Life is busy.  Some days you barely manage to do all of the things that HAVE to be done, much less add in anything extra, right?  So how are you supposed to find time for a habit like meditation?  Today we’ll break meditation down into simple steps so that you can get started without adding stress.

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Busy Lives, Big Problems

Maybe you work full-time.  Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe you’re an executive.  Maybe you’re just starting out in your career.  It doesn’t matter – whatever your personal circumstances may be, you almost certainly have too much on your plate on any given day.

You’re juggling appointments, deadlines, and family commitments.  If you have kids, there are soccer games and dance practice and homework on top of your own schedule. If you’re in a relationship, you’re getting to know each other or trying to keep the romance alive.  

You have to eat, so you’re either grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking, or you’re trying to find time to grab food on the go.  Things break down and need to be fixed.  You get sick.  Your loved ones get sick.  Bills have to be paid.  Your “To Do” list is already a mile long, but you still have to file your taxes, remember to buy birthday presents, and get your teeth cleaned.  

The world is telling you that you should be able to simultaneously work, parent, exercise, and make Pinterest-worthy projects.  And on top of all of this, you’re supposed to be finding “me time,” too?  Where on earth does self-care fit in?

Why You Need to Meditate

For busy women like you, one of the best ways you can practice self-care and create balance in your life is by meditating.  The beautiful thing about meditation is that you can get started in just minutes a day and get the ball rolling on a habit that will pay off, both in terms of your health and your ability to manage your day-to-day life.  

Not only does research suggest that meditation can provide health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and boosting your immune system, but we also know that meditation is a powerful tool for stress management.  

Who wouldn’t want to develop a habit that is easy to start and that helps you to feel calmer, quiet your mind, and think more clearly? You may experience many other benefits of meditation as well.

4 Simple Steps to Meditation

Meditation doesn’t have to be a complicated process.  Yes, there are many different types of meditation, and yes, you can take classes and buy meditation-related products, but at its core, meditation is very simple.  

If you want to, you can dedicate lots of time to the practice of meditation, but let’s be real:  Right now, what you need is an easy way to get started so that you can start thinking more clearly and managing your daily stress.  All you really need to do are the following easy steps:

1) Find a comfortable spot and a comfortable position

What you’re looking for more than anything else is a place that is quiet – and that might be a tall order if you share your living space with other people.  Do whatever you need to do to get a few moments to yourself – step outside, lock yourself in a room, or pop in some earplugs.  

It’s a huge bonus if you’re able to be in a place that feels calm and soothing, but anywhere that you can be without a disruption for a few minutes will do.  Once you’ve figured out the best spot to practice meditating, take a moment to settle into your space.  Sit on the floor, sit in a chair – just get comfortable, let your hands fall wherever it feels natural, and sit tall, with good posture.

2) Focus on your breathing

Breathe silently and deeply through your nose, and pay attention to how it feels as your breath enters and leaves your body.  Follow the flow of air from your nostrils, you’re your chest and abdomen, and back out again.  Count your exhales if it helps you to stay in the moment.

3) Acknowledge your thoughts, but don’t let them clutter your mind

The goal during meditation is to be mindful, or aware and present in your experience.  Part of being mindful involves observing your thoughts in a nonjudgmental way, but not letting yourself become engaged in thinking.  In other words, while engaging in mindfulness meditation, you’ll notice the thoughts that occur to you, and then set them side.  

If you have difficulty with this and find that the worries of the day are too intrusive, acknowledge those worries, then picture them inside a balloon – and send that balloon floating away so that you can return to being in the present moment.

4) Ease out of your meditation and back into the “real world”

When you’re ready to stop meditating, try to avoid ending your practice abruptly.  Before you transition away from meditation, take a final moment to be fully aware of yourself and how your body feels in this relaxed state.  

Let yourself slowly acknowledge your surroundings, then open your eyes.  Don’t rush into movement – stretch gently, leisurely unfold from your seated position, and move purposefully as you stand up and prepare to re-engage with the world around you.

That’s it!  That’s all you need to do to get started.  If you have about 5 minutes to spare, you can reap the benefits of meditation as soon as you decide to try it.  With practice and as you see firsthand how meditation helps you to manage your problems more calmly and effectively, you can work up to longer sessions – but you truly can experience the benefits by taking just a few moments to step away from everything else and just “be.”

Tips to Enhance Your Meditation Practice

If, after you’ve followed the four simple steps, you want to explore meditation further, try some of these pointers:

  • Set a timer so that you don’t spend your meditation practice feeling compelled to check and see how much time is left.
  • Experiment with meditation positions to find the one that feels best to you – compare sitting in a chair to kneeling or sitting on the floor with your legs crossed or partially crossed.
  • Still having trouble quieting your mind?  Try listening to a guided meditation or repeating a sound, such as “Om,” so that you have somewhere specific to direct your focus.
  • By meditating, you are practicing being mindful and present in the moment.  Find ways to carry this mindfulness into your daily life as well – such as by bringing all of your attention to the process of eating and enjoying your food or by listening fully and attentively when someone is speaking.

Start Meditating Today!

Creating a new habit can sometimes feel like a daunting task, but I promise you that meditation is one habit that is worth the effort.  Start small with these simple steps, and you’ll be empowering yourself to take control of the stress and daily hassles that wear you down.

allenweiAllen Wei is The Founder of LearnRelaxationTechniques, a blog that provides best guides to help relieve stress,reduce anxiety, and sleep better

For more tips and to learn more about meditation, check out Allen’s ultimate guide to meditation for beginners.  I’ve compiled in one place all of the resources – including free guided meditations – that you need, so that you don’t have to spend time searching for the information yourself!