Similar to how we must train our bodies to keep them in optimum health we must also train our minds. Meditation is plain and simple this act of training the mind. When the mind is left unchecked and untrained it slowly begins to take over our life, willing itself to become the master of our universe. Conversely when it is trained properly through meditation the mind develops into a sharp and skilled tool that we can utilize and control to our liking, using it consistently to our advantage. Your inner voice should never be the one doubting you, putting you down, worrying, wondering and stressing, instead it should be the guiding voice and constant aid that allows you to tackle the world and handle anything thrown in your direction. Much like the physical body, if your mind is untrained it will hinder and cause you pain, while if it is healthy and trained, it will take you anywhere and everywhere you desire to go.
One of the main misconceptions about meditation is that it's tied to a certain sect or religion, this is completely false. Meditation has no discriminating beliefs whatsoever attached to it, it is all inclusive and can be done by anyone, at anytime, anywhere, which is part of it's beauty. You don't need to spend a dime, purchase a membership or visit a certain facility to start your practice, all you need to do is give yourself the gift of time and concentration for a certain period of each day. A time to put down the "To do" list of your life and simply BE.
My recommendation is to start with 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night for your practice. Make sure to schedule this time into your day and not leave it up to chance whether it occurs or not. Remember, meditation is a gift to yourself and all of those around you and that you must prioritize it and discipline yourself to create a habit of consistently practicing. It is just as important if not more important than anything else you will do throughout the day because simply put, it has the power to improve every aspect of your life. Meditation has been scientifically proven to increase general happiness and mood, improve efficiency at work, increase immune system function, increase social connection and emotional intelligence, increase attention span and concentration, improve your memory and (amongst many other things) decrease stress and anxiety levels. In short, meditation has the capacity to improve your physical health, your mental health, your home life, your social life and your professional life as well as increasing your levels of happiness, joy, satisfaction and wellbeing all simultaneously. This sounds like something you should have started doing yesterday!
One of the best parts of meditation is that there's no wrong way to do it and there is a 0% chance of failure. When it comes to meditation, everyone is a winner and no matter what it's a success. This is because the act of meditation is the process as well as the goal. Think of it like laying in a large green field on a beautiful sunny day, gazing at the passing clouds, planes, birds, and weather patterns. The act of meditation is just like gazing at the sky, only the sky is your mind and you are gazing internally not externally. It is observing all that passes through, not judging or attempting to control or change, but simply watching and noticing the clouds that pass by (thoughts), the planes that pass through (distractions), the birds fly by (ideas), and any changes of weather patterns (emotions). Again, it is impossible to fail or do badly at meditating just as it is impossible to fail at watching the sky, the purpose is to observe and notice, if you have created the time and intention for yourself, you have already succeeded.
Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere because it is simply taking the time to BE, rather than do. In our lives we move from task to task and place to place with often no pauses in between, normally barely a second to breath between one activity and the start of the next. Meditation is that breath, mediation is that break, and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and in any position. The most common posture for meditation is sitting in a chair but you can also stand, walk, sit on the ground, or even lay down. Whatever is comfy for you and the most convenient in order for you to be able to stay still and allow for deep introspection. It can also be done with eyes open or closed, indoors or outdoors, at work or home, in silence or with music and noise, and in solitude or with other people.
One of the effects of a consistent meditation practice is the realization that the mind is a separate entity from the true self, or spirit if you will. The mind is your tool, it by definition is not YOU, it is YOUR mind. You are the master of the mind, it is your tool. The reason it appears to be your true identity is because through years of allowing it to run wild and untrained you have been conditioned to react to it as if it's your master and that you are its slave. You have been conditioned to REACT to everything around you how the mind tells you to indiscriminately without pause. Rather than using your true self to wait, assess the situation, review your goals and options, and then proceed accordingly with the action that will best aid you. This is being in true control of yourself and your path. Through meditation we are able to develop what is normally STIMULUS directly followed by REACTION into STIMULUS, CONTEMPLATION and then desired, chosen RESPONSE. With this we are able to decide for ourselves whether to trust the mind and follow it down it's chosen path OR to stop and disregard the advice or demand of the mind. A hammer, though a very useful tool, it not the tool for every job, just like our emotions and the reactionary mind are not the tool for every situation. We can recognize that often the minds chosen path is a conditioned REACTION, NOT a chosen, intellectual, compassionate response, and that it will not bring us what we desire, but instead will bring us into uncharted, normally stormy waters. Through meditation the emotional self, the reactionary mind, is no longer in control, you are no longer a slave to it. Emotions will still pop up, unkind and unhelpful thoughts and desires will still manifest, but you will be able to pick and choose which ones are helpful and should be utilized, and which ones are useless and potentially harmful and simply let them pass like a cloud drifting through the sky, no longer enticing you and to cause a storm.