Meditation is the practice of using mental focus and breathing techniques to induce calmness and serenity. People have practiced meditation for hundreds of years, sometimes as a part of religious expression. But, meditation is not confined to religious practice, in fact, most people use it simply as a way to cope with stress. Learning to meditate can enrich your life and help you live each day to the fullest.

Preparing Space for Meditation

It doesn’t matter where you meditate, so long as you feel relaxed and calm. A comfortable place free of distractions will help you focus. Some people achieve this by dimming the lights, lighting candles or burning incense. Others prefer a place where they can feel the warmth of the sun. There is no right or wrong place to meditate, just as long as you’re comfortable and able to focus.

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Typically people meditate in an upright position, sitting with a straight back to facilitate deep breathing. This could mean sitting on the floor or in a comfortable chair. If you plan to sit on the floor, consider getting a yoga mat for comfort. Resist the temptation to lie down, especially if you’re new to meditation because you’ll just get sleepy and sluggish.

Breathing Techniques for Meditation

Breathing is central to meditation, so it’s important to understand how to do it properly. First, you should be sitting upright with your spine straight. Get comfortable, close your eyes and take a deep breath until your lungs feel full. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds then slowly exhale. Make sure that you breathe through your nose and that you never clinch your jaw as you breathe.

When you breathe, you should feel your stomach expand forward and your ribs separate slightly. As you exhale, try and focus on the feeling of air leaving your body. Most people find this sensation relaxing, but beware of tension in your shoulder and neck. At first, it might be hard to breath in this manner, but with practice it will become quite comfortable.

Calming your Mind for Meditation

Many people have a difficult time calming down their mind from the bustle of the day. Our lives are so busy that most of us run all day long and collapse into bed at night. Throughout the day we think about our work, friends and family, doctor’s appointments, school and other obligations we might have. Letting all of that go can be a big challenge.

One method you can use to calm your mind is to simply focus on the process of breathing. This technique gives your mind something to center on, which is easier than trying to think about nothing at all. As you breathe, think about all of the sensations you feel. If your mind starts to wander, acknowledge the thought and refocus on your breathing.

Meditation isn’t as hard as many people think it is, but it does take practice to master. Find a quiet place where you can relax and start focusing on your breathing. Though it might be difficult at first, you’ll find that with time meditation will become second nature. So, get comfortable, start breathing and prepare for serenity!

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