Many people would like to learn how to properly meditate. It is a practice that dates back to the inception of Buddhism in India, but meditation is used in many other religions as well, including Hinduism and Christianity, and it is also a secular practice that is often linked with the ancient practice of yoga and modern-day stress relief.

Meditation helps mainly to center your mind and achieve a sense of peace that is meant to last not only during the time that you are meditating but throughout your days and nights as you go about your life. Meditation centers your mind. Many people are confused and think that when you meditate you must “zone out,” or not be present. The truth is the opposite of this.

When you are properly meditating, you are completely focused on the present. You hear and acknowledge every sound, every smell, and every physical touch. You are hyper aware, for example, of your exact posture, which of your body parts are touching the ground, and how your hands and legs are folded. In addition, you are hyper aware of your thoughts. Yes, your aim should be to form a clear mind and to let thoughts drift past you–not becoming overwhelmed by to-do items that pop up or regrets of the past or worries or fears for the future–but you should also acknowledge all of the thoughts and feeling that come up.

Meditation experts say that if a thought–say, for example, a worry about something you did–occurs, you should acknowledge it. Some books say to, “say hello” to the thought or feeling. Say to yourself, “hello regret,” or “hello fear,” and accept that this is a feeling you are currently experiencing. The mind should be gentle and at peace while meditating. Thoughts or feelings of any kind should not be shunned, but embraced. Only then will they truly sink in and very quickly, be on their way, so that you can focus on a peaceful and clear mind.

Regular meditation will not only help you to have a more peaceful attitude. It will also reduce stress in your life. Those who meditate–because of the above information–become much better able to deal with the rocks that life can throw at them. Meditation is slow, and it is in many ways a practice in patience and acceptance of the here and now.

To properly meditate, you will need a firm cushion. Meditation is ideally done on the floor in a quiet place, though some sounds should not bother you. Put your meditation cushion on the floor and sit cross legged on it with your bottom toward the front edge. The aimed at position is full lotus, wherein your right foot is crossed onto your left knee and your left foot is crossed onto your right knee. This may be difficult, so you can also do the half lotus with just one foot crossed onto a knee and the other underneath.

You want to have a “three point position” meaning that three of your body parts are touching the floor: your bottom, and your two knees, so aim your legs downward in front of you as you sit cross legged in lotus on the floor. As a side note, if you are unable to do any of the lotus positions, sit on your knees.

Set a timer in front of you. Set it for just 10 minutes to start. Meditate at the same time each day, and as you go on, add more minutes. When you start the timer close your eyes lightly. Sit tall with a strong and straight back but do not tense any of your muscles. Relax. Breathe in deeply and out deeply. Do this three times then return to normal breath. Now just sit. Try to focus on your breathing and if you have a thought, let it come, and let it go. Continue breathing evenly.

It is sure that the first few times you meditate may be difficult. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll be feeling wonderful in your daily life, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll have much better relationships with those around you. Meditation is an excellent tool and one that will serve you forever.