japa, mala beads

Meditation is a practice that brings about a state of mind in which the present moment is fully experienced. It can sound esoteric and even elusive, but meditation is actually very practical. Meditation helps to calm the incessant stream of thoughts flowing through the mind. That does not mean meditation is a complete lack of thoughts, however. Rather, mediation helps to clear out thoughts that are not based in the present so that we can fully experience the moment we find ourselves in.

The benefits of meditation are many. Meditation helps to calm and relax the body and mind. It helps reduce stress and inflammation. And regular meditation can lead to improved cognitive function. Meditation helps us to more clearly see the world around us, which is helpful for determining how we should respond to people and situations. Through meditation, we develop keen insight, not only about ourselves, but about the world around us.

If you have been intimidated about meditation because you think that sitting still for long periods of time sounds too difficult, rest assured—meditation does not have to be hard. In fact, it is usually best to begin easy. All you need is a comfortable place to sit. You could sit on the floor, on a cushion, or even on a chair. Find a comfortable seated position by grounding your sit bones and lengthening your spine. Let your hands lay anywhere that feels comfortable. They could be on your knees, palms up or down, or in your lap, hands folded or loose.

Simply close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Notice how your breath feels and sounds. Notice how your body moves in response to your breath. Most importantly, notice when your mind wanders to other thoughts, and then guide your attention back to your breath. Even if your mind wanders over and over, as long as you bring your attention back to the breath each time it does, your practice will be a good one.

Begin with a short five-minute meditation. Set a timer and sit for five minutes. Try to do that every day for a week. Notice how the practice changes from day to day. Some days you will find it easy, and other days you will find it difficult. The following week, you could try seven or ten minutes. Each week, gradually increase your time until you are meditating for at least 20 minutes each day. This simple practice will have an amazing impact on your life when you do it regularly.