate for iPhone is a good pick, and it’s the one I use. It’s dead-simple, and displays a simple page of stats after you finish.

I wouldn’t recommend buying an actual, physical meditation timer. When a free app that works on your phone accomplishes the exact same thing, I don’t personally see a point.

When I first started to meditate, I remember being dumbfounded at what exactly I had to do after I sat down. Two things especially confused me: how do I sit, and what do I think about? Those are essentially the only things you need to worry about when it comes to meditation.

How to sit

  • The biggest thing to remember is to keep your back straight. Keep your back erect (if you’re in a chair it’s best not to rest your back on the back of the chair), and keep an upright posture. This keeps you alert, and allows you to concentrate more easily on your breath.
  • Your eyes can be either closed or open. Again, the goal of this whole “meditation” thing is to work out your attention muscle. If you find you can concentrate better on your breath with your eyes closed, as many people do, then it’s probably best to keep them closed. If you’re tired and find yourself dozing off when you close your eyes, try opening them slightly and focusing your gaze softly on a space on the floor in front of you. For me, this becomes distracting, so I keep them closed and only open them if I’m tired.
  • Don’t worry about your hands. Some people like to form circles with their thumb and another finger, but that doesn’t really matter, in my opinion. I usually just rest my hands, palm down, on my legs, wherever they feel the most comfortable.
  • Cross your legs however you want. I usually cross my legs in front of me, and I think that works fine for most people. If you want to fold your feet like a pretzel you can, but if you use meditation to strengthen your attention muscle, it may be easiest to keep to a simple, cross-legged pose.
  • Look slightly downward, even if your eyes are closed. This opens up your chest. Again, though, find a place that’s comfortable – one that keeps you upright and opens up your chest at the same time.
  • The biggest point I can make about how to sit is to find a pose and posture that’s both comfortable and keeps you upright. The guidelines above work best for me and most of the people I know, but they may not work for you. The most comfortable meditation pose will give you so little alertness that it will put you to sleep, and the least comfortable pose will keep you alert, but at the expense of your comfort. The best advice I can give is to try to find a place in between that works the best for you.

What to do

The attention you give the different things around you is a spotlight, and all day you move it around and point it at different things, usually without thinking too much about the fact that you’re doing this. As you move it around, you point it at everything you give attention to in your life, from your smartphone, to a conversation you’re having, to a report you’re writing. And a lot of the time, you direct it at more than one thing at a time. Actually, most of the time you do.7

Meditation takes that “spotlight” that is your attention and it points it directly at your breath.

So that’s all well and good, but what do you do, exactly? Six things.

  1. Get comfortable. Open the timer on your phone, and get into an upright and comfortable posture. Dim the lights a bit, or shut them off completely to help you focus better.
  2. Start your timer.
  3. Bring your attention/focus to your breath. This is what meditation is all about, and this is what makes meditation both difficult and worthwhile. In this third step, close your mouth and focus entirely on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose. You can focus on any element of your breath that you want – from how the air feels as it enters and exists your nose, to how the air feels as you inflate and deflate your lungs, to the sensation under your nose as you breathe in and out, to the sound you make as you breathe. Don’t force your breathing here – just breathe naturally and observe your breath without thinking too much about it.
  4. Don’t think. This is the hard part. Don’t analyze your breath; just bring your attention and focus to your breath, without thinking about it or analyzing it.
  5. Bring your attention back to your mind when it wanders. And it will. I’ve been meditating for 3-4 years for 30 minutes a day, and my mind still wanders sometimes. When your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring your attention back to your breath once you realize that your mind has wandered. You may not clue in at first that your mind has started thinking again, but when you do, gently bring your attention back. Don’t be hard on yourself during this stage. Just gently bring your attention back.
  6. Again, bring your mind back when it wanders. When your mind begins to think, gently bring your attention back to only your breath. When your mind begins to think about how boring meditation is, gently bring your attention back to your breath. When your mind becomes restless, bring in your attention again. Keep doing this until your meditation timer sounds.
  • Meditating for 10 minutes a day is infinitely better than meditating for 70 minutes once a week. Try to meditate frequently (every day if possible), even if that just means sitting for a few minutes.
  • Start small. If you try to meditate for 30 minutes right from the start, I can almost guarantee that you will get frustrated and discouraged. I recommend starting with five minutes, and only increasing that time when you’re comfortable. Even if you sit for five minutes, and you find that your mind wanders the whole time, you will still receive incredible benefits from meditation.
  • Pick a gentle alarm. If your timer is loud and jarring, anticipating the alarm will distract your attention during meditation.
  • Meditate in a quiet place. Having less distractions around you will naturally allow you to concentrate better, and will make your meditation much more productive.
  • It’s easiest to lose your attention during your out-breath. Your in-breath is very pronounced and easy to concentrate on, and most people’s minds wander on their out-breaths (me included). This is worth keeping in mind.
  • Be easy on yourself when your mind wanders. It’s easy to become frustrated with yourself when your mind wanders, but don’t. Your meditations will be much more productive when you gently bring your attention back.
  • If you can’t concentrate, try counting. Count your breaths, until you reach five, and then start again. I use this trick when I’m having a tough time concentrating.

My goal with this guide was to give you everything you need to start up a meditation practice. Meditation is a simple practice, but it’s one that seems intimidating on the surface. If you are have questions about breathing meditation, please post a comment below, or tweet at me! There is also a twitter hashtag, #OMCru (which stands for Online Meditation Crew). I know of a lot of people that follow this hashtag, so if you post a meditation question with it, you are bound to get an answer.

Thanks a lot for reading, and happy meditating!

Zafu image at top by Roberto Poveda.

Beginners can find meditation frustrating. These top 10 beginner’s techniques and tips make meditation easier to start and to stay with.

What You’ll Learn Here

Meditation can make you healthier, happier, and more productive.

It can even help you live longer.

But mastering your thoughts has never been easy and our multitasking, sensory-bombarding world makes it harder than ever.

Meditation is not complicated, but it’s not easy either.

Read on for five of the best meditation techniques for beginners, plus tips to help beginners succeed with their meditation.

The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

Meditation usually involves sitting quietly, often paying attention to your breath, but it doesn’t have to.

There are movement-based techniques like yoga and walking meditations as well.

There are endless ways of classifying the many different kinds of meditation, so don’t be daunted if you see terms you aren’t familiar with like Kundalini or binaural beats meditations.

Mindfulness meditations are the most popular and straightforward types of meditation.

They involve just actively working at quieting the mind, usually by focusing on the breath or on a phrase.

Technique 1: Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is the most simple, basic form of meditation.

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe naturally, preferably through your nose.

Focus your attention on your breath, but do not try to change or control it.

When a random thought barges into your head, simply label it as “a thought” and bring your attention back to your breath.

This meditation actually trains your brain to stop jumping around and stay focused on the present.

Technique 2: Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation involves sitting quietly while silently repeating a word or phrase called a mantra to yourself.

If you say it out loud, it becomes a chanting meditation.

A traditional mantra is “so, hum.”

Think to yourself “so” as you inhale and “hum” as you exhale.

But you can simply say “in, out” to yourself if you’d prefer.

At first, thoughts will pop into your head constantly.

That’s expected and normal.

The important thing is to not get discouraged, but just notice that your mind has drifted and gently bring yourself back to the present.

Technique 3: Walking Meditation

Movement meditations are great for those who have trouble sitting still.

You may want to consider a moving meditation if you have anxiety, since some people find meditation makes their anxiety worse. (1)

The simplest moving meditation is a walking meditation which can be done anywhere, anytime.

A walking meditation is not the same thing as simply taking a walk.

The difference is both your attention and intention.

Walking while listening to an audio book or talking on the phone doesn’t count!

Consciously putting one foot in front of the other while concentrating on the sounds of nature, the feeling of the ground under your feet, and the sensation of the weather on your skin — that’s a walking meditation.

If you are lucky enough to live or work near one, walking a labyrinth is a wonderful way to do your walking meditation.

If you live in the US or Canada, you can check this labyrinth locator to see if there’s one near you.

As you walk, just as when you sit and meditate, unwanted thoughts will pop into your mind.

Gently remove them.

Other excellent movement meditations you may want to look into are yoga, tai chi, and qi gong.

As long as you are mindful, you can turn any activity into a meditation.

Think of the famous “wax on, wax off” scene in the movie Karate Kid, where polishing a car became a moving meditation.

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Technique 4: Kirtan Kriya Meditation

Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, but don’t let the mystical sounding name daunt you.

