Health Library

Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Stress management

Serenity now!

If you’ve ever been lost in the perfect peace of a lake at dawn, you may know the power of meditation. Meditating—quieting your mind by focusing on a single object, action or thought—refreshes and calms you at the same time. Some doctors recommend meditation to their patients to ease the stress that comes with a variety of health conditions, such as arthritis, allergies, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Does meditation work? According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, meditation can promote mental calmness, physical relaxation and emotional balance. Unfortunately, most of us still haven’t figured out how to properly meditate without losing concentration.

The good news is you can master meditation. Try these four steps to get started.

  1. Find a quiet spot. Pick a time and place when you won’t be distracted, even if it means rising 10 minutes earlier than everyone else.
  2. Get comfy. Sit on the floor, lie on your back (but not when you’re sleepy) or walk through the park.
  3. Focus. Direct your attention to one thing, such as your breath, an object, the path ahead of you or a mantra (a chosen word or set of words).
  4. Let distractions come and go. Try to stay focused, but if distracting thoughts occur, recognize them, then redirect your attention to the object of your focus, whether that’s your breath, a flower or your mantra.

Commit to meditating at the same time, in the same spot, every day. But start small—try five minutes once or twice a day and work your way up to 20 minutes. Though it sounds “new age-y,” meditation has been around for centuries and has withstood the test of time. What do you have to lose but stress?