Wondering how to meditate? It's actually not hard, and there are so many benefits that come to those to meditate regularly, that learning to meditate really pays off! Read some of the research on benefits of meditation to get yourself motivated, and you can learn to meditate right now!
Time Required: 10 to 20 Minutes
Find A Quiet Place, and Time
When you're just learning how to meditate, it really helps to have a quiet place, free of distractions, and some time blocked off so you can be free of interruptions. Also, when you're first learning how to meditate, even just a few minutes (5 or 10) can help you make it a habit--you can work up from there later if you like.
When you meditate, it's important to be relaxed, but not so much so that you fall asleep (unless you're meditating to help with sleep problems). Many people like to meditate in a relaxed sitting position. Experiment with different positions as you first learn how to meditate, and stick with one that allows you to be relaxed and alert.
Stay In The Present Moment
You know that little voice in your head--your inner dialogue? That running commentary that reminisces and ruminates on the past, plans and obsesses on the future, and analyzes everything? When you meditate, you turn off that little voice by focusing only on the present moment. There are several strategies you can use to meditate, and they all focus on being in the present moment.
If you're thinking, 'This sounds almost too easy...', you may be right. That little voice can be persistent, and focusing on 'nothing', or keeping your mind completely clear, takes practice. (You practice every time you meditate!) Some people find it helpful to focus on a mantra; others focus on breathing; meditation music can be useful for some as well. There are many meditation techniques, and sometimes finding a new focus can help.
Hang In There
Many people think they can't meditate because quieting that voice is more difficult than it sounds. If you find that little voice in your head becomes more active and distracting as you meditate, you're not doing it 'wrong'--in fact, this can mean you're doing something right! This happens even to those who meditate often and at length. If you're setting the time aside to meditate, and are remembering to refocus in the present each time, you're doing great.
- When you first learn to meditate, it's better to do 5 minutes a day than 35 minutes once a week--regularity matters more than length of sessions. As you make it a habit, you can increase your session lengths, but if you burn out in the beginning, you won't build the habit into your life.
- A good eventual goal is 10-20 minutes, once or twice per day. You can work up to it, but this is a nice 'sweet spot', where it doesn't take too much time out of your life, but you begin to see more lasting benefits, like reduced reactivity to stress.
- Those who are perfectionists, Type A people, and those who tend to move 'a mile a minute' may have more of a challenge at first as they learn how to meditate; these are also people who may see the most benefits, so if this is you, hang in there!