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How to start meditating

Stress builds up and takes it toll on the body. We all know that by reducing stress, we can lower blood pressure, heart rate and decrease our risk for many cancers, however, many of us are not sure where to start with a meditation program. Here are a few ways to help you reduce stress and get started with some mindful meditation.

1. Take a yoga class. Yoga is known for its benefits of increasing flexibility, increasing strength and even helping people to lose weight but in every yoga class there are a few minutes dedicated meditation. The beginning of most classes will take a few minutes for you to connect with your breath and at the end of class in "sivasana" the focus on breathing and a restful mind are just a stepping stone into your own meditation session.

2. Try simple breathing. Focusing on your breath changes your body's function from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system function. This focus on breathing whereas, it happens without thought everyday, helps reduce cortisol levels. Try counting your breath for 1 minute. Count each exhale and inhale as one breath. A calm mind will be able to get breath rate per minute under 8 breaths.

3. Close your eyes and see it. Another simple way to meditate is to just close your eyes and envision a far off place that is calm and beautiful. Think of a memory that brings peace and then focus on your breath. Breathe in the calmness of this space and breathe out the nervous tension. Visualize this happening to your body.

4. Tune in while tuning out. Silent meditation is a warm space is another way to practice. At Yoga Space located in Studios FUSE, 2215 N. Halsted, Chicago, one can pick up a set of wireless headsets and listen to a guided meditation or chill music to relax, unwind and meditate in 10-30 minute sessions throughout the day. It is free for members of Studios FUSE or Yoga Space and starts at $10/session for walk-in clients.

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