“Try to see the natural state of your consciousness — a state in which your consciousness is not afflicted by thoughts of the past, the things that have happened, your memories and remembrances; nor is it afflicted by thoughts of the future, like your future plans, anticipations, fears, and hopes. But rather, try to remain in a natural and neutral state.”- Dalai Lama

That’s how the Dalai Lama describes his vision of preparing to practice one of his favorite – and most discussed – tools for growth: meditation. However, while there are all kinds of different meditation practices you can try and lots of apps for your phone or your computer that will offer guided meditations, achieving this state of mind in the first place is where many people struggle.

As a result, they either don’t get all the benefits of meditation they should or give up on it altogether. Which is a shame as it has so much to offer. However, it does not have to be that way.

Going deep into a state of meditation requires effort. It’s likely that when you try it, you’ll feel like it’s not clear or that you’re stuck. This is due to a lack of concentration and intensity. You don’t know what meditation is or how to do it properly.

Our minds serve two purposes. ‘Knowing’ is the first, and ‘doing’ is the second. Meditation is all about soothing the ‘doing’ while keeping the ‘knowing.’

The majority of people begin meditating without first preparing themselves. You may not know it, but planning for the act not only makes it easier to quiet your thoughts, but it also makes the entire ritual more enjoyable and effective.

So, here are a few tips to help you calm your mind and enter a deeper state of meditation.

1. Get into a position where you aren’t entirely relaxed but aren’t completely uncomfortable. Don’t waste your time pretending to be a human pretzel by twisting yourself into a specific position. The key is to avoid having distracting physical tensions in your body that disrupt your concentration; nevertheless, if you become too relaxed, you may fall asleep. Try to sit up straight in your chair, bed, or on a floor pillow.

2. Close your eyes and keep a careful eye on your breathing. Entering a meditative state takes only a few minutes. Concentrate on taking deep breaths in and out while gradually slowing down your breathing rate. This not only removes distractions, but it also lowers your heart rate and calms your entire body.

3. Start with some quick mental exercises after you’ve adequately slowed your breathing. Circulate your attention around your body. Take note of your hands, feet, elbows, and back. Take note of how they are feeling. This can help you focus even more and eliminate distractions when you’re calm.

4. Finally, try a few visualization exercises to evaluate how long and how vividly you can keep a mental image, sound, or sensation. You should be able to move on to the purpose of your meditation after you can hold an image for ten or fifteen seconds with enough clarity.

Creating a Meditation Space

Many people, even when following the steps above, find they still have too many distractions around them to focus properly o meditation, which is why creating a dedicated meditation space can be so helpful.

It doesn’t have to be a whole room; an empty corner, an area in your closet, bathroom, living room, or even a spot in your lawn or garden will suffice. All you need to do is set aside a unique space dedicated solely to staying motionless and working out your thoughts. It’s less about the amount of space you have and more about identifying and prioritizing a space where you can focus on yourself—even if it’s only for five minutes a day.

Texture, scent, and lighting are the three most important aspects to consider while establishing your own unique meditation place. Even the tiniest of areas can be made to feel tranquil by appealing to these three senses. The space should also be welcoming and relaxing, while remaining in keeping with the rest of your home.

To make your chosen space into a warm meditation sanctuary, stock up on rugs, blankets, meditation cushions, and floor pillows. To brighten up the area, we like to put sheepskins on top of rugs and use huge pillows. If you have the funds, consider purchasing a couple meditation pillows, which are meant to relieve pressure on specific sections of the body. We all know how difficult it is to stay present when your leg falls asleep or your back hurts.

We also like to use sound baths (if you don’t want to buy your own, there are plenty of sound bath playlists online to listen to instead), Himalayan salt lamps, and candles. Infusing these ingredients can help you achieve zen-like experiences and improve your meditation practice.

You also need to try to make the most of any natural light available to you. Natural light can make you feel more awake, centered, and focused. Choose a location in your home for your personal meditation space that includes a window or skylight so that natural light can flow in.

Consider rethinking particular rooms or areas in your home to accommodate this—can you sacrifice some space in your WFH area, dining area, or living room to devote to your meditation space if you live in a small apartment or have minimal windows? Remember, this is a location that you will (ideally) use every day, so revisiting areas that aren’t getting used as much as you had originally anticipated would be the best option for creating your perfect meditation space at home.