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How To Meditate
What you need to meditate
To start meditating, the only thing you need is you.
Although it might be helpful to have someone guide you through a practice when you first start, or it might be useful to have a timer with you, these aren't absolutely necessary.
Meditation is a mental practice where you develop a relationship with your own inner and outer experience, so all you need is your mind.
Where to meditate
As a beginner, finding a calm and quiet place to sit or lie down is helpful to support your concentration and limit distractions.
That said, the point of the practice is to notice when your mind gets distracted. So embrace the sounds, sensations, and thoughts as a necessary part of the practice.
How long to meditate
Beginning with 1, 2, or 5 minutes of meditation each day (or a few times per week) is a great place to start. Over time, many people benefit from increasing their practice to 10-20 minutes each day, and longer.
The key is to start small and straddle the edge of your comfort zone. If you find it easy to meditate for 5 minutes, you might benefit from a longer practice. If you struggle sitting for 5 minutes, you might benefit from a shorter practice.
When you first sit down to meditate, you might notice how difficult it is to focus on just one thing. The mind loves to wander. But mindfulness is a skill, so it's important to recognize it takes consistent practice to see improvement.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, take a few slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Relaxing your mind and body at the start of your practice is a good habit to get into because relaxation generally helps concentration.
After a few deep breaths, close your eyes and let your breathing return back to its natural rhythm.
Now check in with your body and how it feels. Notice the weight of your body pressing down against your seat, and notice the floor underneath you. You might decide to notice any sounds or smells, too.
You might even scan your body from your head to feet, noting anything particularly comfortable or uncomfortable; noticing if you feel restless or still.
Move your attention to the sensation of your breath and follow its rhythm. To help your focus you can count the breaths, picture the movements of your breath, or notice the transition between inhales and exhales.
When you notice your mind wander, simply choose to bring your attention back to the sensation of your breath.
Remember, the purpose of meditation is not to stop the mind from thinking. It's to be aware of the impermanent nature of thoughts so you can learn to let go of any momentary mental storyline. Thoughts are a necessary piece of your practice.
To end your meditation, let go of any focus or thought you may find yourself in and give the mind a moment to do whatever it wants to do. Then bring your attention back to the weight of your body, how it feels, and the sounds and sensations in the environment around you.
As you move on with your day or night, practice bringing this present moment awareness with you.
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