It has become painfully clear to me that countless numbers of people are grappling with paralyzing anxiety, crippling depression, overwhelming stress and a variety of physical problems that may or may not coincide with the former mental conditions. Many people who are in therapy or under a physicians care have been told to try meditation. Try yoga to relieve your stress levels and so they flock to their mats or a cushion with little or no direction expecting both practices to work like some David Copperfield magic. Not at all how it happens friends. The word "practice" is associated with yoga & meditation because that is what it takes to reap the lasting benefits. I have to emphasize here that practice does not make perfect. Perfection, I have come to understand, does not exist. The practice is about embracing and welcoming Imperfection! Meditation can be done in so many different ways and they will all have a profound effect on the practitioner if done consistently. Consistency will arise when benefit is seen. So, the point of all of this rambling is to try to provide those of you interested in beginning a meditation practice with some simple starting points. First and foremost.....BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF AND THE PROCESS. Sitting still can be extremely difficult and overwhelming for some of us. Be patient. Sit for only 2 minutes to start with and see how you feel. Stay with that time until you and your brain are ready to sit longer. Second......be comfortable. I am yoga therapist and I do not sit on the floor or even a cushion on the floor for that matter, each time I meditate. A comfy chair or the sofa works. Sometimes lying down with bent knees is what I need. See where your body wants to be and go there. Third....avoid trying to actively "clear your mind". This cue can be daunting if not discouraging. Your mind wants to think, don't fight that. Simply distract it from it's thoughts by directing your attention elsewhere. Focusing on your breath is the easiest way to do this because you're always breathing!! Say, inhale, and exhale. Or count your breaths up to 10 and then start over. If you lose count, and you will, simply reset and start over. In the beginning, I will say use a timer but don't watch the clock. Once you recognize you can sit still then maybe set a goal of 25 breaths or something similar for focus as a short meditation. There are plenty of apps out there that provide guided meditations if you have difficulty sitting with yourself in silence but sometimes you may find the voice distracting so try self guided meditation beginning with short time spans and work your way up. A sense of calm can be achieved simply by breathing. Mental clarity. Perhaps there is some question that needs to be answered or a decision you have been struggling with. Meditation can help facilitate those answers in stillness. Meditating daily can foster an ability to be OK with things as they are. With us being as we are. This can be of significant benefit for those suffering with chronic disease or physical pain and mental pain like anxiety or depression. Practicing yoga and meditation will help foster an overall sense of peace even in the face of conflict, chaos and controversy. That sense of peace is known as equanimity. The conflict, chaos, and controversy are life. Sometimes, it is not the actual person or situation that is chaotic or controversial it is how we react to it that creates a negative, stressful situation. If we can respond from a place of equanimity, the outcomes will be more positive for everyone involved. I want to encourage you to try to begin meditating, just sitting, just being, for a few short moments each day and see the changes that can be made from such a small but powerful practice.