Meditation, as a form of relaxation, stress relief, and self-reflection, has been shown to have an incredible number of health and wellness benefits. People from a wide variety of cultures have practiced various styles of meditation over the course of several millennia.

Though it’s an art form that nearly anyone can master, beginning a meditation routine can sometimes seem an intimidating challenge. Fear not!  We’ll walk you through some basic tips to get you started on your meditation journey.

Clean space.  Clean mind.

The best meditation session is one completely free from distraction. A clean, tidy space and powered down electronics can help you achieve an ideal, peaceful environment. Turn off the TV and your cell phone at least 10 minutes prior to beginning in order to clear your mind from the distractions of the outside world. Examine the space you plan to use.  Is there laundry out? A stack of mail sitting unopened?  Your work computer nearby? Taking care of some basic tasks and neutralizing sources of stress will help you maintain focus and better enjoy your time.

Choose your method.

Did you know that there are a multitude of schools of meditation, some with vastly different styles?  Some meditators don’t let their minds to wander, focusing on voiding their minds and allowing their worries to melt away, using a single word such as “one” or “peace” to center themselves. Others actively encourage thoughts to come to them, letting them pass through the mind as if through a sieve.  They observe these thoughts as they come, without dwelling on anything in particular.

Another form of meditation entirely is guided meditation, where another person leads you through an imagined experience, such as walking through a park or visiting your childhood home. Your guide will encourage you to engage your senses, picturing the sounds, smells and textures occupying the scene.  Take time to research styles that interest you and spend time exploring until you find one that works for you.

Correct posture.

A crucial part of meditation is physical positioning. While discomfort is a quick way to get distracted and fall out of focus, don’t get too comfortable or your meditation session might end up as an unexpected nap!

A straight back, lifted chin, dropped shoulders and arms resting in the lap tends to work for most people. In the modern age, emphasis on correct posture has fallen to the wayside, so sitting up straight may feel strange at first.  Don’t give up!  With enough practice, it will seem as natural as it is supposed to, and you may just find yourself sitting up straighter in your daily life!

Breathe.

Though every meditation style has its unique differences, a common theme through all of them is an emphasis on breathing: long and slow, in through your nose, and out through your mouth, with a slight pause between each breath. The power of breathing to calm and relax is practically miraculous. Try it at your desk at work or during rush hour traffic for instant relief!

During meditation, let your breathing guide and center you.  If you find yourself getting distracted, turn your focus back to your breathing and you’ll find yourself relaxed in no time.