This meditation is simple and has science to back it up.

During this meditation, sit comfortably and repeat the sounds “sa, ta, na, ma.”

You can say the sounds out loud or to yourself.

Kirtan Kriya Meditation

As you say the sounds, move your fingers in succession like this:

On “sa,” touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.

On “ta,” touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.

On “na,” touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.

On “ma,” touch your little fingers to your thumbs.

Research has confirmed that doing this meditation for 12 minutes per day increases blood flow to two parts of the brain involved in retrieving memories.

It can improve memory in otherwise healthy people and has proved useful even for those with Alzheimer’s.

Other proven benefits include improvements in mood and sleep.

You can learn more about the proven benefits of this meditation in Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation’s white paper Yoga and Medical Meditation as Alzheimer’s Prevention Medicine.

Technique 5: Binaural Beats Meditation

If you’ve tried mindfulness meditations, but felt fidgety, frustrated, and unfocused, you aren’t alone.

Quieting your “random thought generator” is hard!

If you’ve read the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love (or seen the movie), you’ll recall that even when the author was living in an ashram in India, she still found meditation a frustrating struggle.

She felt continually pressured that she wasn’t doing it right, which made her feel stressed out and bad about herself.

Kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it?

If meditating in an ashram is hard, no wonder it’s hard for you to squeeze it into a hectic modern life!

The most common complaints about traditional meditation include feelings of impatience, frustration, and boredom, and not getting the desired results.

This understandably leaves many people, even when convinced of the many health benefits, wondering if they are wasting their time.

If this sounds like you, there’s a different kind of meditation you can try.

One that most beginners find easier and more rewarding.

Related on Be Brain Fit —
Binaural Beats: A Meditation Shortcut

In recent years, sound technologies have been created that induce the same brainwave state of consciousness as traditional meditation.

Binaural beats meditation programs are one widely used technology.

The major advantages of this high-tech approach over traditional meditation are that it is super-easy and results come quickly.

All you need to do is listen to sound files on headphones to bring about a meditative brainwave state.

Zen 12 is a binaural beats meditation that offers a free download so that you can give it a try.

The Top 5 Meditation Tips for Beginners

Now you know the best meditation techniques for beginners, but the success of your meditation practice is not assured.

That’s because not everyone who starts meditating sticks with it.

To understand why people don’t continue with meditation, Mindvalley, one of the world’s largest personal development websites, surveyed 400,000 of their customers.

This group was certainly aware of the benefits of meditation.

So why didn’t all of them meditate? What stopped them?

The top reasons survey respondents didn’t stay with meditation were:

  • They couldn’t tame their mental chatter.
  • They couldn’t focus.
  • They felt physically restless.
  • It took too long to see results.

Another Mindvalley survey found that the top reasons people quit meditating was a lack of time and a feeling that it was just too hard. (2)

Do any of these sound familiar?

Fortunately, we’ve got beginner’s meditation tips that erase these excuses.

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Tip 1: The Puppy Technique

My all-time favorite beginner’s meditation tip is this analogy from meditation teacher Jack Kornfield, author of Meditation for Beginners.

The Puppy Technique

Monitoring your thoughts is like training a puppy.

You say ‘stay’ but after a few breaths, the puppy wanders away.

You go back and gently pick it up and bring it back.

The beauty of this tip is to remind yourself to be kind and patient with yourself when your thoughts wander.

Because they inevitably will.

Tip 2: Make Meditation a Daily Habit

The main reason people don’t stick with it is that they fail to turn meditation into a daily habit.

As anyone who has tried to quit a bad habit can attest, a habit, once formed, is easy to stick with and hard to break.

Research shows that beginners who meditate daily for 11 days were 90% likely to continue. (3)

Initially, how long you meditate doesn’t matter nearly as much as that you are doing it every day.

Leo Babauta, meditation authority and founder of Zen Habits, suggests that beginners commit to just two minutes of meditation per day until they’ve formed a meditation habit.

Taking baby steps is a proven way to rewire your brain to form healthy new habits.

And once you’ve developed a habit, no matter how small, you no longer have to rely on dwindling supplies of willpower and motivation to keep doing it.

Tip 3: Blast Meditation Myths

One persistent myth that keeps people from meditating is that it smacks of new ageism; it’s too “far out.”

