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In this day and age, when everything is fast-paced and high-pressure, a little peace and quiet goes a long way towards restoring mental and spiritual balance. Meditation is a tool anyone can employ to achieve a bit of serenity in our otherwise hectic lives.

There are a lot of methods to meditation, I will only touch upon a few tips to help beginners on their path to peace. There are many reference tools available on the subject, including books and web sites, for further study.

The space in which you meditate is important. Meditation most likely will fail if you attempt to do it in a noisy room, with distractions such as a television, telephone, or window looking out on a busy road. Try to find a quiet place that has some personal significance to you. That is, if your bedroom is quiet and comfortable, try meditating there.

Many people achieve wonderful results travelling to a peaceful spot, surrounded by nature. The silence and beauty that unspoiled natural places provide can be a great boon to peace of mind. Once you have settled upon a good environment, consider your attire.

Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes allow you to breathe easier and relax. Choose clothing that will be conducive to clearing your mind and easing your body into rest. You may want to remove any jewelry that irritates your skin or makes distracting noises, such as bells, bangles, and chains.

The first step to achieving successful meditation is breathing correctly. Deep, filling breaths are a must, and try to visualize that your breaths are grounded in the center of your being, and the oxygen is extending throughout your body to your extremities. Close your eyes as you breathe, and listen just to the sound of the air as you inhale and exhale. Imagine that with every inhalation you take in serenity in the form of white mist, and with every exhalation you expel the stress, unhappiness, anxiety and other unpleasantness in the form of a dense dark cloud.

Sit cross-legged, or with your back supported well, or stretch out prone or on your back. Allow your muscles to unwind, and your joints to slacken. When your breathing is even and deep, and your body feels limp and comfortable, it is time to tackle the task of emptying your mind of stressful, harried thoughts. Some find it useful to picture your mind as a blackboard, and all the thoughts swimming therein as writing in chalk. As you picture your hand wiping the chalk off the board, let go of each thought, until the blackboard--and hopefully, your mind--is clear.

How you choose to proceed is a matter of personal choice. I enjoy imagining a journey to a fantasy world, taking in every sight, sound and smell as I do. This enhances my creativity and gives me a feeling of "escaping" from day-to-day life. Some people prefer guided meditation, oft listening to a voice recording on tape guiding their thoughts through the meditation process. Some prefer to leave their mind blank, and to heighten their senses, paying particular attention to the environment (this works very well in a natural setting).

A few miscellaneous tools that are oft handy in meditating successfully are incense, music, and pillows. Soothing incense (nothing jarring or overpowering) can be uplifting and can enhance your surroundings, particularly if you are indoors. Quiet background music can help to clear the mind and calm the nerves. In particular, look for New Age music--harps, strings, and gentle vocals are best. Soft pillows are excellent to prevent cramping or soreness from hard floors (if indoors) or bumpy terrain (if outdoors).

Most important to meditating successfully is finding a method that works best for you. Everyone has different needs and different tastes. Experiment with many styles, and invent your own! When you find the perfect route to achieving tranquility, you will know-and you will feel purely serene, and better prepared to deal with whatever life may bring. Be patient, it usually takes much practice to achieve successful meditation.