When most people think of meditation they think of the stereotype of a cross-legged person repeating “om” over and over. However, meditation is a relaxation, visualization, and breathing exercise all combined.

I nearly fell asleep the first time I meditated. When we go to sleep, our breathing slows down and the body becomes fully relaxed. The same is true of meditation. The first steps are breathing and relaxing your muscles so it’s normal for your body to go into rest mode your first few sessions.

Guided meditations, either live or recorded, are another route to take. There are tons of free podcasts and YouTube videos. Some help you sleep, relieve stress, anxiety, and even physical pain. Other guided mediations take a more creative route, such as floating in space. I once experienced a guided meditation that made me feel as if I was flying.

Numerous studies have found meditation to have a positive effect on perception, brain activity and attention, among others.

Before meditating, remember imagination can take you far. All you need to do is breath, concentrate, and imagine. Here is my routine for self-meditation: Start off by finding a quiet place where you feel comfortable; that could be your bedroom, porch, or even outside, as long as you feel safe. Lie down, sit up straight with both feet on the ground, or sit cross legged sitting straight up.

Close your eyes or gaze downward and take in a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds then exhale. Repeat several times. This is to lessen the tension in your body. After several deep breaths return to your normal rate of breathing.

Imagine a place you feel peaceful in, such as a field of tall grass elegantly dancing in the wind or relaxing in a hammock. Nothing should be forced, let your imagination and mind guide you. Take in the environment; notice what’s around you. When you are ready to end the meditation start by wiggling your fingers and toes, then slowly open your eyes. During meditation you may reach a dream like consciousness, so just like waking you regain your senses by stretching, listen for familiar sounds, like the hum of your heater or AC. 

Meditation changes your brain wiring positively, according to several studies. It reduces stress and relaxes your muscles, similar to when we fall sleep. When I have a lot on my mind sitting in silence takes my mind off conflicts or gives me time to reflect on the situation. Not to say run away from your problems but sitting in silence for couple of minutes does help every now and again.

A large part of meditation involves the Chakra System. The chakra system is basically energy, which the human eye cannot see. The body has seven chakras (the crown, the third eye, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the sacral and the base). When one or more chakras are imbalanced your body is affected. Holding onto anger can throw off your chakras.

A good place to start if you watnt to find out more is with guided meditations. It will be challenging to concentrate at first but with time you’ll become advanced.

Amina Georgie was a summer intern in the Baltimore office of the AFRO American.