Meditation has been around for centuries, and yet, it can still be a controversial topic.

Most of the people who recommend meditating start by saying something like “I know you think this is some sort of eastern ritual” or “you might think you have to be Buddhist to meditate”.

I admit, it does carry that connotation, or at least it used to.  I’ll spare you.  I’m going to assume you’re wanting to implement meditation as a self-improvement tactic, or as a way to clear your mind and increase your focus.

That being said, here’s a guide to meditation for the average person who wants more clarity and a clear mind…

The Benefits of Meditation

Here’s a simple starting place.  The benefits of meditation.  Then we’ll get into the how.

Meditation makes you more productive in several ways.  It also makes your life better in general, and this is how:

Are you ready to meditate yet?  Some research has shown that meditation has boosted students’ test scores, and even helped people to perform better on less sleep.  Sure, you need to get an adequate amount of sleep, but meditation will help you after those short nights.

And if you’re still not convinced, check out these 76 scientific benefits of meditation.

You’re still reading, so I’m betting you’re convinced.  Here’s how to actually do it…

How to Start Meditating

You may be a strong thinker, but you’d be surprised at how much of your life just happens passively.  Meditation will actually improve your level of thinking, but it will also help you to rest your mind.  There’s a fine medium in between over thinking and passively living.

Get Started:  To start meditating, first realize that it’s easier than it sounds.  You must realize this, because when you start doing it, it will feel almost too easy, and that’s how it should feel.  You simply start by sitting in a comfortable position, and then you focus on your breathing.  When your mind wanders and other thoughts begin to pop into your head, bring your mind back to your breathing.  By doing this, you’re training your mind.  This is the beginning of meditation, and it only gets better from here.

That’s how you start, but here are some tips to make if more effective:

  • Start small.  Even if you only have five minutes, or even two, to meditate each day, start with that.  The smaller you start, the easier it will be, which means you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
  • Find quiet.  It’s hard to sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breaths if there is a lot of background noise.  Find a time during the day when you can sit in complete silence.  Or use ear plugs.
  • Be still.  If you’re a fidgety person and have a hard time being still (I’m a drummer, so I understand), make sure to make it a priority to be still.  It may take practice, but stop moving while you meditate.
  • Use mornings.  While evenings before bed are a great time for meditation, I’ve found that meditating in the mornings is best to get your day off to a good start.  Or why not just do both?
  • Start now.  You may think you’re not ready to begin, but it’s so simple, just start now.  You may find that you’re terrible at focusing on your breath, but that’s why you keep doing it over and over.
  • Smile.  This is personal preference, but I find that smiling helps when you first start.  Once you’re truly focused, you’ll probably forget whether you’re smiling or not, but it creates a positive start.
  • Try guided.  If you’re having difficulty focusing or you don’t like the idea of sitting alone and focusing on your breath, try a guided meditation.  They are helpful for the beginners and the experienced.

I hope you enjoy meditation from the very beginning, but many times it can seem difficult and almost frustrating for beginners.  It’s easy to try to meditate, but it’s harder to actually do it effectively.  At first, you’ll muddle your way through a few minutes with one eye on the clock.  After a while, you’ll need to set an alarm because you’ll get lost in meditation if you don’t.  That’s a good place to be.

One very important thing I want you to take away from this article is that this is one method of meditating.  Focusing on your breath may be the most popular method for westerners today, but there are hundreds of different ways to meditate.  You may find meditation to be a great time for prayer, or to connect to a higher power in the way you choose.  And it’s great for that.

This is just the beginning.  There’s a bright future full of focus and clarity ahead.

Do you meditate?  How do you do it?  How long do you meditate for?