But, in fact, conservative medical institutions such as Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and Carnegie Mellon University endorse it for its many health benefits. (4, 5, 6, 7)

The US Marines and major corporations like Google, Aetna, Target, and General Mills encourage their employees to meditate for peak mental performance. (8, 9)

Some of the most successful people in the world, like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Richard Branson, attribute their success in part to their regular meditation practice.

Famous athletes are always looking for anything that will give them an edge.

Another limiting myth is that the goal of meditation is to completely clear your mind of thoughts.

When thoughts creep in, many beginners give up in frustration, believing they’ve failed.

The point of meditation is to learn to notice and monitor your thoughts, not to completely eliminate them.

That rarely happens even for very experienced meditators.

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Tip 4: Take Advantage of Free Meditation Help

Meditation is simple, but often not easy.

Learning to monitor your thoughts may be one of the best things you’ll ever do, but it may also be one of the hardest.

Fortunately, there’s an abundance of beginner’s meditation help available, and much of it is free.

Meditation classes

If you would like to take meditation classes or practice meditating with others, just google “meditation” and the name of your town or city.

You may be surprised at the variety of places offering meditation classes.

Besides meditation-specific organizations, classes are sometimes held at libraries, hospitals, YMCAs, community colleges, health spas, and churches of all denominations.

Also, Meetup.com is a great resource for finding meditation groups in your area, no matter where in the world you live.

Free online meditations and apps

There are many websites and apps that offer free meditations that you can either download or listen to online.

But if you’re looking specifically for guided meditations for beginners, here are my top two recommended sources:

Udemy

Udemy, the world’s largest marketplace for online courses, has dozens of beginner-level meditation courses.

Most courses are in the $15 range, but many are free.

InsightTimer

InsightTimer is the #1 free meditation app for both Android and iOS.

This app offers thousands of free meditations presented by some of the best meditation teachers anywhere, including Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Thich Nhat Hanh.

You can access meditations by category.

They have a meditation course specifically for beginners.

They also have playlists of the beginner’s meditation techniques we’ve mentioned above such as breathing meditations, binaural beats meditations, kundalini meditations, and mantra meditations.

InsightTimer offer so many meditations of all levels that it truly can be your “one stop shop” for meditations for life.

Tip 5: Be Clear About Why You Are Meditating

The last tip for staying with your newfound meditation practice is to be very clear about your “big why.”

You may be meditating because you think you “should” or because someone guilted you into it.

But if you really don’t know your underlying reason for meditating, motivation and willpower will eventually let you down.

Here are some food-for-thought questions to ask yourself, along with why meditation may be the answer:

Are you tired of being constantly stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by negative thinking?

If so, then meditation can quiet your mind, control negative thinking, and reduce stress. (10)

It will make you more resilient to whatever life brings your way. (11, 12, 13)

Do you have difficulty keeping up at school or on the job because you have trouble learning and can’t stay focused?

Meditation enhances your ability to learn and improves focus and concentration. (14, 15)

It actually builds a better brain by building new brain cells and neural connections, while increasing brain plasticity.

Are you dealing with a mental or physical health challenge?

Over 1,000 published studies support the many health benefits of meditation. (16)

Meditation can alleviate symptoms and help you better cope with both the physical and psychological aspects of illness.

Meditation has proven beneficial for people dealing with: (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26)

  • addictions
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • cancer
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • chronic pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • heart disease
  • HIV
  • insomnia
  • Alzheimer’s

Related on Be Brain Fit —
Benefits of Meditation for Depression: Why It Works So Well

Once you’ve discovered your big why, write it down and refer to it if you ever get discouraged and feel like quitting meditating.

As clinical psychologist and meditation expert Dr. Paula Watkins wisely says, “We don’t meditate to become better at meditation. We meditate to become better at life.”

Perhaps this is the best reason of all to meditate.

Meditation Techniques for Beginners: Take the Next Step

Deciding whether you should meditate is really a no-brainer.

It’s been proven to make you happier, healthier, and more productive.

There’s a variety of beginner meditation techniques to choose from; one is bound to be a good fit for you.

And while you should expect to spend at least 10 minutes per day meditating, you can start doing as little as 2 minutes until you make it a habit.

Remember, the goal is not to empty your mind of all thoughts, but to gently bring your mind back to the present when it wanders.

