You can do it sitting, lying down, or standing. While you’re walking, cooking, cleaning, or simply being still. At home or in your workplace. Alone or with others. Inside or out.
In other words, meditation may be the most adaptable wellness practice you could possibly work into your routine. And there are a zillion good reasons to do so, including stress reduction, better focus, and a sense of calm that lasts far past your meditation time.
To get all these benefits? You need just a few minutes a day. Ten is a perfect goal—a challenge for beginners but long enough to start seeing benefits, and a short enough span of time that making room for it in your schedule is simple.
Despite its rising popularity, meditation remains mysterious to (and misunderstood by) many. But the practice is beautifully simple: pay attention. At their base, that’s what all styles of meditations are about. How you choose to get there may include a range of practices, and that’s a nice benefit: There’s a meditation practice that can meet any need. However you choose to get there, the “there” is attention, which you might also call mindfulness—attending to how you feel mentally and physically and to what’s happening in and around you.
It’s important to note that mindfulness does not mean controlling your mind or emptying it. These things are frankly incompatible with being a human. It means stopping to take note of your humanness—noting when your brain gets off track or feelings overtake your concentration so that you can regain focus.
Many meditations ask you to concentrate on your breathing, sometimes counting breaths in continuous loops of 1 to 10. Inevitably, thoughts will shove their way in to your soothing 1, 2, 3. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means it’s time to gently move the thought away, “like a feather against crystal” says the guide on the popular Headspace meditation app.
Meditation your way
If it’s helpful to you to sit on a cushion in a specific place at the same time every day and use a guided meditation app, by all means do that. Making time to meditate is a superb way to care for yourself, break up your day, and focus your mind.
Just don’t think that if all the above isn’t your bag, you’re out of the meditation loop. If you focus intently on what you’re doing, how your body feels, and what is going on in your mind—even while you vacuum the floors or rake the yard—that’s meditating.
For a lot of people, movement helps focus the mind, and walking meditations are a great option. That may mean that you simply walk while focusing on your footsteps, or it may mean you do something more formal, like this easy meditation:
- Count your steps, starting over at one and going farther by one each time, until you get to ten: 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, and so on.
- When you get to ten, start over: 10, 10, 9, 10, 9, 8.
- Repeat as long as you have time for. Sometimes you’ll notice you lost count, and that’s fine. Start over or start again where you think you left off. The important thing is that you gently bring your focus back to counting.
Even eating can become a meditation if you simply focus on what you’re doing, how the food tastes, how it feels to chew and swallow. Focus on the smells, textures, flavors. And enjoy! Whichever way you do it, you’ll find that meditation a calming practice. As long as you keep at it.