The goal of meditation is to focus and understand your mind—eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. Meditation is an ancient practice, but scientists are still discovering all of its benefits.
When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into our lives: We lower our stress levels, we get to know our pain, we connect better, we improve our focus, and we’re kinder to ourselves. Let us walk you through the basics in our new mindful guide on how to meditate.
Meditation is a simple practice available to all, which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness.
Meditation is a simple practice that can be done anywhere, anytime. You don’t need special tools or equipment. In fact, the only thing you need is a few minutes.
However, establishing a meditation routine takes practice. By making time for meditation, you’ll be more likely to enjoy its benefits.
Here are the basic steps of meditation:
- Find a quiet area. Sit or lie down, depending on what feels most comfortable. Lying down is preferable at bedtime.
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Inhale and exhale deeply. Focus on your breathing.
- If a thought pops up, let it go and refocus on your breathing.
As you try meditation for sleep, be patient with yourself. A meditation practice is just that — a practice. Start by meditating for 3 to 5 minutes before bed. Over time, slowly increase the time to 15 to 20 minutes. It’ll take time to learn how to quiet your mind.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present. It’s done by increasing your awareness of your consciousness, breathing, and body.
If you notice a thought or emotion, simply observe it, then let it pass without judging yourself.
How to do mindfulness meditation
- Remove all distractions from your room, including your phone. Lie down in a comfortable position.
- Focus on your breathing. Inhale for 10 counts, then hold your breath for 10 counts. Exhale for 10 counts. Repeat five times.
- Inhale and tense your body. Pause, relax, and exhale. Repeat five times.
- Notice your breath and body. If a body part feels tight, consciously relax it.
- When a thought comes up, slowly return your focus to just your breathing.
Guided meditation is when another person leads you through each step of meditation. They may instruct you to breathe or relax your body in a certain way. Or, they might have you visualize images or sounds. This technique is also known as guided imagery.
At bedtime, try listening to a recording of a guided meditation. Here’s where you can find recordings:
While the exact steps may vary from source to source, the following step-by-step instructions provide a general overview of how to do guided meditation.
How to do guided meditation
- Pick a recording. Dim the light of your phone or device you’re using to listen to the guided meditation.
- Start the recording. Lie down in bed and breathe deeply and slowly.
- Focus on the person’s voice. If your mind wanders, slowly return your attention to the recording.