How to get the most out of meditation

Most perceive meditation as a complicated art form—but it can actually be quite simple.

There isn’t one right way to go about it—the goal is to quiet your mind in order to be present in the moment and within yourself. You can achieve this in a number of ways.

“[Meditation] can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra,” according to Psychology Today.

For beginners, it’s best to start with a focus on breathing as the rhythmic pattern is easy to feel and follow. Find a comfortable, quiet space and sit in a relaxed position. Let your mind wander for a few moments before you begin.

Focus on the inhale and exhale of your body and pay attention to where you feel your breath the most—whether that be in your stomach, nose or mouth.

When you feel your mind begin to wander—as it inevitably will—bring your focus back to the breath. It is completely normal for this to happen, so don’t get frustrated when it does. The more you practice, the less it will occur.

There is also a multitude of helpful apps that can assist you in meditating if you need some guidance. Apps like Headspace, The Mindfulness App and Calm will walk you through the basic steps and even remind you when it’s time to wind down.

Why meditate?

We now understand that meditation is all about focusing and letting go. But what do we achieve by doing this?

Meditation is a great stress-reliever and is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety. Getting in touch with the body’s natural eases the mind and clears out negative thoughts.

It’s also a good way to check in with your body and its needs. When you shift away from your mind’s constant demands, you have a chance to get in touch with your physical side. Many people often realize how tense they are in certain areas or recognize a sore spot they hadn’t noticed before.

Meditating will also help you sleep more soundly. An active mind is often the reason people are unrestful—and since meditation helps quiet the mind, you will be able to slip into a more peaceful sleep and even fall asleep more quickly.

Finally, this practice will simply make you happier! Mediation has actually been found to shrink the “amygdala,” the portion of your brain that controls anxiety and fear. And the smaller that is, the happier you are!

Whether you’re eager to start meditating now or you’re someone who is skeptical of this practice, why not give it a try? There is nothing to lose and so much to gain.