Many people fear they don’t know how to meditate or that they are not doing it right. You may have said to yourself in the past you can’t meditate or think you can't shut off your mind. Not to worry, The Meditation Initiative has simplified it for you. The most challenging part of meditation is actually making the time to sit and meditate. Once you are sitting the rest is very easy.

Let’s clear up many of the common misconceptions of meditation:

1. Realize there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Any time you sit and pay attention to your breath and watch your wandering mind, you are meditating.

2. You must realize that your mind will not stop thinking. You are not trying to stop your mind or control your thoughts, you are simply trying to watch your thoughts. Realize that any good mood is from thoughts you have and any bad mood is from thoughts you have.

3. You will not think nothing, do not try to empty your mind. You are trying to pay attention to your mind.

4. Do not approach meditation as an escape from reality. Approach meditation as a way to actually listen to your own mind and understand your thoughts. Meditation is not an escape, it is direct perception into your own thoughts.

5. When meditating, do not expect anything to happen to you. You will not float away, you will not solve all your problems, and do not meditate with the expectation of any reward. Meditate for no other reason than sitting and getting familiar with your breath.

When you begin your meditation practice, do not expect anything to happen. You are not meditating to be good at meditation, there is no reason to be good at sitting and doing nothing. You are meditating to experience more peace and calm in your everyday life outside of meditation. Meditation is just the practice of being peaceful. We have become really good at being angry, sad, depressed, anxious, and stressed. So now we need to become better at feeling peaceful.

Since there is no goal or time limit with meditation, it becomes very easy and something anyone can do. Even if you are angry, sit for 5 minutes, try to follow your breath and watch your thoughts. Just begin to know what it is like to be angry and not act on your anger. Begin to develop a daily habit of sitting in meditation for 5 minutes a day. Just like brushing your teeth, meditation should become something we do daily. Meditation is a preventive measure to decrease stress, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression. Do not wait for these negative emotions to occur. Practice meditation daily regardless of the mental state you are experiencing.

When you begin to sit in meditation, simply close the eyes and take 3 deep breaths. Taking a few more deep breaths and beginning to really follow each breath, feeling the breath form the stomach, up into the chest and lungs and up into the head. Then follow the breath all the way out. Begin to notice the busy mind, the racing thoughts and any mental emotional state you bring into the practice. After a few moments, settle into a natural rhythm of the breath. Never expecting silence during the meditation, just expecting to sit and breath.

Begin the meditation with bringing your attention and awareness to the stomach or the chest. When breathing in, feel the stomach and chest rise and when breathing out, feel the stomach and chest fall. Spend a few minutes just following the sensations of the breath. When the mind wanders or gets lost in thought, (which it will), simply recognize the wandering mind and bring it back to the breath. Do not become frustrated with the wandering mind. Do not try to stop the wandering mind, try to notice it and let it pass. Just as clouds slowly floating by, so do the thoughts. Always pulling your attention back to the breath. We want to simply learn to be comfortable in silence, observing all sounds, sensations, thoughts and constantly guiding our attention gently back to the breath. We use the breath as a guide because it is always there.

At the end of your meditation, recognize the body being still, the speech being quiet and the mind beginning to settle. Now know what it is like to just sit and breathe. Again, take 3 deep breaths to end the meditation. Once you have finished, notice how you feel paying attention to the speed of the mind and the pace of the thoughts. Compare that to when you began.

When you continue with your day, notice how long that calm feeling stays with you. The more you practice meditation, the longer you will stay calm and peaceful outside of meditation. In fact, when you stand and continue with your day, is truly the beginning of your meditation practice. If at any time during the day you feel anger, stress, or any negative emotion, simply stop and take 3 deep breaths, then continue.

Jeffrey Zlotnik leads a 5 minute meditation at TEDxYouth@SanDiego. If you have never tried meditation, this is a perfect time to start. Click Here to Begin...

"I was able to quiet my mind and begin to compose music!" - 20 Year Old at Braille Institute