Meditation made easy: 10 first steps to start your journey

No matter how much time you've spent in the yoga world, the fitness world, the healing world or simply your world, meditation is a practice for you.

You already know how to sit comfortably, breathe and process thoughts with your mind - so what's holding you back?

New York Times Best-Selling author and certified Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher Gabrielle Bernstein says if you've never practiced meditation before, resistance is likely . Among the most common excuses she hears are "I can't sit still," and, "Meditation is for yogis and super spiritual folks."

Talk of meditation's wonders are spreading fast as more and more folks find it to be a fine tool for happiness, peace, health and empowerment.

Meditation is your practice, your time that's just for you. It can last only a minute if that's what your busy life allows for. There are no rules, right ways or restrictions, but rather, a time of day when you rock out to your own silence.

Bernstein defines meditation as a practice that trains your mind. Meditation comes in many forms and serves many purposes. Chances are, your meditation will be a different experience than what you've traditionally seen online and pictured in magazines.

Transcendental meditation (TM), Bernstein believes, is the most popular form of practice. It's the one that's based on stillness and calming your mind.

As humans, we're all different from each other. Your insights, loves, loathes, path and goals are never the same as your neighbor's, so your meditation will follow a uniqueness that's your best fit.

Before we take our first steps into meditation bliss, let's get in with the lingo.

Mantra: An instrument (tra) of mind (man) - from Sanskrit, defined as a series of words, a single word or a letter that represents a praise, a special formula, incantation or affirmation that you repeat while meditating to stay focused. Your mantra helps block everyday thoughts from entering your silence, like your grocery list, phone calls to make, hunger, stress from your day at work or an upcoming event, just to name a few.

"Through my meditation I have learned how to boost my immune system, release my fears and heighten my intuition," Bernstein says. "My daily meditation practice has given me an internal power that supports all that I bring forth in the world."

Ready to grab some life-changing benefits by their horns? Let's get started.

1. Establish a want and willingness to meditate, and understand that the practice is simple.

Once you desire a new experience, you'll be on your way toward it. Try stating an affirmation out loud to create energy, enthusiasm and welcome meditation into your day.

2. Meditate in a space that's free of clutter, offers tranquility and allows you to feel comfortable. Bernstein says can meditate anywhere, as long as you're able to settle and find peace.

Your space can even be a park bench, your car (while parked) or your backyard.

3. Commit your time - even just a minute - to spend in total stillness.

It's as easy as this: For one minute, breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, release your breath for five seconds, hold for five seconds. Repeat three times, and your minute is already up.

4. It gets even easier, Bernstein says - just try finding your pulse. Start by closing your eyes, and focusing on the space between your eyebrows (third-eye point). Use your four right hand fingers to find your pulse on your left wrist. If you keep your fingers straight, you should feel your pulse in your fingertips and a calm in your mind.

5. For the next technique, we'll bring Kundalini into your meditation mix. Gently press your thumb and index finger together, then move to your middle finger, ring finger and pinkie.

Bernstein suggests: When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE... When you touch your middle finger, say: BEGINS... When you touch your ring finger, say: WITH... When you touch your pinkie finger, say: ME 
The pace of your movement doesn't matter, as long as you breathe with each word.

This technique helps carry you through emotions and release resentment, Bernstein says, and can be used when your patience is running short, you're in the middle of a stressful meeting or you have an argument with a friend.

6. While meditation often happens with closed eyes, your commute can be a calming time to center in, as long as your eyes are open and you can concentrate on your inhale and exhale. The idea is reciting a mantra that's in tune with your breathing pattern.

Bernstein suggests: Breathe in and say, "I love life." Breathe out and say, "I am supported."

7. Your kitchen may serve as an ideal meditation destination. When you're cooking, your creative juices flow while you prepare a meal. Your thoughts pour into your food formula and detach from

your laundry and cleaning, setting the perfect stage for meditation.

8. If you prefer meditation on the move, practice while you're out for a walk. When you walk, your pace is slowed and often relaxed so you're grounded. A lunch break is an ideal meditation moment for walkers, when a breath is taken with each step.

Bernstein suggests: Feel the soles of your feet and focus on being more grounded with each step. Use a mantra while you walk. With each step recite this mantra: “I am calm now.”

9. Technology is taking big steps to add convenience to lives, but it's often blamed for stress and making us feel busier. When technology mixes with meditating, it creates a cocktail of stress relief. Technology used to guide your practice is a big trend these days, helping people find affirmations, empowering words and meditation coaching.

Try these (they're free!):
Spirit Junkie
Headspace
Breathe Sync

10. When you finish your meditation practice, don't hurry to get back in the swing of things. Take your time by standing, and shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Enjoy a light snack or some green tea.

Traditional meditation practices are usually followed by three to five minutes of rest. The extra downtime helps your body reorganize its new energy, as jumping too quickly back into your tasks can cause a headache, anxiety or even shakiness.

"Seal the deal with a positive intention like, I choose to carry this peace with me for the rest of the day," Bernstein says.

Rest assured - you don't have to be a meditation master to feel the benefits. It's normal to feel awkward the first several times, and have trouble removing rumbling thoughts from your mind.

Just remember that meditation is not a competition, it's a practice. But with meditation, your practice is already perfect because it's simply yours - made by you, designed by you and lived by you.

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