A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

There are some days you have to be supermom. You run on autopilot. You may be physically present, but mentally elsewhere. It's rare that you have time to yourself, and the mental to-do list you carry around weighs down your mind and your spirit. If you took 30, or 15, or even 5 minutes to clear your mind every day, imagine how much better you'd feel!

Stressed Woman

Before you completely discount the idea of "meditation" as a weird, new-age practice that real people like you can't possibly have time for, try taking a look at meditation in a different light. The simple goal of meditation is to bring more focus and clarity to your mind, but we often overcomplicate it. In meditation, you are aware of the thoughts that come to mind, but just let them pass and float away. By cutting through all the static in your brain, you reduce stress, become connected with your body, be present in the moment, and more thankful and peaceful, not to mention all the scientifically proven benefits meditation offers, like reduced blood pressure or help with anxiety and depression. Meditation has stood the test of time as an all-around beneficial practice for your mind, spirit, and body.

While meditation itself isn't easy to master, the rewards you reap from continued practice are well worth it. Simply taking a few minutes out of your day to be quiet may be all you need to feel free and clear of unnecessary thoughts and worries. If it still seems daunting to try adding some meditative quiet time in your day, the tips below will help you get started as a beginner.

Woman practicing meditation in bed in the morning

Start a regular practice: It's okay to have a flexible schedule for your meditation time, but its important to make it a regular, daily practice. How easy is it to waste 15 minutes during your day? Instead, invest this time in yourself as quiet, peaceful time to meditate. Time of day is less important. Many people find that starting or ending the day with meditation is a great way to prepare the mind for the day ahead or to clear the mind after a full day. Find the time of day that is right for you and stick with it! Also, find a place to practice that will remain quiet and uninterrupted, and preferably one where you don't work, sleep or eat.

Stretch first: Stretching loosens your muscles and relieves tension, which will allow you to sit or lie down in your chosen quiet space more comfortably. It will help you feel connected to your body before you begin. Stretching may also keep you from fidgeting and feeling antsy while sitting still during your minutes of practice.

>>Read more: 6 Benefits of Stretching

Breathe: Focusing on deep breaths will slow your heart rate and relax your body. Moving all of your attention to breathing is often a good starting point to remove other thoughts from your mind. Remember that your breath is your anchor and foundation to meditation practice and will guide you back when other thoughts enter your mind.

Do it your way: Whatever recommendations you may hear or read, it's important to experiment to find the meditation method that works for you. Try sitting or lying down. Use a candle. Put on soft music. Keep eyes open or closed. There are many styles of meditation, such as mindfulness meditation or walking meditation. It may help to blend different types of practice to discover what works for you.

Let thoughts go: It's easy to get frustrated when your mind goes off track and thoughts flood your brain. Don't despair or get agitated with yourself. Acknowledge the thoughts that enter your brain, but slowly let each go by refocusing on your breath. Don't give in to the all-or-nothing thinking that your practice is unsuccessful if you get distracted! Keep practicing.

Be grateful: Be thankful at the end of your practice that you made time to clear your mind and focus on being quiet for a few minutes. Practicing gratitude and awareness during the day outside of meditative practice is a great way to improve and build upon your experience as well as being present in the moment.

The most important part about meditation is not to stress. Everyone's practice is different and there is no right or wrong way. Enjoy those few minutes that you set aside for yourself and you will feel better in your mind, body and spirit!