Meditation Made Easy
Four ways to start meditating today!
Practical tips that make meditation a calming (and not scary!) experience for beginners.
Search “motivational quotes” on Pinterest, and you’ll find a smorgasbord of cute sayings against colorful backdrops¾“inhale confidence, exhale doubt” and the simple “You got this!” are two of my personal favorites. Instead of just reading the pretty graphics, spend some time thinking about them in meditation!
Meditation is “the act of engaging in mental exercise to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness or mindfulness,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And this practice is on the rise. A CDC study published last year found that meditation among U.S. adults increased from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017.
No, you don’t have to be a monk or devote hours of time in silence to meditate. Just spending a few minutes a day thinking about positive words, praying or breathing deeply is all it takes to relive stress and help you feel more calm. Not sure where to begin? Read our easy tips to get you started.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel peace¾seriously. Stressful situations pop up constantly, without warning. Control your emotions and your reaction to challenging events by breathing deeply, no matter if you are at the office or in line at the grocery store. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think about your lungs expanding and imagine oxygen rushing to your brain. Breathing is natural; however, doing it intentionally and deeply has many health benefits, according to Harvard Medical School. It can help clear distractions, lower feelings of anxiety, slow your heartbeat and lower your blood pressure. Best of all, it can be done anywhere!
Say a Prayer or Mantra
Talking to God through prayer or repeating an empowering mantra is one of the most popular ways to meditate, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can either think or speak aloud prayers or positive things, such as “I am strong,” or “I can do this.” You could also memorize and reflect on Bible verses, inspirational words from your favorite author or lyrics to your favorite song. The important thing: channel your energy on Jesus and good vibes, and leave negative talk and stress behind.
Many people find exercise helps them achieve mindfulness. If running clears your head, go for it! For everyone else, stretching or walking are the best way to unwind. Yoga is the most popular exercise because it has been associated with meditation for centuries. Beginners should invest in a yoga mat to protect joints when stretching. The Gaiam Yoga for Beginners Kit ($18.89 at Target) comes with a pretty purple yoga mat and matching foam block, a yoga strap and a 60-minute yoga workout DVD to show you how to do basic moves at home.
From a phone constantly pinging to kids whining, traffic blaring and coworkers chatting, quiet is a rarity in this world. Schedule in time for peace and quiet to make meditation easier. Go to a quiet corner of the library and sit for a while. Forget about distractions by coloring in the Mandala Meditation Coloring Book ($6.99 from Barnes and Noble) with its intricate patterns that will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Or, go with a more guided approach by reading Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book ($17) by Dan Harris. This ABC News anchor shares his personal experience about how meditation helped him be more focused and manage his emotions at work. It’s a funny, easy-to-read guide that provides practical instructors and debunks common misconceptions (you don’t have to collect crystals to meditate). Another option is to just go home and sink in a warm bubble bath, focusing on relaxing one body part at a time, from your toes to your neck.
Just remember: stressing about doing meditation the “right” way defeats the whole purpose. Just try to spend some time every day relaxing, thinking happy thoughts and breathing¾you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel!