Meditating can seem intimidating: a lofty practice that’s only achieved by the most austere and dedicated. But in reality, it’s pretty simple to start a basic meditation practice that can help you feel more focused and less stressed and give you a clearer head for a more productive day.
Here’s how to start:
1. Have an intention.
Whether you’re trying to establish a meditation practice to become less stressed, increase your ability to focus, or to simply become more mindful, begin your practice with an intention behind it.
2. Just focus on your breath.
There are a ton of types of meditation out there, but to start, all you really need to do is this: close your eyes, sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, and focus on your breathing. Thoughts may drift in, but that’s OK — just bring your attention back to your breath and enjoy the stillness. That’s it.
3. Start small.
Jumping into a 20-minute meditation is kind of like attempting to run a marathon if you never even jog, so start with just three to five minutes and see how that works. Gradually increase the length of time as your concentration muscles start to strengthen.
4. Set a time frame.
Maybe meditation will work for you; maybe it won’t (running, sewing, and climbing are just some examples of moving meditation). Try it for at least 30 days to give it a real shot.
5. Set a daily schedule.
As with establishing any habit, it’s helpful to pick a certain time of the day — maybe make it a part of your morning routine, or shut off all of your electronics and meditate before bed.
6. Create your own ritual.
I personally like to burn some sage, make a hot cup of tea before I meditate, and then play my Tibetan singing bowl after I meditate. It makes it seem less like a task than a routine that is special and unique to me.
7. Get a meditation buddy.
Like a workout buddy, except it could be as simple as exchanging morning texts about how the meditation went and wishes for a great day.
8. Incorporate meditation into small spaces throughout the day.
If you have a long commute on the subway, try a few minutes of meditation there. Or if you find yourself slumping at your desk during a long day, take a break to go walk outside and breathe. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it can make a big difference to incorporate your practice into everyday life.
9. Use an app, if necessary.
If you need more hand-holding, an app like Headspace is a great way to get started with guided meditation and to keep yourself accountable.
10. Enjoy it.
Meditate for you. Don’t be hard on yourself if it seems really difficult at first. Thank yourself for taking the time to let yourself just breathe and be present. It won’t change your life overnight, but it might just change your day.
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