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Stressed? Here’s how to tap into a zen feeling (almost) instantly

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It’s common knowledge that today’s stressors are many. According to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA), American stress levels are rising for the first time in 10 years. Also common knowledge: chronic stress isn’t healthy — it contributes to a host of health issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Numerous studies have found meditation may helpful in relieving anxiety and reducing stress —it possibly could even reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. But even with mounting evidence supporting its health benefits, the implied candle lighting, time and sacred space people think they need to begin a meditation practice can be a little off-putting.

Stressed? Here’s how to tap into a zen feeling (almost) instantly
Stressed? Here’s how to tap into a zen feeling (almost) instantly

You would be surprised how rarely we take deep breaths, and it is a powerful tool to ground you in the present moment

You would be surprised how rarely we take deep breaths, and it is a powerful tool to ground you in the present moment

According to Light Watkins, meditation expert and author of Bliss More: How to Succeed in Meditation, all you really need to meditate is a place to sit with some semblance of back support. “Real people living busy lives can meditate successfully on their seven-year-old couch, in bed alone or next to their snoring partner, in the passenger seat of their car, at work, at the kitchen table, in the backseat during a road trip, on a park bench, or in a bus or plane seat,” Watkins told NBC News BETTER. “And that’s as it should be, because if you are waiting to find yourself atop a cliff-side or in a white, sparsely furnished room in order to feel like you can meditate, you’re only going to meditate sporadically, and you’re going to mistakenly conclude that what little benefit you are able to derive from your practically is magically linked to your serene environment — which couldn’t be further from the truth,” he added.

As it turns out, with just a little practice, you can zen out almost anywhere, at any time. “It feels just as delicious to drop into a meditation when you are feeling blissed out on a pillow with soft lighting as it does sitting at your desk at 2 pm right as your morning coffee wears off,” says Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation in New York City.

So how can we access this delicious peace and quiet within, like, right now? Both Watkins and Fletcher shared a few mindful meditation hacks to get you started.

1. Start practicing

The ability to meditate anywhere, at any time, just takes a little groundwork. Watkins recommends beginning your practice with just 15 to 20 minutes, first thing in the morning. “Sit relatively upright but your back does not have to be straight, and your shoulders don’t have to be drawn back. Likewise, your hands and feet should be at ease and you could even stretch your legs out in front of you, if you find that more comfortable,” says Watkins. “We’re going for supreme comfort and coziness here.” Set a timer and close your eyes.

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