Choices are everywhere. Every day we make thousands of them. Which socks to wear, what to eat for breakfast, which lane to drive in on the freeway, which brand of toilet paper to buy at the store. Whether to check our email or Facebook first. Sometimes we have so many choices (choices made under pressure, choices with deadlines, choices for our children) that we begin to live choice to choice, minute to minute, hour to hour, swinging like a monkey from one thing to the next—until at long last our head hits the pillow. We can’t sleep because our mind races on—lest we forget an important detail—and then we get up and do it all again.

Our professional and family lives often demand so much of us that the best we can do to relax is take in a TV show and glass of wine before bed. When external demands run so high, how do we pause long enough to find our internal compass?

I like to look at it like this: my body, mind and heart are my instruments. I am the key to my success in this lifetime, however I choose to measure it. I am the center of my universe, so to speak. I don’t believe this is selfish. When my body, mind and heart are well taken care of, I have more energy to devote to my work, friends and loved ones. And it’s sustainable energy. When I put work into my physical and mental health, the payback is tenfold. An invaluable tool in this process (in addition to the doc’s advice: eat well, sleep well, exercise) is meditation.

I define meditation simply as the practice of going within. The definition IS simple, but I say “practice” because it ain’t always easy! There’s often a part of us that would prefer to avoid all the stuff inside that may be messy and uncomfortable, which is easy to do when distractions abound. (My inner dialogue when I sit down to meditate usually begins like this: Wait, my feet are cold, I’d better go put some socks on. Oh, and I’d better get a glass of water in case I get thirsty. And my phone in case someone really needs to get ahold of me. Oh and I haven’t checked Facebook for at least an hour!) But this is precisely WHY we meditate—to practice quieting the mental chatterbox long enough to find some quiet and stillness—which can lead to feeling centered and balanced, and in turn to sustained inner peace. I often forget to meditate when I need it the most (I’m too tired, I’m too busy), but when I set aside the time to practice regularly, everything in my life gets easier.

Meditation can be intimidating. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • There are thousands of types of meditation. Some use sound, visualization, breath-work, and even movement. Do your research. Talk to friends. Find a type that’s fun, engaging, and works for you. It will probably be challenging, but shouldn’t feel like a chore.

  • Take a beginning class or join a meditation circle: a group setting can be very helpful, especially until you have the tools you need to continue practice on your own. If you’re an experienced meditator, branch out and try something new—it may bring new life and dynamic energy to your practice.

  • Find time and space to practice regularly, away from the demands of your everyday life. This may mean creating a meditation corner somewhere in your house and getting up early one day a week or practicing after your family is in bed, so others aren’t in need of your attention.

  • Meditate at a time of day that’s conducive to your natural energy levels. Are you more energetic in the morning, afternoon or evening?

  • Challenge yourself: The best rewards are often gained outside of your comfort zone.

  • Use the tools when you need them most: in tough negotiations at work or when your kids keep you up at night. You will surprise yourself with your ability to handle difficult situations with poise. Many companies are hiring professional corporate meditation services to empower their employees.

  • Be creative in your definition. A relaxing bubble bath or walk in nature can be quite meditative. And be open to the possibilities—what do you have to lose?