Like many people, you may be reluctant to try meditation. Perhaps it seems mysterious, intimidating or too unusual. Or maybe you’ve tried it and felt silly or it didn’t seem to work. But if you find yourself stressed out, filled with worry, or just not feeling your best, you might want to give it a try. The results may surprise you!
Making meditation part of your life
You can meditate almost anywhere — on the bus, at work, in a waiting room, in your living room — and for as long or as short a time as you wish. Meditation can involve sitting, walking or doing exercises such as yoga or tai chi.
Meditation can also hold a place in almost all religious beliefs and practices. In fact, prayer may be thought of as a type of meditation.
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. In fact, there are many different ways of practicing meditation, so try several to find one that suits you.
There is also no right or wrong meditation experience or outcome. Don’t be concerned if your mind buzzes with thoughts, or if you don’t feel any different when you’re finished. Just keep practicing.
You will get better at it over time, which means that you’ll see the greatest benefit if you do it regularly. For example, you might schedule ten minutes every night before bed. You could also use meditation techniques whenever you are dealing with a particularly stressful or painful situation.
Meditation made easier
The essence of meditation is to focus your attention, so that “mental clutter” — everyday thoughts of work, chores or worries — fall away. This can bring a sense of calmness, peacefulness and balance, as well as new insights and clarity. In time, you may find that these results linger with you long after the meditation session has ended.
While the specifics may vary, most meditation sessions follow these basic steps:
- For sitting meditation, find a comfortable position cross-legged on the floor (you may also sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor) and back straight but relaxed.
- Rest your hands in your lap, nesting palms up.
- Partially close your eyes and relax your gaze by staring into the middle distance.
- Choose a focal point to help direct your attention. This could be your breathing, a word that you repeat, physical sensations, a photograph of a beautiful setting or an image that you picture in your mind, such as light or water.
- Begin by simply being aware of yourself breathing, and gradually relax your body.
- Allow your mind to relax. Don’t try to empty your mind or push thoughts away. Just watch them come and go, and gently return your wandering attention to the focus of your meditation session.
If you’re not sure how to start or want to try a “meditation fix” for a particular circumstance, use our interactive “What’s bugging you?” tool and get on the road to relaxation.