Chances are you’ve already heard about the many benefits of meditation. Just 10 to 20 minutes a day can improve your health, decrease stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure, shrink your waistline (by lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol), improve your focus and attention, slow or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and increase your sense of joy and wellbeing. The wonderful thing about it is that anyone can meditate. It takes no special skills or abilities.
Read on for some tips for starting a new or enhancing your existing practice:
- Start small. Don’t have the time to devote to a 30 or 60 minute practice? No worries. Even short bursts of mindfulness can accrue major benefits. Try starting by sitting in meditation for just 5 to 10 minutes a day (consistency is more important than the length of your practice). Pretty soon you may find yourself naturally sitting for longer periods of time.
- Experiment with different techniques. While some purists will tell you that only their method is “real” or “best,” there are actually many different forms of meditation and they are all valuable. The trick is to start with a style that resonates with you. Have trouble clearing your mind? Then start with a guided visualization. Love to be out in nature? Try a meditative hike. Like to sing? Try chanting. The possibilities are endless and all roads benefit you.
- Join a group. When it comes to meditation, more is often merrier. The energy created by a group of meditators can be very uplifting, and you may find you can sit longer and meditate more deeply in a group setting than you can on your own. Plus, signing up to meditate with a group is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
- Release expectations. There is really no right or wrong way to meditate. Some days will likely feel easier and more comfortable than others. The only thing you have to do is make time. That’s why they call it a practice.
- Stick with it. Finding time to meditate may be difficult at first but the pay-offs are worth your persistence. The more consistent your practice, the more likely meditation is to become a regular part of your life. Pretty soon you won’t know how to ever managed without it!