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Thinking about adding a little meditation to your daily routine, but not sure you can invest the time? Or maybe you’re one of those people who just can’t be convinced that it’s for you. Turns out, you don’t have to burn stinky incense, be Woody Harrelson or move to California to meditate. In fact, you don’t have to do much at all. Starting a meditation practice is as simple as quietly paying attention to your thoughts and surroundings, but the effects can be quite profound.

Isn’t meditation just a bunch of nonsense?

The skeptic says:

“LOL, can I check my phone?”

The people doing it say:

“Everyone can benefit from the scientifically proven rewards of meditation,” says Conquering Lion Yoga founder Kelly Morris, whose clients include Sting, Madonna, Donna Karan and Christian Slater.

And meditation’s benefits are well established. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and according to a Harvard study, it can improve the brain regions associated with memory, empathy and stress.

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Chanting is what those people at the airport do, right?

The skeptic says:

“I have to be drunk to do karaoke, so what makes you think I’ll even do this?”

The people doing it say:

Although meditation can be integrated into religious practice, one doesn’t necessarily come with the other. Mindfulness meditation, like that taught by University of Massachusetts’ Stress Reduction Clinic founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, is an entirely secular practice. Making sounds, like a chant, may help some people to meditate, but they’re not necessary.

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Why is everything so hard?

The skeptic says:

“I haven’t been to a gym in like a year.”

The people doing it say:

“If you feel the smallest inclination to try and start meditating, listen to it,” says Morris. “That small voice inside you knows what it’s talking about.”

She recommends setting a timer for three minutes and sitting at the same time every day, preferably first thing in the morning.

“In the beginning, sitting down and being quiet when you have five million things to do and kids are clamouring and the dog is barking can seem like a miraculous feat,” acknowledges Morris. “Over time, once the benefits are felt, [you’ll] want to sit for longer and longer.”

It takes several weeks to form a new habit, so you’ll have to be diligent, but remember: reduced anxiety and improved brain function is what you’re working towards.

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Is it easy or do I need an app for it?

The skeptic says:

“Sometimes I only read headlines of articles, so if I’m doing this, y’all are going to have to spell it out for me.”

The people doing it say:

Start in a comfortable seated position and focus on the present moment. Feel the seat beneath you and the clothes on your skin, says Morris. Concentrate on the air on your face, the sounds of the room, the thoughts and sensations occurring right now, right here. “The more you can key in to the literal present — the temperature of the room, the weight of your body, the rise and fall of your chest,” says Morris, “the more you can take that skill set out into the world.”

Distracting thoughts will inevitably pop up, but treat them like clouds in the sky by simply acknowledging them and letting them pass by without judgment. Don’t focus on them, like her:

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Is this a solo thing?

The skeptic says:

“#foreveralone”

The people doing it say:

Don’t sweat it. Mindfulness meditation is the simplest practice, but we live in an era of constant distractions, and if you feel like you need guidance to maintain concentration, that’s fine. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation is a wonderful audio resource, and his book Wherever You Go, There You Are is a great primer. YouTube also hosts plenty of guided sessions, including this three-minute meditation from Dr. Susan O’Grady.

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Now what?

The skeptic says:

“I still think this is a stupid idea, y’know?”

The people doing it say:

If, despite its scientifically proven benefits, “meditation” still sounds too out-there, call it mindfulness instead. At the end of the day, no matter who you are and what you call it, meditating is good for you.

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