If anyone has ever told you to take a deep breath when you’ve been riled up about something, you’ve experienced the calming power of meditation.
If you want to take it a little further, check out the slideshow below to learn how to go all zen and end up feeling less stressed.
Special thanks to Leo Babauta from Zen Habits for his copyright-free advice on starting a mediation practice.
Start simply if you want the habit to stick. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you're committing to is 2 minutes each day.
Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, or during lunch. The trigger should be something you already do regularly, like brush your teeth, ride the bus or arrive home from school.
Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn't matter where -- as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes.
Don't fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. People who can sit cross-legged comfortably might do that. Others can sit on a chair or couch if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable. Zen practitioners often use a zafu, a round cushion filled with kapok or buckwheat. Don't go out and buy one if you don't already have one. Any cushion or pillow will do, and some people can sit on a bare floor comfortably.
This is really important. Most people will think they can meditate for 15-30 minutes, and they can. But this is not a test of how strong you are at staying in meditation -- we are trying to form a longer-lasting habit. And to do that, we want to start with just a two minutes.
You'll find it much easier to start this way, and forming a habit with a small start like this is a method much more likely to succeed. You can expand to 5-7 minutes if you can do it for 7 straight days, then 10 minutes if you can do it for 14 straight days, then 15 minutes if you can stick to it for 21 straight days, and 20 if you can do a full month.
As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that's fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count...one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out...when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. You won't be very good at it at first, most likely, but you'll get better with practice.
And that's it. It's a very simple practice, but you want to do it for 2 minutes, every day, after the same trigger each day. Do this for a month and you'll have a daily meditation habit.