By J. Dana Trent

How to start a meditation practice when you're stressed

How do we keep our calm amid shape-shifting modern lives? When each new day brings worse news, how do we even consider mindfulness practices? Where do we start?

These simple steps can help you start and maintain a meditation practice, even in the midst of uncertainty.

1. Remember the ABCs

A-Acknowledge feelings. B-Be present. C-Choose calm.

2. Name your intention

Considering the "why" of meditation is just as important as the "how." The why of something maintains and sustains it. Write your why down.

3. Pick a time to meditate

It can be morning, lunchtime, evening or before bed. Anytime is appropriate – just put it on your calendar.

4. Commit to just three minutes per day

Whether you are beginning, maintaining or jumping back in, start small. You can always add minutes to your practice.

5. Don’t necessarily count on fancy apps

If a meditation app offers more distraction than peace, try an old-fashioned egg timer, stove timer or your phone’s basic timer.

6. Begin with the breath

Diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and activates the parasympathetic nervous systems, the body’s relaxation response.

7. Use counting or key phrases as you breathe

Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth as you count to four. When thoughts enter your mind, just return to the breath.

8. If you forget or skip a day, dive back in

Skip a day? Jump in where you are and don’t be afraid to adapt. Be as consistent as possible; this is where calendar reminders can be useful.

9. Practice loving-kindness

Repeat the following phrases about yourself and others.

"May I be safe, happy, healthy, and at peace. May my neighbor be safe, happy, healthy, and at peace. May my enemy be safe, happy, healthy, and at peace. May everyone be safe, happy, healthy, and at peace."

10. Aim for progress, not perfection

This is not a competition. Being hard on ourselves will not inspire us to breathe deeply. Instead, look for the tiny wins.



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