The Benefits of MeditationIn spite of the hype created by the Beatles when they went to India to follow a guru, you don’t need to travel to a mountain top or fold yourself into a lotus position to reap the benefits of meditation. All you need are comfortable clothes, a quiet place to sit, and perhaps some soft music and candlelight, and those are optimal conditions. People meditate in settings as noisy as train stations and airport terminals, in ways that don’t draw attention to themselves.

The easiest mediation consists of sitting quietly with eyes closed and focusing on your breathing. Release any tension in your body by tightening, then relaxing, your muscles, starting with your toes and working your way up. You can sit with legs crossed or flat on the floor, palms upward or held comfortably in your lap. At first, your thoughts will jump from one topic to another. This is called “monkey mind.” When this happens, let the thoughts go, perhaps imagining them drifting away on a breeze or floating down a calm stream. Don’t feel like a failure if the monkeys are particularly active. Simply keep practicing.

CDs for mediation help the beginner. Guided meditations use a narrator’s voice to talk you through the process. Peaceful music reminiscent of forests and other natural places eases tension. Some suggestions: Steven Halpern’s In the Om Zone, Guided Meditation for Beginners, and Goodbye, Worries by Roberta Shapiro. Or you may simply sit in the silence. Every session benefits you by lowering blood pressure and setting aside worries. Start with five minutes and work up to what feels comfortable. You’ll feel better after a break from life’s busy-ness.

–Jan Weeks, All About Easy!