A Step-by-Step Guide to Beginning a Meditation Practice To Relieve Stress

It’s not as hard as you think.

Woman sitting in mediation, overlooking a tranquil lake and mountains.

Photo courtesy of Canva

You’ve Heard the Benefits of Meditation for Stress Relief

You’ve heard the benefits of meditation for stress relief, but taking on the practice feels so daunting.  Do you have to sit in complete silence for an hour?  Because, you’re having trouble sitting in silence for five minutes!  You’re wondering how people even do that.  You think, “Meditation must not be for me.  Other people benefit from it, but not me.”.  In this article, I’ll share a step-by-step guide to creating your own meditation practice for stress relief.

First, the information you’ve heard on meditation having amazing stress-relieving benefits is correct.  It can help reduce overall feelings of negativity, help you find new perspective on stressful situations, lower your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and increase patience and tolerance.  Meditation can also improve your sleep quality, which can help with negative emotions.  

Second, you may have not found the type of meditation that works best for you.  For example, some people cannot sit still.  It makes them feel more stressed.  If that’s the case for you, you may be more successful with a movement meditation.  You could also try a mindfulness meditation.  In fact, you may already do mindfulness meditation, and you just didn’t know it was a form of meditation.  

Try Some of These Types of Meditation

Whether you are just getting started, or you have had a meditation practice for a while, you could benefit from trying some of these types of meditation to relieve your stress.  

  • Traditional meditation in smaller doses – You can try traditional meditation, where you sit upright with your feet on the floor, eyes closed, in complete silence, but do it for 1–5 minutes, instead of an hour.  You can increase the time you sit in meditation over time, if you like.  
  • Guided meditation – This is a type of meditation where you listen to someone else guide you through a meditation.  There are all types of guided meditations.  Some use music, and some just have a person speaking, telling you what to do or think about.  Local yoga or meditation studios often offer group meditations.  You can also listen on YouTube, or an app like, Insight Timer, Headspace or Curable.  YouTube and Insight Timer are free, and the other two require a subscription.  Try the free versions first, to see if you like this type of meditation.  
  • Movement meditation – If you’ve ever been on a quiet walk in nature, you’ve tried this one.  Yoga is another popular type of movement meditation.  Some bodies just can’t sit still.  It is not in their nature.  For others of us, when we are feeling anxious, sitting still is just not possible.  Other types of movement meditation are Qi Gong, Tai Chi, dancing, stretching, and even cleaning.  Have you ever gotten deep into thought while vacuuming?
  • Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness meditation is training your brain to slow down, and take in your surroundings, to help you stay in the present moment, instead of worrying about the past, or fearing the future.  Mindfulness activities include:
    •  breathing exercises
    • naming things you see around you (like, name 5 things that are blue, or name one thing you can see, one thing you can hear, one thing you can smell, and one thing you can touch, for example)
    • focusing on a task, like art, music, a sport, or woodworking
    • visualization 

A few mindfulness practices I like are, driving in my car with no music, and imagining a room in my childhood home, while naming everything I saw there.  It goes like this, I’m walking up to the green front door.  There is the tiny window at the top, with the decorative wooden bars.  As I open the door, I see the wallpaper on the right with gold swirls.  When I look to the left, I see the formal living and dining room.  There is a yellow floral sofa, with two floral paintings above.  Across from that is a big picture window, etc. I use this one as I fall asleep at night.  It gets my mind off of worrying about things that I can’t change from the past, and fear of the future.  I fall asleep usually after detailing one room in the house.  I’ve done this by visualizing rooms in my grandmother’s house, vacation homes, and even my own home.  Just use any place that you feel safe.

A Few Things To Not Stress Over  

Don’t stress over these things when you are starting a meditation practice.  Don’t stress over whether you are doing it right.  There is no right.  It’s just a matter of what works for you.  If you feel more stressed than you were before, that practice is not right for you (or maybe you’re just trying too hard).  If you feel better afterward, more focused, more peaceful, more emotionally regulated, then that is a good practice for you.  

Also, don’t stress over completely clearing your mind.  That is a misconception that a lot of people have.  Instead, allow your thoughts to flow.  When you notice a thought that is upsetting, acknowledge it, and allow it to move on through.  Bring your attention back to your movement or breath.  

Lastly, don’t expect any huge differences right away.  I usually have to listen to a guided practice at least twice, before I can really focus.  It may take a few days, or even a few weeks before you start noticing any big improvements to your stress level, but usually you will feel somewhat better right away.

Steps For Starting Your Own Meditation Practice

  1. Pick a type of meditation to try.
  2. Set aside 1-20 minutes for your practice.  Choose either morning or evening, depending on your schedule.  I like to do mine first thing in the morning, but I’ve built in some other mindfulness practices during the day.  
  3. Find a quiet place with no distractions.
  4. Analyze how you feel afterward.  Was this a good practice for you?  What could be done differently to make it better?
  5. Repeat as desired, or try another form of meditation.  A regular meditation practice will bring the most benefits.

You’ve heard so much about the benefits of meditation, because people have used meditation for thousands of years to relieve stress, promote a tranquil mind, listen to spiritual guidance, and experience other health benefits.  The stillness meditation brings is missing in many of our everyday lives, that are filled with a bombardment of information every second of every day.  Bring back your peace with your own meditation practice.

What has been your experience with meditation?  Let me know in the comments.

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