Becoming and staying healthy can be challenging. Vices such as caffeine and fatty, sugary foods are used by many people to calm anxieties. Some try to reduce stress at the gym, but a much easier, less time consuming–and arguably just as advantageous–method to relax the body and mind is one that anyone can do in the comfort of their home. This is meditation.

Many experts concur that this practice can have not only positive effects on the mind, but it benefits the body as well, and helps us think better. “Mediation changes the way the brain responds to stressful situations,” says Beth Darnall, PhD of Stanford University. Victoria de Toledo, a partner at Casper & de Toledo, holds a similar belief. “I have been meditating for over 40 years. It gives me renewed energy and more inner resources to handle the stresses of daily life.” Victoria finds the practice not only helpful in life but specifically useful in work as well. “Meditation and mindfulness (the act of sitting quietly and letting go of thoughts) are important tools in releasing stress. I have found that the daily reduction of stress allows me to stay focused and calm in the highly charged environment of a courtroom.”

It doesn’t take 40 years, however, to become a successful meditator. Although some studies suggest 30 minute daily sessions, even just a few minutes can serve a person well. And meditation can be done anywhere, anytime.  As long as you can “keep your attention anchored to something, the breath being the most common anchor,” says John Yates, a PhD from Arizona, “you [will] notice that you’re calmer, you handle stress better, you’re less reactive, your relationships improve, and you sleep better.” de Toledo posits that “if you regularly release stress, you think more clearly and enjoy life more.”

So, how does one start this habit? Here are 5 simple steps to follow:

  1. Determine a time that works best for your schedule and make it a part of your daily routine.
  2. Find an area with few distractions.
  3. Sit in a comfortable position.
  4. When thoughts enter your mind, try to let go of them in an easy way (some people picture thoughts as clouds that float away).
  5. Use a mediation mantra (a simple word) or a guided meditation CD or app (a recording takes you through a simple meditation).
  6. Something new takes time to become a habit, so stick with it, and soon it will become an effortless daily routine.

Posted April 20, 2016