Have you got 10 minutes to spare? Five minutes? Or even the time spent waiting for a red light to turn green? Do you wish you could find just a few moments of peace in your day? When first learning to meditate, some might think it takes a special, calm personality to be able to do it successfully. That, and an abundance of spare time, which very few of us have. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you simply have an interest in being a calmer, less reactive person, or want to be less stressed, and lower your blood pressure, meditation might be a good option for you. If not quite sure what to expect when starting out, you might compare it to prayer. In prayer, one speaks or talks to a higher power. In meditation, one listens. We let go and wait to receive our messages from our higher self.

Is your health and well-being worth setting time aside to try meditation? I sincerely hope you realize it is! There are numerous health benefits resulting from simply taking time each day to sit in silence. There are also many learning options from local instruction, classes, books, to apps, DVDs, or conferences.

Meditation is very personal and it is important to find the style that fits you. Some people are able to get out of 10 minutes a day what others need 30 minutes to accomplish. Think of it as training for any fitness program. Not everyone can run marathons or power lift. There are numerous activities from running to Zumba to softball leagues. Different strokes for different folks and all offer some level of benefit.

What counts is your commitment to yourself and your health because you deserve it.

The basic premise of meditation is to Allow. To Allow “whatever” floats into your mind. As you find your quiet spot to pause and sit, allowing the sounds to come into your head, simply allow your thoughts and do not judge yourself. As you follow whichever teaching tool to help you learn, these will reinforce not judging yourself for having thoughts. Rather, acknowledge the fact that you were thinking about something, then let it go. Nobody can block out all thoughts. Meditation helps us learn how to let them go. Think “In one ear and out the other.” Or envision a tennis match where you simply choose not to hit the ball back. You have the choice which thoughts to engage further or let go.

This really can be a special gift to give yourself and a way to turn compassion inward. We need to be gentle and caring toward ourselves, and meditation helps us learn how to do that. The easiest way to “come back” to being centered in meditation when you have noticed a thought is to focus on your breathing. For example, your brain might be saying, “I have sat down in a quiet room and closed my eyes. The alarm on my cell phone is set for 20 minutes. We’ll see if I can make it. Did I turn off the oven? I think we’re low on milk. I should write that down or I’ll forget.” Simply focus on your inhalations and exhalations as you let go of the thought train.

It’s amazing the number of thoughts going through our minds as we sit trying to be quiet. Thinking is habit for the mind and the practice of meditation helps us break away to moments of silence. It is in that silence when we can hear what our higher power has to tell us.

What happens as you practice more and more, and there’s a reason it’s called “practice,” is one day you are going be meditating and have a thought. When you have this thought you will realize that until you noticed you were thinking, you had NOT been engaging a thought. Nothing. (I call that a Pocket of Peace.) Just quietness. Stillness. And that, my friends, is when one begins to realize the gift meditation can bring to your life.

Originally published at medium.com