Meditation 101: Just breathe

What do ancient monks, samurai warriors, tech CEOS, and pop stars all have in common?

Meditation

Just stroll through your local library and you’ll find countless books on the topic. Eavesdrop in the coffee shop near your house, and you’ll undoubtedly hear someone discussing the quiet moment at the beginning of their yoga class or the latest mindfulness app.

The ancient art of meditation has gone thoroughly mainstream—and for good reason. Meditating, even for a few minutes, has profound positive effects on physical and mental health. It alleviates stress, increases positivity, lowers blood pressure, and can help ameliorate pain, among other benefits. And, as you progress, meditation becomes a powerful self-discovery tool, helping practitioners gain a deeper understanding of their thought patterns and motivations.

But what do you do if you’re just starting out? There are so many ways to practice and so many great teachers who can lead the way. But if you’re new to the space, wading through all the information available online or in books can be overwhelming. Don’t be discouraged. We’ve compiled four tips on how you can get started below.

  • Just breathe: Meditation doesn’t require a class or fancy equipment. You can start with a simple breathing exercise. Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, and breathe. Concentrate on the feel of the air entering your nose, filling your lungs, then exiting through your mouth. For however long you have—ideally five minutes to start—just sit and think about your breathing.
  • No judgement, no expectations: If your thoughts wander from your breath, just gently bring your concentration back to the air moving in and out of your lungs. Quieting the mind is a challenge for even the most experienced practitioner, so just be kind to yourself as you begin. No judgement. No expectations. Just kindness.
  • Make it a habit: Try to set aside 3-5 minutes each day to meditate, ideally at the same time. We recommend weaving meditation into your morning routine so you can start the day feeling grounded and centered. With our hectic schedules, this may not be possible, so remember to be kind to yourself if you miss a day or can only meditate for half the time you set aside.  
  • Journal: After each meditation session, take note of how your practice felt on your phone or on a notepad. Do you have a sense of calm? Was there a thought nagging at you? Try to be neutral when you jot down notes. The point is not to be critical but to notice what works for you personally. And you can look back at your journal with a sense of pride at the time and commitment you’ve given to building a healthy habit.

In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the history of meditation, its benefits, and different practices. In the meantime, let us know what you think of our tips in the comments below. And if you’ve already started a meditation practice, we’d love to hear about your personal routine and experiences.

Thanks for taking a pause with us.

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