Meditation is something many people around the world practice and have practiced for hundreds of years. For some, it's part of their religion, but for others, it's something they do because they are aware of the many benefits they can get from it.

What are the benefits of meditation?

1. More clarity: Meditation is known for giving people more clarity. This is usually because you'll become more aware of your thoughts and know which ones you should entertain and which you shouldn't. You'll often know what you want to do in your life, regarding different decisions you need to make and situations you're in.

2. Less stress, reduced anxiety/depression: As we loosen connections to the neural pathways that cause problems like stress, anxiety and depression, meditation can help you improve your mental health. It's also shown to help people look at upsetting situations more rationally.

3. Improved concentration and learning: Meditation is all about focusing the attention on the breath, the surroundings or even an object. Because of this, you'll improve your concentration in other areas of your life, especially when it comes to study and learning. You'll also retain the information you looked at much easier, as meditation actually increases certain neural pathways, and even encourages an increase in gray matter. You can expect your productivity to go through the roof, too.

4. A feeling of being a part of something bigger: Many associate meditation with religion and getting back in touch with their creator(s). You don't need to look at it this way, but meditation can give many people the feeling of being a part of something bigger. They feel more at one with others, animals and even plants!

5. A feeling of having more time: We've all wished there could be more hours in the day. Meditation won't create more time, but it can make you feel as if you have more time. Starting off the day with your meditation practice will put you in a good place mentally, so you're ready to face whatever the day throws at you. As you're more focused and productive, you might even create more time for yourself.

6. Greater self-awareness: Meditation forces us to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions and surroundings. This can mean we stop acting in an ego-based way and become more self-aware. It can also mean we become more compassionate to the feelings and plights of others.

7. More creativity: Some think that people are either born creative or they're not. This isn't strictly true. By meditating regularly, people often experience more creative ideas and thoughts. Many studies suggest that you'll often find yourself coming up with new, exciting ideas when you practice meditation regularly.

8. Improve your overall happiness: Because you'll be experiencing all of the incredible benefits that meditation has to offer, it isn't difficult to see why your overall happiness would improve. However, many also feel more positive because of the increase in gray matter, which is associated with positive emotions.

9. Reduced aging: Almost everybody is frightened of aging, but when you meditate, there’s no need to be. Your memory will stay put, as meditation diminishes the age-related effects on grey matter. You won’t need to worry about losing your cognitive function, and as you’re experiencing less stress, you may actually look younger!

How to begin meditating

These benefits are hard to ignore. How can you begin meditating to enjoy these benefits? You can start out by downloading an app to help you, if you don't want to go it alone. You could also potentially use a YouTube video to do a guided meditation.

The first important thing is to get it done, and the next is to be consistent with it. Starting is the hardest part. Here are a few key points to remember as you meditate:

  • Focusing on something is the norm for meditation. This is usually the breath or what's going on around you.
  • You won't be able to get rid of all of your thoughts. You'll likely get distracted every so often, and that's fine. Bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Both thoughts and emotions will come and go; don't hold onto them.
  • Try to meditate in a quiet area where you won't be disturbed.
  • Some people find things like yoga and coloring a form of meditation. You could also try them.
  • You don’t "find" time to meditate. You have to make it.
  • Your posture should be as follows: back straight, hands on your knees or in your lap, either sitting in a chair or legs crossed. Some say you should do it with your eyes open and a soft gaze, while others prefer to close their eyes. Do what works for you. Bear in mind that closing your eyes could mean you accidentally fall asleep when you're starting out.
  • Just let go and relax!

The key to getting it right is that you do it every day, even if it's just for 1 or 2 minutes to begin with. It's all about building that habit. You can start at a couple of minutes and then slowly build yourself up until you're in the habit of meditating every day.

Some like to do it once a day for as much as a whole hour, other people like to split it up into two sessions. However, meditating just once a day for as long as you can spare is best — five minutes is still better than no minutes.

If you can work your way up to one or two 15-minute sessions per day, you'll be well on your way to experiencing the benefits of meditation in your life.