A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

“I would love to meditate—I just don’t have time for it.”

Have you found yourself saying this at all? Perhaps thinking it, even? I am definitely guilty of this, at least. In today’s world, where productivity seems to equal being “busy” (a term that is definitely up for debate), finding a quiet 5 minutes might seem insurmountable at times. There’s always papers to write and work to do… it’s not like we can afford to stop and do nothing for a while.

Or can we? Here are five tips to pick up this habit—arguably one of the most beneficial to have.

1. Have realistic expectations

Especially when starting out, it is definitely not necessary to spend a great amount of time meditating. Counting as little as up to 10 breaths will already heighten your awareness of the present moment.

2. Be kind to yourself

Our minds work at a million miles per hour, so it is definitely normal that we’ll lose focus every once in a while! If you’re meditating and you notice this happens, simply acknowledge it, and carry on counting your breaths. But do bring your awareness back to the present moment in a gentle manner; there should be no room for haste in your practice.

3. Use apps

Beginners may find guided meditation easier to anchor themselves to the present moment. With apps like Headspace, you can also even set reminders and push notifications to tell you when it’s time to meditate. If you’re not doing a guided meditation, you can also set a timer to allow yourself to focus on the moment at hand until the alarm rings.

4. Make it work around your schedule

If you really don’t feel like you have a few minutes to spare in your daily life, why not work meditation into something you’re already doing? You can, for instance, do a body scan as you drift off to sleep. This will allow you to check in with your entire body (even all the way to your little toe!) and relax you even more.

5. Meditate on the go

You don’t need to be sitting in the lotus position in order to meditate —you can focus on your breath on the bus, while driving, or walking around. You can also try other types of meditation, like mindfulness. For instance, while walking to class, you can focus on how it feels to be walking, on the ground beneath your feet, the air on your skin and through your nostrils, the sounds you hear…

The more you practice, the easier it will become not only to meditate, but also to find the time for it, especially as you start to reap the benefits. It has been proven that meditation offers relief from stress and anxiety, lower cholesterol levels, a more restful sleep, and an enhanced ability to focus, among other benefits.