Think about what you want to achieve with your meditation. People come to meditation for a wide range of reasons. At its core, meditation is just about relaxing and refusing to be caught up in everyday anxieties. Whether to improve their creativity, help visualize a goal, quiet their inner chatter, or make a spiritual connection. If your only goal is to spend a few minutes every day being present in your body without worrying about everything you have to do, that’s reason enough to meditate. Try not to over-complicate your reasons for meditating.
Find a distraction-free area to meditate in. Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s important to clear your environment of distracting sensations. If you share your home with others, you may find it difficult to find a quiet space where you can focus on meditation. Ask them if they would be willing to keep quiet for the duration of your meditation exercise. Promise to come tell them as soon as you’re finished, so they can resume their normal activities.
Setting up an Alter or having a scented candle, a bouquet of flowers, or incense can be great little touches to enhance your meditation experience. Also, calm music and dim or turn out the lights to help you concentrate.
Wear comfortable clothes. You don’t want anything to pull you out of your meditative thinking, so avoid restrictive clothing that might pull on you, like jeans or tight pants.
Choose a time when you’re comfortable. When you’re starting out, meditate when you already feel relaxed — perhaps first thing in the morning, or after you’ve had to unwind after school or work. When you’re more familiar with meditation, you might use it to calm you down when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. But if you’re a beginner, you may find it hard to concentrate at first if you’re not in the right frame of mind.
Don’t fret about what to do with your hands. In the media, we often see people holding their hands in many different positions when meditating, but if that’s uncomfortable for you, don’t worry about it. You can fold them in your lap, let them hang at your sides — whatever allows you to relax, clear your mind and concentrate solely on your breathing.
Set your timer. You want to ensure you practice your meditation for long enough, but you also don’t want to break your concentration by checking the time. Don’t feel any pressure to reach an hour-long transcendental state during your first week. Start small with 3–5-minute sessions, and work your way up to half an hour, or even longer if you’d like.
Keep your mouth closed as you breathe. You should inhale and exhale through your nose when meditating. Also, make sure your jaw muscles are relaxed, and your tongue is rested away from the roof of your closed mouth. This helps for optimal air flow and general relaxation of muscles in the head and neck area.
Focus on your breathing. This is what meditation’s all about. Instead of trying not to think about the things that might stress you out on a day-to-day basis, give yourself something positive to focus on: your breath. By focusing all of your concentrating on your inhalations and exhalations, you’ll find that all other thoughts from the outside world fall away on their own, without you having to worry about how to ignore them.
Observe your breath, but don’t analyze it. The goal is to be present within each breath, and not worry about describing it. Just experience each breath in the moment. Try not to think about the breathing with your mind – just experience it through your senses. How does it feel as it enters/exits your nose? The temperature of the air? Does your stomach expand or your shoulders lift? Or do they stay flat or rested? Can you hear the air in your windpipes? These are just a few examples of how you can experience a single breath in a single moment. Remember, we are observing the breath, what comes and goes is what it is and that is how we will let it be.
Bring your attention back to your breath if it wanders. Even when you’ve gained a lot of experience with meditation, you’ll find that your thoughts might wander. Whenever you notice your mind getting louder again, don’t worry and just allow these thoughts to come. Then, gently direct your focus back to the sensation of your breath in your body, and let any thoughts fall away again.
Try counting your breaths if you’re having trouble refocusing your attention.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Accept that focus will be hard for you when you’re just starting out. Don't beat yourself up––expect the inner chatter to continue and just allow it to come and go on its own. Without judgment or expectation. Believe in your own transformation and don’t expect your meditation practice to change your life overnight. Mindfulness takes time to employ and embrace. Keep coming back to meditation every day for at least a few minutes, lengthening your sessions when possible.