Meditation is a relatively simple self-care practice with a wide range of health benefits. If you’ve ever considered starting a meditation practice, now is a perfect time. You can meditate anywhere, no special equipment required. It’s free of charge (or relatively low cost, if you subscribe to a meditation app) and full of potential gains. And even just a few minutes of meditation can produce powerful results. So why not give meditation a try?
Here are several of the benefits of meditation, simple instructions for how to meditate, and an array of meditation apps that can streamline your practice.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is often associated with yoga—and in fact, many yoga classes include a few minutes of guided meditation at the close of class. The two practices share many benefits, as well. Numerous studies have shown that meditation can have a positive, holistic impact on health. The practice of meditation can:
- Reduce stress
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve emotional well-being and sense of inner peace
- Enhance self-awareness
- Improve attention span and concentration
- Increase feelings of positivity and compassion
- Improve quality of sleep
- Decrease blood pressure
- Help with pain management
- Reduce age-related memory loss
How to Meditate
Ready to give meditation a try? You don’t need to be a mindfulness master. Just set aside a few minutes in your day and get started. Here’s how:
- Pick a spot for your meditation practice that is free from distractions, like your garden or your bedroom. Once you become adept at meditating, you’ll probably be able to move into mindfulness just about anywhere. But in the beginning, set yourself up for success in a calm, silent place.
- Sit in a comfortable, stable position. You’ve probably seen practitioners sitting cross-legged, which is a great way to start. Or, if that’s not comfortable, try any other position that allows you to breathe easily.
- Pay attention to your breathing. Focus on a deep, slow breathing pattern. It may even help to count to yourself: in-two-three, out-two-three, in-two-three, out-two-three. This will help calm your mind and prepare you to meditate.
- Try using a guided meditation from one of the many meditation apps listed below. This will help direct your focus as you learn how to meditate.
- Your mind is bound to wander, especially when you first start meditating. This doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong; it simply means you’re human! When this happens, try to refocus on your breathing pattern: in-two-three, out-two-three.
- Consistency matters when it comes to meditation. Experienced practitioners typically recommend meditating daily, at the same time every day. Maybe bedtime meditation is exactly what you need as relief from daily stress. Or, perhaps you prefer to meditate first thing in the morning to start your day from a positive place.
- Meditate for as long—or as short—as you like. In the beginning, you may struggle to stay focused for more than a few minutes. Over time, your practice may extend to 30-60 minutes. You may also find that a five-minute meditation per day is plenty for you.
An app to calm your mind? You bet! Although our devices can often be implicated in increasing stress, technology can also help deliver simplicity and convenience—including calming, relaxing guided meditations that you can access anywhere. Here are a handful of apps to help you develop your daily mindfulness practice:
- Headspace is a popular app, notably offering a free year-long subscription to anyone unemployed due to the pandemic.
- Buddhify is specifically designed as a mobile meditation platform, so you can take your mindfulness wherever you go.
- According to Meditation Studio, “life is messy, we’re human and meditation helps. A lot.” The app helps by offering everything from simple meditations to in-depth courses.
- Aura aims to help improve your sleep and emotional state with daily meditations to relieve stress and anxiety.
- Calm states a clear mission: “Sleep more. Stress less. Live better.” What’s not to love about that?
Now that you know how to start meditating, there’s nothing left to do but pick a quiet spot, get comfortable, and focus on your breathing: in-two-three, out-two-three. You’ve got this!