What if it took only five minutes a day to feel more calm, centered, and have more ease in the body? That is all it takes. Five minutes of meditation can be enormously helpful for your body and mind. Studies have found that it can counteract the effects of conditions such as hypertension, anxiety, diabetes, aging, and so much more.
Meditation is an effective and simple tool for reducing stress, calming the mind, gaining clarity, and increasing intuition and concentration. However, it only works when you actually do it. Here are some simple tips to help you start a meditation practice:
1. Create a consistent time and space.
Create a space to sit in the same location each time you meditate, if possible. This can be a corner of your room, a quiet room in your house or office where no one else is, or even a bench in a park. Try to find a space with minimal distractions and noise. The mind will start to associate that area with feeling calm and centered, which might make it easier to get into a peaceful state of mind.
Try to meditate at around the same time each day. The ideal times are before sunrise or sunset, also called the amrit vela ("ambrosial hours"), when all is calm. Really any time of day is better than not making the time at all. If you cannot be consistent with a location or time of day to meditate, then do your best with what you can create, and you'll still reap the benefits.
2. Create a comfortable seat.
If the body is comfortable, there is less distraction. Sit in an upright position that you feel good in. Asana is a Sanskrit word for a comfortable and steady meditation posture. If you are not comfortable sitting cross-legged (sukhasana) on a cushion or on the floor, you can sit in a chair. But try to keep the spine tall yet relaxed, as this will keep your mind alert and more readily able to concentrate. If you are sick or bedridden and can't sit upright, you can meditate lying down. However, for those who can do it, sitting upright is recommended so that the mind is less likely to drift off and fall asleep.
3. Supplement your meditation practice with yoga.
Doing yoga postures is useful to keep body aches and pains away, but they also create more flexibility and ease for sitting in meditation postures. Find a class at your local community center, ashram, or studio if you have never tried yoga postures. Even a 15-minutes-a-day practice of yoga exercises and gentle postures will make meditation postures and practices more restful.
4. Remember that your eating and drinking habits contribute to your mental state.
If you drink a lot of caffeine and eat foods that agitate the mind, this will hurt your meditation practice. Although you do not have to change your diet or habits to meditate, eating a vegetarian and wholesome diet that does not harm animals, according to the yogis, is the ideal diet for creating a peaceful mind, emotions, and body, which will then support the meditation practice. If changing a simple dietary habit creates peace of mind and greater health, why not consider taking small steps to create it?
5. Join a meditation group.
If you find it difficult to discipline yourself to create a home practice, join a meditation group. Deepak Chopra offers a 21-day, free guided meditation journey a few times a year, and there are other groups you can join online to be connected to a global community. If you meditate on your own each day, it might give you further encouragement and support to join a group, even if it's only occasionally.
Each day you listen to the mind giving reasons why you don't have the time, location, or condition to meditate is another day that goes by when you could be enjoying more inner peace. The outer conditions may never be perfect for you to create a practice, so just start where you are with a minute a day and be with your own breath.