Whether you're trying meditation for the first time or have been doing it for years, there are always ways to improve your practice. Use these five tips to help calm yourself and make sure you're getting the most out of your regular meditations.

Create a Meditation Space

It's always best to have a dedicated space for meditation, whether that be a permanent altar or just a clear, quiet space. Once you've found a spot, decorate it with items that make you feel calm and comfortable. These will be the last things you see before you start meditating, and peaceful imagery will help get you in the right mindset.

Have a Clear Goal

Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn't all about clearing your mind and thinking of nothing. Especially when you start, it can be helpful to have some guidance for your thought process. There are various methods of meditation, so investigate what works for you and find some recordings that work well for you. By setting a clear focus, you will have a better meditation session, and you’ll have a clear way to know when things have gotten off track.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are an excellent way to help your body relax during meditation. Meditation involves all of our senses, so having a pleasant smell can help you relax further and separate yourself from your daily life. Try using a calming oil like lavender or sandalwood to help clear your mind. You don't have to fill your home with the smell of oils, but a subtle scent during meditation can help get you on your way to a relaxing session.

Be Kind

Sometimes your practice will be filled with intrusive thoughts and restless legs, and that's perfectly okay. Instead of viewing these as insurmountable setbacks, look at them as new obstacles to overcome. Meditation isn't a competition, so don't be too hard on yourself if one session is especially difficult. If you are a beginner, don’t worry if you can’t meditate for a long time. Meditation takes practice, so don’t worry if it takes you a while to become comfortable.

Meditate on an Empty Stomach

After you've eaten a large meal, you probably feel sluggish and tired as your body devotes its energy to digestion. You are also much more likely to fall asleep. Meditation requires alertness and a mindful attitude, both of which can be difficult to achieve while your body's processes are centered around the gut. For this reason, it's wise to save meditation for when you're neither starving nor stuffed full. This will allow you to focus on your head rather than what's in your stomach.

Be Mindful

Meditation can be a difficult skill to master, but the benefits definitely outweigh the positives. Use your meditation to focus your thoughts and relax. As you continue to learn more and practice your techniques, you will find that you have less stress in your life and that you can confront new problems with greater insight.

Author's Bio: 

Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.