Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and it continues to grow in popularity. This mindful practice can help aid anxiety and depression, chronic pain, cancer, bowel diseases, high blood pressure, insomnia, addiction and so much more.

Learning how to elicit the relaxation response is the key to meditating effectively. It’s straightforward and it becomes easier with time and repetition, even if you’ve struggled to calm your mind during past meditation attempts.

Don’t expect to jump into a full-length session the first time you try meditation. It takes time to learn how to still your mind for extended periods of time. Start with just two or three minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time you meditate as you become acclimated to the practice. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Choose a time. If you’re most focused in the morning, meditate when you first wake up. If you find that you need to relax before bed, carve out a few minutes to still your mind at the end of your bedtime routine. You might also take meditation breaks at work or tack a practice onto the end of your yoga sessions.
Create the ideal meditation space. Choose a space with few distractions Your bedroom, a sun porch, or a quiet den might be good options. The space should be calming, with gentle lighting and a comfortable temperature. Place pillows or other accessories (such as beads or a candle) that you’ll need for your practice within reach. It’s a good idea to have a standalone timer or your smartphone nearby, so you don’t have to constantly watch the clock.
Sit up straight. While you can practice meditation lying down, standing up, or even walking, sitting tends to provide the optimal combination of focus and relaxation. You can sit on a cushion, a mat, or a blanket on the floor, if it’s comfortable for you. Some people place a block under their buttocks to support them. If it’s too uncomfortable for you to sit on the floor or you have a hard time getting up, sit on a chair. Press your back flat against the back of the chair and place your feet flat on the floor to keep your spine properly aligned.
Position your hands. Decide where you would like your hands to be during your practice. You might place them on your knees with your palms up or down, in prayer position at your chest, or in one of the many mudras, or symbolic positions that are part of traditional yoga practice.
Meditation Tips
Practice when it’s practical. For some people, mornings are most convenient. Others prefer to meditate at the end of the day.
Stick with it. Once you’ve found your ideal time of day to meditate, make it a habit.
Remember it’s a process. You’re not going to emerge from your first session a changed human being. Give it time and you’ll gradually see improvements.
Take your practice with you. Meditate wherever you can find a few quiet moments alone—in your bedroom, at work, or while you’re on a walk in the park.
Accessorize. Use something meaningful to you, such as a candle, a piece of jewellery, or a photo of a loved one to focus your mind.
Be prepared to be uncomfortable. Stilling your thoughts is harder than it sounds. It could take a while for you to feel comfortable in the practice.
Don’t fight the feeling. Relax into the practice. Let your thoughts drift away. Ease into your breath. Even if you feel a little bit uncomfortable, try to give in to the feeling and not push back against it.
Be kind to yourself. If you don’t get the hang of meditation right away, forgive yourself and try again. You will eventually get it.
Check in with yourself. After each session, pause for a moment and take stock of how you’re feeling. Have you let go of any tension or anxiety you were carrying? If not, do you need to relax for a few minutes more?