Ever feel like your brain just needs a breather? Meditation is a great way to calm the mind and manage stress, but you may have felt hesitant to try it. Perhaps you associate the practice with endless rounds of Om. Or maybe you can’t imagine taking the time to think about nothing when there’s so much on your to-do list.
At barre3, we’ve come to realize that meditation is really just about stepping away from the chatter in your brain for a few precious moments. Amazing things can happen in that quiet place—studies show that meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps you concentrate, and even amps up your immune system.
If you’ve been thinking about adding meditation to your daily routine, here are five simple tips to help you get started:
1. Make Time.
If you try to squeeze meditation in when you have free time, chances are it won’t happen. Instead, pick a time that you can devote consistently to meditation, even if it’s just five minutes when you first wake up.
2. Get Comfortable.
Meditating should happen in a place of rest, stillness and comfort. So get comfy! If you’re not used to sitting cross-legged for long periods of time, this probably isn’t the best posture for meditating. Instead, pick a spot where you can get comfortable (without falling asleep!). That might mean your favorite armchair, sitting under a tree, or even in the tub.
3. Focus on Your Breath.
One of the best ways to quiet your mind is to give it something simple to concentrate on—in this case, breathing. Try taking 100 breaths, counting slowly with each inhalation. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this exercise cuts through the static in your brain.
4. Find What Works.
There are so many ways to meditate—explore a few and find what works for you. Do sounds or scents move you? Are you a visual person? You might gaze at a candle for a few minutes to clear your mind. For others, inhaling some lavender oil for a few deep breaths can reduce stress and focus your thoughts. You could also listen to music or guided meditation on your iPod.
5. Start Small.
Our minds are notorious at wandering and jumping from thought to thought; sometimes it’s hard to string just a few seconds of focused attention together. Aim for just three breaths of focused concentration, and work up from there.
Just as we train our bodies to be healthy, meditation is a powerful way to train the mind. Remember to be patient with yourself as you get started; it’s called a meditation practice, and practice takes time.