Meditation can seem daunting to those who are unfamiliar with the practice, and often people believe that there is no way they can possibly clear their mind for long enough to achieve any benefit. We often visualise meditation as the Buddhist monks sitting with their hands upturned on their crossed legs, chanting 'Um' repeatedly. Of course, this image is correct for some methods of meditation practice, but this is not the image you should associate with meditating.
The idea of taking some time to stand still for more than a moment can be off putting for those who feel they are too busy with their daily routine to find time to practice self-care, but in reality, meditation can be practiced in many different forms and can be done in as little as a few extra minutes of your day. The truth is, meditation is not always about clearing your mind—quite the opposite in fact, as you are encouraged to sit and observe those hectic thoughts in order to gain some understanding of what they mean, or even just to organise and sort those thoughts and worries into a productive pattern.
When your mind is consumed with stress and anxiety, the thought of sitting down for a moment quietly can sometimes seem to make you feel even more anxious about facing those thoughts, as your mind is going a million miles an hour with thoughts you feel you can't control or make sense of. Trust me, I've been there time and time again, and thought it was hopeless to even consider meditation as an option for many years because of this fact. I naively thought that meditation was a practice for those who had already mastered the art of being naturally calm and patient enough to sit in peace without a single thought of the outside world. Luckily, I was very wrong about this assumption, and I'm so glad and thankful to myself that I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a go one day when I was at my lowest. Meditation is now a practice that I feel completely lost without.
The easiest way to start is with a guided meditation. These are meditation practices that you are guided through by someone who has learnt how to customise their own meditation techniques. You can find these all over YouTube, but I would strongly recommend checking out the page Bexlife for some fantastic guided meditations adapted to all sorts of situations and feelings that often only take four minutes to complete.
After getting the hang of the basics of meditation, you can easily customise the practice for your own emotional needs. The ground rules for any meditation practice is to begin by focusing on your breath, and not trying to clear your mind, but embracing all your thoughts and observing them for what they are. It is useful to find a mantra or quote that you personally find useful or calming to repeat to yourself during your meditation. This will nail that mantra or quote into your sub-conscious for you to recall whenever those particular feelings arise again. It can feel silly at first, but just keep going until you feel your breathing start to calm and your mind is less erratic.
If you only have five minutes to spare in the morning before work, or in the evening before bed, this is enough time to sit and just focus on your breathing and your thoughts. Meditation is a simple, easy, and effective tool to help with anxiety and stress. The only rule you need to remember is "inhale, exhale."