How to: meditate

Got 20 minutes? Try this self-guided meditation and tap into some mindful relaxation.
Meditation can be intimidating to try, but the benefits have been studied copiously by scientists and are, frankly, incredible. With a regular meditation practise, we can reduce our stress and anxiety, get better sleep, and actually start to rewire the grey matter in our brain – in as little as eight weeks. There are many types of meditation, and many routes in. Try a few different things until you find what works for you.

To do a simple mindfulness-awareness (shamantha) meditation:

• Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
• Get into a comfortable, upright position (a cushion or chair are both great; just aim to have your knees below your hips).
• Place your hands gently on your legs (without gripping) and gently close your eyes.
• Take a moment to check in with how you feel, without judgement.
• Take a few slow, deep breaths.
• Pay attention to the physical sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body.
• When your mind wanders, notice that, then gently bring your attention back to the breath.
• Repeat the above step over and over again, until the time is up.
• Before you finish, take one last moment to check in with how you’re feeling.
• Take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes.
You meditated! If, even once, you noticed that your mind was wandering and then brought your attention back to the breath, you practised mindfulness. It’s not clearing the mind of all thought that makes it mindfulness, it’s noticing when the mind wanders.
If a self-guided meditation doesn’t feel right, you can try one of the dozens of meditation apps or thousands of recorded meditations online. (They vary in quality, so be sure to look at reviews.) Many big cities (and even smaller ones) now have drop-in meditation studios, sanghas (meditation communities), or meditation classes held at yoga studios.

5 rules for meditation beginners

1. When you first meditate, it can be incredible to discover how loud your mind is. This is normal.
2. You can’t meditate “wrong” or be bad at it. It’s a practice.
3. Sticking with it daily (10 to 20 minutes) can create incredible change.
4. Try different stuff until you find what works!
5. The most important thing – always! – is to be gentle with yourself.
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