NEW YORK — There are some things we all know we’re supposed to do to feel better: Drink more water, take more walks, go on fewer tequila benders.
Meditation is another — research has shown it to help with everything from anxiety and depression to better sleep, lower stress levels and chronic pain relief.
But if you’re new to meditating, it can be hard to know where to start. So start small — with five minutes of breathing exercises to calm and focus the mind every morning.
Here’s how to kick off your day — every day — with a quick and simple meditation.
DECIDE WHERE AND WHEN YOU’LL MEDITATE. Ms Alma Ivanovic, the owner of Sun and Moon Meditation studio in Chicago, meditates every morning after she wakes up, sitting on the floor against her bed frame.
Designating a specific spot helps with consistency, she said, because “it’s like a pattern. When you see that space, it’s like ‘OK, that’s what we do there.’”
SET A TIMER. Even if your mornings are chaotic, research suggests that just five minutes of meditation can decrease stress and anxiety the rest of the day.
Ms Ivanovic likes to use an hourglass so she can gaze at the moving sand, but a digital alarm on your phone works too, she said — “just make it something gentle, like a chime or a bell.”
FOCUS ON YOUR SENSES. Next, bring your attention to your body. Notice any morning noises or smells, the quality of the light, even a lingering taste in your mouth.
After a minute or so of this, “my favorite practice that feels useful is just watching your breath,” said Ms Aditi Shah, a meditation instructor for the fitness company Peloton.
CORRECT YOURSELF COMPASSIONATELY. Meditation can feel intimidating because “we don’t have a clear picture of what success looks like,” Ms Shah said.
When she first started meditating, she often felt like “a bad meditator” when she got distracted.
Despite your best efforts, stray thoughts will often creep in. The key is not to see this as a failure.
“No matter how experienced you are, your mind is going to wander,” Ms Ivanovic said. When it does, gently redirect yourself back to your breath. Use the patient, forgiving tone you’d take with a child or pet, she added.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.