If you’re having difficulty meditating, you may be pushing yourself too hard. You’ll often get better results by learning to lighten up. These are some techniques for relaxing both your body and mind while meditating.

How To Relax Your Body

1. Sit where you feel comfortable. Meditating can take place on a chair as well as a cushion. Find a position that you can hold comfortably. Practice good posture by straightening your back and lowering your shoulders. If you use a chair, plant both of your feet firmly on the ground.

2. Walk around. If sitting for long periods causes you unease, you can start out with a walking meditation. You may also want to alternate between sitting and walking until sitting becomes more tolerable.

3. Change your position. Feel free to adjust any body part that starts to bother you. If your foot falls asleep, give it a good shake.

4. Dress comfortably. Select clothing that will let you move and breathe. That usually means loose fitting garments with elastic waist bands. Dressing in layers is also smart so you can quickly adapt to chilly or hot rooms.

5. Eat light. Stick to foods that you can digest easily like yogurt drinks or green salads. Small frequent snacks will leave you feeling more alert than consuming heavy meals.

6. Practice yoga. Yoga is one of the best conditioning programs for seated meditation. You can study simple poses on your own or sign up for free classes in most communities.

7. Work up to a full lotus. There are some advantages to sitting in the full lotus position, but you can benefit from meditation whatever your capabilities. If you want to advance to the traditional posture, targeted stretches and sitting in a half lotus are good intermediate steps.

How To Relax Your Mind

1. Let go of the outside world. Give your full attention to your meditation practice. Leave distracting thoughts behind until later.

2. Banish expectations. Look forward to whatever happens at each meditation session. Find meaning in the process instead of stewing over the outcomes.

3. Expect fluctuations. Your powers of concentration will be stronger on some days than others. Go with the ebb and flow.

4. Bring your attention back. Everyone experiences their mind wandering off sometimes. Accept it as natural. Devote your energies to spotting the issue and returning your attention to the present moment.

5. Observe without judging. Regard your passing thoughts with curiosity rather than labeling them as good or bad. Accept whatever situation you currently find yourself in and resolve to start from there.

6. Learn from every session. Take satisfaction in knowing that each session will teach you something about yourself and where you want to go. If you learn a single new thing, the time was well spent.

7. Switch to reading. Some days you may feel jet lagged or keyed up about something, like your annual performance review, for example. It’s okay to read an inspirational passage during your usual meditation time when you’re going through a hectic period.

8. Plan ahead. While you want to give yourself an adequate degree of flexibility, it can also be helpful to provide some structure so you avoid feeling at loose ends. You may want to pick a topic in advance that you plan to meditate on or designate a certain time period for how long you plan to sit.

Meditation is important, but it works best when you take a light hearted approach. Free your body and mind from needless tensions. You’ll develop a more stable sense of peace that will carry over into all your daily activities.