You’ve heard the statistics: meditation reduces anxiety, depression and pain, while it increases mental clarity, creativity, memory and productivity. Why then, do so many of us resist doing it? Or start a practice only to abandon it a week later? Fear not! I’ve got practical tips as one who once saw zero benefit from meditation, and now would not miss a day. Read on! Let’s get one thing straight to begin with. There is no one way to meditate correctly. There literally IS no “right” way. So take the pressure off yourself up front and know that if it feels good to you then that is the path for you. These practical tips are what I personally have found enjoyable. Maybe you will too. Experiment with different options and savor the process of discovery. I like to meditate lying down. When my body is very comfortable and can relax, my mind can also relax. Since my goal is relaxation, I never worry about drifting. Often I find myself in a semi conscious state somewhere between sleep and awareness. It’s very soothing and exactly what I need to reset my nervous system. I like guided meditation with music in the background. I find that I have less of a monkey mind when I am following a guide. I’m particular about the voice of the guide…it’s got to be soothing, usually low, and I find accents particularly helpful. Practical tip: try several different guides. Don’t worry if you stop a meditation quickly after starting because the voice or music isn’t to your liking. Find what settles you. Listening to your wants here is a form of self care and increases the likelihood that you will continue to meditate other days. I use a meditation App. There are several out there. Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace to name a few. If I like a tract, I can add it to my library. I can also put in the parameters that suit me including: time, background music, benefit, and spiritual content or not. Belly breathing. If there was one concept that I struggled with, it was belly breathing. In truth, as I look back now on 3+ years of meditation, I can tell you that it took me at least a year to learn to belly breathe. I guess my natural breath is quite shallow. But belly breathing really activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so the effort in learning to employ it, even briefly during the day, is well worth it. Practical tip: just keep trying; you’ll get there. Time- start small, grow from there. I began with mediations from 5-10 minutes in length. I usually go for 20 mins now. Sometimes I do a walking meditation while out for my morning exercise. Or a quick gratitude meditation in the evening. The possibilities are endless and all of them beneficial. Aim for a few times a week to start. Claiming a daily practice feels like too much stress and defeats the purpose of the relaxing nature behind meditation. Once you learn what you enjoy, doing it becomes a habit quite naturally. But no worries if you never ever get to a daily practice. Any time spent is its own reward. Like all the brain retraining that comes with mind/body work, the merits of meditation may not be seen for some time. Invest in a few months here. Patience with the process is paramount as your nervous system learns to self regulate in new ways. www.pathsbeyondpain.com Share your favorite meditation in the comments!