Everyday om: An easy guide to meditation


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Vacation season is over, and your job, school or whatever “real life” might involve is back in full swing — stress and all. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait for Columbus Day to take a mini mental vacation.

Meditation is one everyday way to combat stress and chill out any time. Plus, it may do more than just relax you, since recent studies have found that folks who meditate for 30 minutes a day show increased brain density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. You don’t need a guru to get started: Just follow this simple guide to start feeling the benefits of a daily “om.”

Step 1:
Start by finding a quiet, comfortable spot where you can sit and relax. If it helps you get in a meditating mood, you can light a scented candle or play relaxing music, the Mayo Clinic recommends.

Step 2:
One easy way to start meditating is to focus on your breath. Place all of your attention on the act of inhaling and exhaling. When you feel your mind start to wander, gently lead it back. Start with only five minutes, the Meditation Society of Australia suggests. And don’t stress out if you have trouble focusing at first — that’s why it’s called a “practice!”

Step 3:
As your skills improve, you can start to incorporate a soothing chant, whether it’s the classic “om” or a prayer related to your personal spirituality. Eventually, you’ll be able to meditate even with the TV on or on a noisy bus, so you can reap the mental benefits anywhere.