Meditate in whatever way is comfortable for you. Many people think they have to sit cross-legged on the floor for a long time, but that’s not true.
You can focus on your breathing or on different parts of your body. If thoughts and feelings arise, just notice them without judging yourself and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Focus on the Breath
Meditation is a practice in which you focus your attention to train awareness and achieve mental clarity, emotional stability and physical well-being. It can be done alone, with a group or in a class taught by a qualified instructor.
While there are many different ways to meditate, most involve focusing on the breath and letting distracting thoughts pass by. You can use a mantra, repeating a word or phrase, to help keep your mind from wandering. Counting breathing cycles is another technique to help you stay focused.
As you start to meditate, you may find it difficult to stay focused on the breath. That is okay. Just kindly return your attention to the sensation of your breath, and continue to do so as many times as necessary. You will notice that over time, your ability to stay focused increases. This is why it is important to practice daily.
Focus on Your Feelings
If you feel fearful or anxious during meditation, focus on the physical sensations associated with those emotions. Do not attempt to suppress them or follow the mind’s stories about them, but just notice them and let them pass by. This practice can help with emotional regulation and improve the ability to stay with pain.
You can also focus on feelings of love and kindness during meditation. This can increase the sense of connectedness you feel with others, and may help with resolving conflicts.
Choose a quality you would like to encourage more of in your life — such as abundance or health — and bring that into the meditation, feeling it throughout your body. If your thoughts wander to other things, gently bring them back to the quality you are focusing on. It is normal for your attention to wander during meditation, but you will become more and more at ease with this over time.
Practice in a Quiet Place
When most people think of meditation, they picture someone sitting in a quiet room where you can’t hear a pin drop. While there’s nothing wrong with a cozy spot and finding peace in a peaceful environment, it’s important to realize that it is possible to meditate almost anywhere that is safe and comfortable.
Start by focusing inwardly and noticing all the sounds around you. Once you can single out each sound, focus on the fact that it is a part of the overall noise and that it doesn’t distract you in any way.
Eventually, the goal is to have enough concentration and mindfulness that you can practice in any place that you are at. This will give you the ability to connect inwardly while waiting in a line, in between classes or when a friend calls to ask how your day went. Just be sure to stay mindful and bring your attention back to your breath whenever it wanders.
Try Different Techniques
There is no one-size-fits-all form of meditation, so it’s important to try different techniques until you find the type that is most helpful for you. Your physician or mental health provider can recommend resources and instructors.
Try guided meditation, in which an instructor guides your thoughts and emotions to help you focus. It is often done in a group setting but can be done alone, too.
Attempt mantra-based meditation, in which you repeat a specific word or sound over and over again. This type of meditation has been shown to affect certain areas of the brain associated with memory, emotion and stress.
Try body-centered meditation, which focuses on the sensations you feel throughout your body. This can be done by focusing on one area of the body at a time, like starting with your head and working down to your feet. Then, concentrate on the feeling of each part and how it moves as you move your attention to each new spot.