By Joanna Stevens

The art of meditation has been practiced for centuries by people all over the world. Meditation has been linked to positive changes in metabolism and has been proven to reduce stress and the perception of pain.

Many religions practice some form of meditation. There are various techniques, both Western and Asian that can help you with your practice. The trick is finding the techniques that work for you. Here are tips to help you learn how to meditate:

Try Yoga. Yoga focuses on the mind-body connection. Many classes focus on the mind by starting and ending practice sessions with meditation. Not only that, they can teach you deep breathing techniques that are essential to meditation.

Set Aside A Time and Place. Though you may want to simply fall into the lotus position and meditate even in the middle of a busy street, beginners should set aside a specific time and place to meditate, even if it is just the corner of your bedroom. Make an effort to make the area conducive to your form of meditation. Add a shrine of your choice, place your prayer beads nearby or simply fold a blanket so that you have a comfortable place to sit.

Ask Not to Be Disturbed. You may not be able to attain the state you want if your kids are constantly knocking at the door asking where mommy or daddy is. Turn off your phone, uplug the TV.

Be Aware of Your Body. Letting go of your body awareness is one of the most difficult parts of meditation. Try tensing and relaxing specific parts of your body at the beginning of the practice to bring your body and mind together. Take note of positions or involuntary actions (such as twitching) that can be detrimental to your practice.

Play music. Some people find it helpful to have calming, soothing music playing in the background. It can also help you find somewhere to focus, as you will know you have reached your perfect awareness when the music falls away.

Breathing is everything. Try starting each meditation practice with deep breathing. This calms the body by slowing your heart rate and relaxing tense muscles. Breath in through the nose, focusing on “filling” your body with air. Exhale through the nose as well.

Experiment. Some people prefer to meditate sitting up, others lying down. Some like to do it outdoors, others prefer the peace and quiet of their own homes. Experiment with techniques and poses to see what works for you.

Off Days. Keep in mind that there will be off-days or days where your mind will refuse to settle. Accept this and let your frustrations seep out. Even the days that feel like failures will have a profound effect t on your mind and body.

Use Candles. While meditating, focus your eyes on a lit candle. Close them and try to retain and focus on the image of the flame. This can help develop your mental strength. Eventually you will be able to visualize the flame without the use of the candle.

Invest. In books, CDs and classes. The more you know about meditation, the more likely you are to weather the daily frustrations and the more likely you are to succeed in your daily practice. Many contain efficient tips to learn how to meditate or to take your practice to the next level.

You can learn more about effective meditation techniques or the benefits of meditation on the web today.

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