by Sarah Buron

Meditation has countless health benefits. It is M commonly used for stress reduction and improves your relaxation response. Research shows that mediation can also help lower blood pressure and manage symptoms of anxiety and depression. The emotional benefits of meditation can include focusing on the present, increased creativity and self-awareness and reducing negative emotions. Using this technique will help you to feel inner peace whenever you are looking for it. With a bit of practice, you can relax almost anywhere, at any time.

Meditation is also a highly effective way to maintain a healthier lifestyle and relieve stress. Focusing your attention is one of the most important elements of meditation. Here are some additional tips:


Set yourself up for success

Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Make sure your bedroom is dark to support better sleep. Power off the electronic devices so your body and mind can better prepare for a meditative state. Your ideal environment is calm, quiet and free of distractions. Remove distractions, turn off the TV and choose a posture that feels best for you, either laying down or sitting up.


Schedule it

Some may prefer meditation in the mornings before they start their day, while others may get more benefit before they fall asleep. Regardless of when you make time for reflection, you will come out of it feeling more relaxed and refreshed. When you choose a certain time to meditate, it can be easier to create a habit, and you may be more likely to stick with it. Attach it to another daily task you already have in place, like with your cup of coffee in the morning.


Open your mind

It is very common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you have been practicing. Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgment. Unwanted distractions or thoughts are part of the process.


Breathe deeply

Breathe in for two counts through the nose and out for four counts through the mouth. We rarely take deep, intentional breaths, and this can be used as a powerful tool to ground us in the present moment. Inhale and exhale deeply. Focus on breathing. If a thought pops up, let it go and refocus on breathing again.


Count down

To slow down your mind and release it from thought patterns, count slowly. Start at ten and count backward to one. Repeat as necessary.


Inhale/exhale with intention

Inhale and tense your body. Pause, relax and then exhale. Repeat as necessary.


Scan your body

Close your eyes and bring awareness to the breath. Focus on each part of the body from head to toe. Do you feel tension anywhere? Do you find your mind wandering? What sensations do you notice? Acknowledge these things and let yourself be. Think of it as “switching off” any effort in each part of your body. The idea is to step back from worried thinking and give your mind something else to concentrate on.


Re-trace your day

Going back through your day can be a great way to distract your mind just enough to drift off. Start with getting up in the morning, showering, etc. Spend 15-20 seconds on each of the day’s events. This is a great way to power down before a breathing meditation.


Focus on gratitude

Your goal is to relax every part of your body. If you feel any tension, take a deep breath and allow gratitude to wash over you.


Acknowledge any emotions

Meditation can bring up emotions, good or bad. This allows us to recognize better what our feelings are. Be proud of the effort you put in to become more in tune with this, however big or small.


Give it time

Getting comfortable with meditation takes a lot of practice. Do not strive for a “perfect” session because there is no such thing. It will be easier to stick to when you give yourself grace. If you are starting, it might be helpful to choose a short amount of time, like 5 or 10 minutes.

There are great apps like Headspace or Calm, which offer wonderful guided meditations and full-body scans. Remember, you can ultimately practice meditation anywhere, whether waiting at the doctor’s office or out for a walk. Centering yourself and your breath will help your physical and emotional state wherever you may be in your day.