How do I start a meditation practice?

First, remember that every single person who seems comfortable in their meditation—from your friend who sits every morning to that inspiring Buddhist master you saw in a documentary—was a beginner once.

Consistency is more important than lengthy sessions. Choose a time and space where your chances of being interrupted are at a minimum. Find a seat—a cushion on the floor or a chair that allows you to sit upright, for example—where you can sit comfortably with your back straight for a predetermined time (five minutes or ten minutes would be fine). Your eyes can be closed or half-open, with the gaze directed downward in front of you. Now set your busy-ness aside and tune into the feeling of being present in your space, your body, your life. Breathe. Use awareness of your breath to anchor your busy mind. Observe the breath, nonjudgmentally, watchfully, here and now.

Thoughts will arise! You will be distracted! Great: you’ve noticed. Now come back home to the breath. Every time you realize that your mind has wandered, bring it back, gently but firmly, to the breath. This is the basis of your practice: watching, acknowledging, letting go of distractions, and willingly coming back. A healthy sense of curiosity, a fresh outlook, and reasonable expectations are your best allies.

A variety of apps and online classes are there to help. And if it’s a good fit, a local Buddhist center can offer camaraderie and instructions.


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