Meditation isn't just an effective stress-buster, it can improve your mental and physical health. And it's easy to do!

A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Think the world is too overwhelming or your life is too crazy to allow you to meditate? Actually, the crazier things get, the more meditation can help you cope. By slowing you down and teaching you stay in the moment, meditation can help you regain perspective, prioritize, and reduce your reactivity to stress.

Then there are the health benefits: Meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, prevent insomnia, aid digestive conditions, and even help protect you from diabetes and heart disease.

Maybe you think you’re too impatient and antsy to sit still for 10 minutes? That may be true at first, but trust the millions of people who’ve tried it – it does get easier. Here’s an easy guide to getting started.

1. Carve out 10 minutes. No need to set aside an hour or half an hour; ten minutes is a great start. Set a timer to alert you when your session is over. Many people find it works to meditate as soon as they get out of bed in the morning, before they succumb to the rush of the day.

2. Limit distractions. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Silence your phone or better yet, leave it in another room.

3. Get comfortable. But not too comfortable. You don’t want to fall asleep. Sit upright with your body relaxed and take deep, slow breaths. If back pain makes sitting uncomfortable, you might want to try the yoga poses known as shavasana (corpse pose) and viparita karani, or feet-up-the-wall pose.

4. Focus on your breath. Feel each breath as it enters and leaves your body, using the rhythm of your breathing to keep you grounded in the moment.

5. Accept your feelings. You may feel bored, irritated, impatient, and distracted. Acknowledge the feeling, say goodbye to it, then refocus on your breath.

6. Keep at it. The benefits of meditation build over time, so to experience them you have to practice regularly. Eventually, you’ll notice that it’s easier to focus — not only during your session, but in other areas of your life, too.

7. Try a class. Learning meditation in a group setting is a good way to jump-start your practice. Find a local meditation center, sitting group, or take a class at your local Kaiser Permanente health care center.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.