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    Meditation 101: Mindfulness for Beginners



    Mindful meditation can have calming effects on the brain and body.


    The idea of meditation might make you think of yoga class or group chanting, but the practice has undergone a modern makeover in the past few years. Once reserved for only the most enlightened, a mindful mindset has been adopted by everyone from Wall Street CEOs to suburban housewives. Keeping your brain focused and present can bring you a bevy of benefits, especially if you manage anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain. With some practice, mindfulness for beginners through meditation can be a lot easier than you think.


    The Mindfulness Misconception


    It's unclear exactly how mindfulness affects the brain, but studies show that taking the time to calm your mind and focus your energy every day can offer a number of benefits. Still, many people dismiss the practice without ever giving it a try. That's often because the idea of meditation gets confused with simply sitting in a quiet room with an empty mind for a while every day—and who has the time (or patience) for that?

    Mindfulness through meditation is much more than just sitting quietly. It's actually about focusing your brain on a particular intention to help you work through problems and feel calmer and more in control. In fact, if you try to empty your mind completely, you might find yourself becoming anxious when thoughts disrupt your practice—the exact opposite of how meditation is meant to work! By following these meditation tips for beginners, you can add a few minutes of mindfulness to your daily routine and see helpful benefits in just a short time.


    Meditation Basics


    If you want to become more mindful, remember the mantra "practice makes perfect." Your meditation might only last a couple of minutes at first, but as you become more comfortable and focused, you'll be able to stretch your meditation time and could see improvements in areas such as memory, pain reduction, depression, and anxiety. Here's how to get started.


    Get Comfortable


    Create a space that helps you focus and ignore distractions. A quiet room without electronics is best, especially if it includes a relaxing space for you to sit. A comfortable chair, pillows on the floor, or even a bed works well for meditation. Experiment with what works best for you, remembering that there's no "wrong" way to feel comfortable while meditating.


    Choose a Time


    It's best to meditate at the same time every day. As you make it part of your daily routine, it will quickly change from a task to a habit, especially if you choose a time that's convenient for you. You shouldn't be rushed, and it can be helpful if another regular activity, like eating breakfast or coming home from a daily walk, triggers your mindfulness practice.


    Create Your Intention


    Mindfulness isn't the absence of thought, but rather the concentration of your attention on specific things that matter to you. Before you begin your practice, define your intentions to help you focus your thoughts. Why are you meditating today? Perhaps its to find a more positive and grateful outlook on life. Maybe you'd like to focus on creating and keeping memories, or even feeling calm and in control of your day. As you create your intention, you can then focus your thoughts on that idea to increase the effectiveness of your meditation. Instead of emptying your brain of thought, direct your focus to your intention.


    Start Small


    It's unlikely you'll be able to meditate for thirty minutes at a time from day one. In fact, you might feel like three minutes of your first session feels more like three hours. Don't worry—you'll improve over time. Start small by setting a timer for three to five minutes. Add another few minutes each week as you become better at focusing your attention and quieting your mind for longer periods of time.

    Mindfulness for beginners is just like any other new habit or addition to your routine: It takes time and practice to see the benefits. If you're willing to stick with it and hone your mindfulness skills, you might see major benefits in mental health. Better memory, reduced depression, and less anxiety could all come from increasing your peace of mind with a few quiet moments each day.


    By Jae Curtis




    Journal of the American Medical Association, Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

    WebMD, Meditation, Stress, and Your Health

    Reuters, Meditation may help with anxiety, depression and pain

    These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.