Why meditation? Many people use it as a way to reduce stress, anxiety, depression or pain, and increase peace of mind. Although the practice of regular meditation is ancient, research into its potential health benefits is relatively new.

Meditating regularly is credited with reducing stress and negative emotions and increasing self-awareness, patience and creativity.

Mediation works to control the sympathetic nervous system, which increases your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and stress. The way to know how meditation can help you, especially with reducing stress , is to experience it. It takes mental focus. All that’s needed is a few minutes of quiet time and practice.

The Harvard University Center of Wellness offers these guidelines to get you started:
1. Choose a quiet place to relax and meditate.
2. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with your back straight.
3. Close your eyes or focus on a single object (e.g. a photo or candle).
4. Breathe slowly, deeply and gently.
5. Keep your mind focused inward or on the object: steer it back if it wanders.
6.Breathe peace and quiet into your heart and mind.

Meditation comes in many forms, including concentration, heart-energy-centered, mindfulness, tai chi, transcendental and walking. You might consider meditating with a group of people for a more powerful experience. And having a teacher can help you learn and succeed with mediation.

Kelli Louden, LCSW