Too busy with work, family and everything in between? Take a breather and meditate -- it's a powerful way to relieve stress. Meditation is calming because it connects us to the emotions we're cut off from during our daily routines, says Sharon Salzberg, a teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Mass. Meditating has additional health benefits
, too -- studies have shown that it can also improve immunity, defuse negative emotions and lower blood pressure.
"Do this every day," adds Salzberg, even ten minutes a day is enough to reap the rewards. To get started, check out our beginner's how-to guide. (PS: You don't need to fill a room with candles and New Age music to do it.)
Meditation made easy
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. It doesn't matter if you're on the couch, the floor, or even in bed. The most important thing is to keep your back.
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you to quiet your mind. Try to focus your thoughts on what you're hearing, but don't "analyze" the sounds. For instance, when you hear the ceiling fan humming, just listen. Don't think, "That fan sounds so loud."
Concentrate on your breath flowing in and out. Don't worry about breathing in from your nose or out of your mouth. Just focus on feeling yourself breathing gently.
At this point, you'll probably find it hard to concentrate or notice that you're lost in thought. This is the critical moment of meditation: When you start to trail off and get frustrated because you can't concentrate, let go of the criticism and just go back to focusing on your breathing.
Keep concentrating on your breathing and bring yourself back to it whenever your mind wanders. Salzberg says that the first five minutes of meditation are the hardest, because your mind is still busy. Stay with it for as long as you can -- ten minutes is great for beginners, but keep going for as long as you like. As the time slips by, you'll eventually find that you feel calmer and more connected to your body and mind.