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How to start meditation practice

Meditation is an exercise where an individual uses a technique such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable condition.

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.

 Meditation may significantly reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and enhance peace, perception, and well-being.

There are different types of meditation, but most have four components in common:

1) A quiet location with as few distractions as possible

2) A comfortable posture like sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions.

3) A focus of attention on a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath.

4) An open attitude letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them.

BASIC WAYS TO PRACTICE MEDITATION

First Step: Get Yourself in a Comfortable Position

Choose where and how you would sit. You could sit in a comfortable chair or If you would prefer, you could sit cross-legged on the ground. You want to be able to completely relax while still staying awake.

Make sure your back is straight because it is easier to stay awake through a long meditation when you have the right posture. When you begin your meditation practice with this in mind, your body will become used to the position as you move on to longer periods of time.

Should you feel your shoulders slump while meditating, simply straighten back up. A straight back will also prevent soreness during longer meditations.

If you choose to sit in a chair, sit toward the front of the seat and place your feet firmly on the floor. This will improve your posture and help you concentrate on your practice.

Second Step: Close Your Eyes Gently

When you are in a comfortable position, look into the distance with a soft gaze, then slowly lower your lids. Keep your jaw slack and slightly open as well. You want to relax all your facial muscles.

Do not squeeze your eyes tight. If you feel your face tighten, slowly open your eyes, refocus on that soft gaze, and lower them again.

At this stage, your goal is to relax every part of your body. If you feel some tension in certain parts of your body, take a deep breath and allow it to relax you.

Third Step: Put Thoughts Aside

While you cannot control your thoughts, you can control how much power they have over you. This does not mean you should ignore or suppress them, but simply remain calm, note them, and then use your breathing to bring you back to the moment. Learning to do this during your meditation practice can help you to let things go in the rest of your life as well.

If you get carried away in your thoughts, do not be hard on yourself. Take a moment, without judgement, to observe where your mind went off to and then return to your breathing.

Fourth Step: Keep Going

 Keep putting aside any thoughts that may pop into your mind. The quiet spaces between thoughts will become longer and more frequent the longer you practice.

Points to help your meditation practice.

Here are a few more points to keep in mind as you move along on the road to mediation.

Give it time.

Meditation takes a lot of practice. If you are expecting to do it “perfectly,” you may create more stress than relieve. There is no “perfect” meditation session, and if you go into it with an expectation of perfection, you may let yourself down and will not want to stick with it.

Start Small and Work Up

Begin with a short session of 5 minutes. After you are comfortable, move to 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for 30-minute sessions.

With practice, this type of meditation becomes easier and more effective. You will come out of a meditation session feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to face the rest of your day.

Track Your Time and Set Goals

It can be easy to lose track of time while meditating and two minutes can seem like eternity when you are just beginning. This can cause you to worry and have thoughts like “Is my time up?” or “Have I meditated long enough?”

Those thoughts defeat the purpose of clearing your mind. To combat this, you may want to set a timer. Use your phone to set the amount of time you want to meditate for during that session.

Be sure to use a gentle tone or set it to vibrate so it does not startle you when time is up, then turn off the screen and relax.

With practice, you may eventually find that time flies faster than you would think, and 10 minutes will feel so short.  When you are comfortable, skip the timer and allow your meditations to last longer if needed.

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