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Meditation Is the Antidote to Your Crazy Life, Here's How to Start

Curious about meditation but don't know where to start? Here are eight easy steps anyone can do
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If one of your New Year's resolutions is to be more mindful, adopting a meditation practice may be just the ticket to help you achieve this goal. Especially if you live a busy and hectic life (and who doesn't?), it's important to find peace of mind in moments throughout your day. Not only will it better ground you and bring you closer to your feelings and emotions, but it will help relax your nervous system and aid your overall health since you'll experience less stress on a daily basis.

Depending on the spiritual discipline, a meditation practice can take many different forms, from simple breathing techniques to chanting complex mantras, says Kerri Axelrod, certified integrative nutrition health coach and yoga instructor. "One common principle among different disciplines is using the practice of meditation to access deeper brain wave states, which is primarily what I focus on with my clients," she says. "A consistent meditation practice has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, help clear distracting thoughts and boost brain power."

Not sure where to begin on your meditational journey? Read on for our guide to how to meditate for beginners, using eight steps that fit your life.

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Start where you are

Even though a meditation practice is something that's meant to calm and relax you, the act of adopting one can feel like just another "to-do" on your list. "If you are new to meditating, sitting for an hour or even 20 minutes is likely going to feel impossible," Axelrod says. "Your mind may be too distracted and it may be uncomfortable for you to sit still for that long." For this reason, she recommends simply starting where you are. "I suggest my clients start with five minutes a day and then increasing the amount of time they spend meditating as they become more familiar with it."

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Find time in your day

Starting your day off with your meditation practice is your best bet since it helps set the tone for your entire day. "Starting your day calm and centered will have positive effects throughout the day as opposed to starting your day in a hurry and stressed out," Axelrod says. "With that said, meditating in the morning doesn't work for everyone and it is sometimes easier to carve out time to meditate before bed." Do what's best for your schedule and lifestyle instead of forcing a time that just doesn't work. "Once you develop a consistent practice and start experiencing the incredible benefits of meditation, you may ultimately decide you can find time in the morning," adds Axelrod.

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Carve out a space to meditate

While you can meditate pretty much anywhere, it's most effective to seek out a spot that's calm and quiet. "This tranquility will help you move out of your central nervous system and into your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system for rest and digest)," Axelrod says. To enhance that space, consider adding accessories such as a meditation pillow, some incense, candles and essential oil to truly make the space your own.

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Focus on the breathing

"Your breath can be a powerful tool in helping you cope with temporary emotions," Axelrod says. If you're feeling sad, fatigued or depressed, she suggests focusing on lengthening your inhales and if you are feeling anxious and stressed, focusing on lengthening your exhales. This simple act of breathing in and out can help calm your nervous system down and put your mind at ease.

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