By Kelly Werthmann

(CBS4)– One year into the pandemic and, let’s face it, the last 365+ days have been a bit stressful. Our lives have changed in ways we never quite expected, and it can sometimes be difficult to soothe our anxieties and stress.

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Perhaps you’re among the many who’ve been recommended to try meditation to ease your mind but aren’t sure where to begin or if you’re doing it correctly. You’re certainly not alone.

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“A lot of people think that the purpose of meditation is to reach nirvana,” CBSN Denver’s Health & Wellness Contributor Erica Ballard said. “But the purpose of meditation is to raise your awareness. A lot of times when people start meditating, they think they’re doing it wrong because they see all these thoughts flow through. But remember – meditation is the practice of awareness and in the beginning, it’s awareness of thought.”

If you think you need to sit cross-legged in a dark room with your eyes closed and have candles or incense around you to meditate, think again.

“Meditation is like the book ‘Green Eggs & Ham’,” Ballard explained. “You can do it anywhere – on a plane, on a train, on a bus, on the street! You can do it standing up, sitting down. You can do it walking or laying in your bed. You can do it with your eyes open or your eyes closed because there’s no wrong way to meditate as long as you’re practicing awareness.”

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(credit: Getty Images)

And, if you weren’t already aware, there are some apps to help get a meditation newbie started.

“I love guided meditations because they teach you how to meditate and they teach you how to deal with those thoughts,” Ballard said. “My favorite apps are Headspace, Insight Timer and Calm.”

Ballard, a certified health coach, recommends anyone who wants to start mediation to begin with two to five minutes a few times a week. She said this will build the “meditation muscle.”

“Research shows that between 15 to 20 minutes is a sweet spot to get meditation’s benefits of anxiety control, stress reduction, increased intention, attention span,” she said. “The research also shows that frequency matters more than duration when getting started. So, what I recommend is that people work to get in shorter meditations more often.”

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For more healthy living tips, check out Erica’s website.

Kelly Werthmann