Many friends have been asking me why I started meditating. In one word, meditation is the art of silencing the mind. When the mind is silent, concentration is increased and we experience inner peace in the midst of worldly turmoil. This elusive inner peace is what attracted me to meditation. Meditation is about training your brain to bring your thoughts and feelings into awareness; it’s about examining who you are and your place in the world; it teaches you to appreciate every moment for what it is.

Julie Meditation

To begin the practice of mindful meditation, find a quiet space. Set a timer for five minutes (or 10, or 15 — it doesn’t matter) and sit with a straight back (Don’t try to meditate lying down because you are likely to fall asleep). Meditation is quite different than the relaxation of sleep! When we really meditate, we are fully alert and conscious. Rest your hands on your knees, relax the shoulders, open the chest and soften the belly. Then close your eyes and connect with your breath by focusing on your breathing without trying to direct it; just pay attention to its natural movement. Your breath is your anchor to the present moment and will guide you back when your mind wanders off in thought.

During your meditation, you may experience feelings of frustration, boredom, fear, anxiety, pain or anger — this is all normal. Acknowledge them, and then let them go. Usually, the mind tries to hold several different thoughts and ideas at once. When you sit down to meditate for the first time, you realize how cluttered the mind is. One helpful technique is concentrating on a candle flame. When you get distracted, go back to focusing on the candle flame. You can also use other objects like a picture or flower (I’m using my mom’s letter). The important thing is that you concentrate only on one thing at a time. Simple right? Try it tonight!

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