You too can meditate. It may take the form of practicing a few simple steps:

  • Breathe in and breathe out.
  • Imagine you’re at a beach or other pleasant environment.
  • Notice your thoughts but don’t judge them. Instead, just let them float past you.

After using such steps, you can expand on them:

  • Take a few more deep breaths.
  • Pay attention to the sensations in your body, from your head to your toes.
  • Focus on what you are feeling, seeing, and hearing. If your mind drifts to the past or the future, bring your thoughts back to the present.
  • Breathe some more.

While the steps are simple, they may be very difficult to practice. We’re so busy that our minds are often racing from one thought to the next. We might find it hard to catch our breath. That’s why it’s important to focus on inhaling and exhaling and take the time to slow down a little.

We may worry that we can’t slow down. We may worry that if we think about things during meditation, we’re doing something wrong and that we’re not meditating properly.

But meditation isn’t the absence of thought. It’s acknowledging thoughts and trying to change them. This can be so beneficial to our mental health.

So many times, we focus on what we should and shouldn’t do. We may beat ourselves up if we do or don’t do certain things. We may lash out, abuse alcohol or drugs, or engage in dangerous behaviors because we’re punishing ourselves for real or imaginary offenses or trying to avoid pain.

Meditation helps us confront our thoughts – and even our pain – in more constructive ways. We’re confronting our thoughts, not trying to hide from them. Confrontation isn’t easy. But the process informs us. With information, we can take the next step. The step may be seeing a counselor, seeking help at a rehab center, or initiating a long-overdue conversation.

Taking this step means we’re taking action. Taking action is doing something. Doing something may make us feel better.

So while some people may think that meditation is not doing or thinking about anything, the practice can actually spur us to profound thoughts and actions.

It’s a catalyst that may spur us to bigger and better things in our lives. Knowing that we’ve taken steps to address our problems can ultimately improve our mental health.

Meditation doesn’t take a lot of time or use expensive equipment. You can practice it alone or with other people and can meditate almost anywhere at any time. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. In short, meditation is a handy weapon in our mental health arsenal.

Guest blogger: Nicole Allen is a freelance educator and writer based in Michigan and believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor since they both encourage learning and discussing new things. When she isn’t writing, you’ll might find Nicole running, hiking, or swimming. She’s participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day.

MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY CENTERS (MHCC). IS A REGISTERED 501c3 WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE #04-3585931 AND WITH FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS # CH38125 A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED BY THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS BY CALLING TOLL FREE 800-435-7352, WITHIN THE STATE OR VISITING: WWW.800HELPFLA.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.”