It’s not always easy, but it is that simple!

READ NEXT: Binaural Beats: A Meditation Shortcut

8 Steps to Establish a Daily Meditation Practice

There are few reasons to skip the powerful activity of meditation. After all, research has found that the practice can provide a wide array of health benefits from preventing age-related brain structure deterioration, increasing memory capacity, and regulating your mood to slowing the aging process, reducing chronic inflammation, and increasing immunity.

Yet, knowing that something is good for you doesn’t always translate into doing it. The chasm between knowledge and application can sometimes be too wide to jump. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help start and maintain a healthy meditation practice.

Link Meditation to a Habitual Activity

Activities such as showering, brushing teeth, or driving home from work are deeply ingrained habits that don’t require effort or forethought. They are known as instrumental tasks. By linking your meditation to one of these tasks, the effort needed to initiate the meditation session is significantly reduced.

Davidji, author of Secrets of Meditation, offers the acronyms RPM (rise, pee, and meditate) and RAW (right after work) as guidelines for linking meditations to habits. Not only are these acronyms catchy, they can reduce the resistance most people experience when trying to create a new habit. Linking your meditation session to an automatic activity, one that doesn’t require the use of will power, increases the probability that your new habit will take root.

Start Small

Meditate for short periods of time, in which you experience no resistance. For instance, you might start with just 10 minutes. It should be easily attainable and create absolutely no push back from your mind. Establishing the habit of meditation is much more important than increasing the length of time spend in meditation. Once your initial time commitment becomes habitual, you can then begin to lengthen your meditation practice.

Experiment With Guided Meditations

New meditators are often not sure what to do during a meditation. Guided meditations are an excellent way to settle into this practice. Guided meditations will lead you through breathing techniques, relaxation, and visualization, mantra, or mindfulness-based practices. This takes all the guesswork out of your meditation and can help you free your mind and surrender to the experience.

Attend a Group Meditation

Meditation is an individual activity. That doesn’t mean group meditations can’t be beneficial. Meditating with others can reinforce your personal commitment to the practice and provide access to a huge reservoir of knowledge. Groups can create a tangible energy that can inspire even the most reluctant meditator. Studies show that meditating in groups can increase peace in your community.

Use an App

Who says you have to turn off your smartphone during meditation? While you should refrain from checking emails and texts or taking calls, there are a variety of apps that can actually enhance your meditation. These apps allow you to choose the length of time for your meditation and select ambient sounds, ending tones, and interval bells. Some apps, such as Insight Timer, also allow you to connect with others who are meditating at the same time.

Practice Pranayama

Just as you warm up your muscles before a workout, pranayama helps to prepare your mind for meditation. Breathing mindfully and consciously relaxes the body, calms the mind, and even slows the aging process. It has been proven to fire up the autonomic nervous system, ushering both mind and body into a state of relaxation. This state of relaxation is helpful if you want to experience the benefits of meditation.

Schedule Your Meditation

If meditation is not on your schedule, it’s easier to put other activities and tasks ahead of this important practice. Sometimes just seeing the word “meditation” penciled onto your calendar can be enough of an incentive to show up for this daily dose of peace.

In an accomplishment-oriented culture, schedules can fill up to the point that there is little time left for the activities and pursuits that really matter. By scheduling meditation, you make sure that nothing will interfere with your commitment to yourself. If possible, schedule meditation at the same time each day. Your body and mind will eventually begin to relax as that time draws near.

Create a Meditation Space

Carve out a little corner of your room to use exclusively for meditation. In that corner, place your meditation seat of choice such as bolsters, blankets, or any props that you need to support yourself. Then fill your space with objects that inspire you such as photos, soft lighting, candles, incense, a diffuser, sacred books, or anything else that speaks to your soul. Use this space only for meditation. It will absorb the vibrations of calmness. Eventually, just entering your sacred space will initiate the relaxation response.

By practicing the above techniques, you will see your meditation practice move from, “I know I should,” to “I always do.” Once you achieve a consistent meditation practice, your level of health, peace, and happiness will expand.

Discover the simplest way to bring into crystal clear focus who you really are at our 7-day meditation and yoga workshop, Seduction of Spirit. Step away from the noise and busyness of your daily life as you deepen your meditation practice and enjoy the lush grounds of the world-renowned Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.

Meditation how to start

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