Meditation: 5 Tips to Get Started

Wouldn't it be nice to sit still and focus on your inner self? Establish a bare-bones practice with these tips.

By Jeannie Nuss
sitting cross-legged

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1. Find a Quiet Place

Meditation is all about focusing on the mind and body, but if you’re worrying about street noise or the dings and chirps from your phone, it can be difficult.

“You want to have a quiet moment so you can focus on the inner body,” says Dr. Wen Chen of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Silence all devices and seek a quiet space where you’re likely to have as few distractions as possible. That might mean letting your family know that you are closing the bedroom door and there should be no interruptions for a few minutes. (Frankly, the bathroom and laundry room might be decent go-to meditation options).

2. Get Comfortable — Really

Find a position that works for you — whether it’s sitting cross-legged, lying down, even pacing — any position you feel comfortable in.

“Meditation is not really about how you sit,” Chen says. “It’s just so you feel comfortable, so you don’t feel distracted by the discomfort.”

“Let the distractions come and go naturally. You don’t need to be judgmental.”

Dr. Wen Chen of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

3. Focus

Even in a quiet place and in a comfortable position, being mindful and focusing attention can seem daunting. But there are plenty of ways to sharpen your focus:

“Sometimes people focus on chosen words or phrases,” Chen says. “Many forms of meditation ask people to focus on the sensation of breath.” 

Another option is to concentrate on your body, slowly scanning and becoming aware of each individual part from head to toe. 

Try out a few different ways and see what works for you.

4. Give Yourself a Break

When meditating, you’re going to get distracted — and that’s OK. 

“It’s very hard to focus on one singular thing for a long period of time,” Chen says. 

People can get stressed out and discouraged when they get distracted, but it’s important to accept that the mind will wander. 

“Let the distractions come and go naturally,” Chen says. “You don’t need to be harsh on yourself.”

5. Keep at It

To make the most of meditation, carve out time every week and make it a habit. Then, as the benefits manifest, you can add more and more time per week.

“It’s one thing to do meditation once in your lifetime,” Chen says. “It’s another thing to do it every single day.”

You might be surprised to find that it gets easier and you come away increasingly refreshed from your 10 or 15 minutes of focusing.

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