Meditation can bring relaxation, focus, and clarity to your life — just don’t expect it all right away.

Student meditatingFor many, the word ‘meditation’ evokes thoughts of inner peace, true wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, and even extra sensory perception. However, my first piece of advice for anyone interested in meditation is to forget all that mystic mumbo jumbo.

Put all such notions completely out of your mind. Instead, think of meditation the same way you think of brushing your teeth: It’s good for you and you should do it at least once a day. The reason behind this line of thinking is simple: Clouding your mind with expectations of the fantastic will only serve to prevent you from truly focusing on the task at hand. Namely, meditating.

The startling and revelatory tooth brushing analogy doesn’t end there. Brushing your teeth is probably one of the few things you do with your full attention and concentration. You don’t brush your teeth while scarfing down breakfast on the way to class, or while you’re Napstering the Bee Gee’s “Saturday Night Fever” (arguably, their finest work).

Your sole concern is polishing those ivories — and if it’s not, it should be. In a very real way, if you’ve ever brushed your teeth like this, you’ve meditated. Mission accomplished! Anytime you do something with single-mindedness, full concentration and participation, you’re meditating.

For anyone interested in meditating without a toothbrush, here’s an exercise to get you started:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and shift forward so the balance of your weight falls 40% on your heels and 60% on the balls of your feet.

2. Place your hands, palms flat, on your abdomen. The tips of your thumbs should touch just below your belly button and the tips of your index fingers meet just above your pubic region. Basically, you’re forming a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers that points towards your “fun zone.”

Student skatingInline skating — also known as rollerblading — is great exercise and a quick way to get around. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), an hour on skates burns almost as many calories as running. It also strengthens the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the ankles, knees and hips.

Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy being outside — as long as you wear protective gear and don’t crash into large objects. And unlike other sports on wheels (biking, race car driving), inline skating doesn’t require a huge investment. You can pick up a decent pair of skates for $100 to $200, which isn’t exactly pocket change, but it’s a whole lot less than the several hundred you’d spend for a new bike.

When buying skates, finding a good fit is extremely important. “Make sure the boot of the skate is comfortable,” says Joyce Buckley, certified in-line skating instructor. Take note of any pressure spots. If skates are uncomfortable when you try them on, Buckley says, don’t expect them to break in.

If you’re not sure whether inline skating is for you, “A good solution is to rent skates — the [protective] gear comes with the rentals — and try it,” Buckley says. If you decide to buy and you’re on a limited budget, she recommends shopping around. “Look for shops that will sell you their last season rentals at a low price.”

Running is great for your body and can be even better for your head.

Running for healthImagine stepping out the door of your dorm or apartment building and returning less than an hour later with your mind cleared, your body energized, several of your problems solved, and a sweet, natural high. Now imagine that you’re feeling fitter and stronger than ever before. Sounds great, right? Luckily, it’s not impossible: You can get all these things when you go running.

Okay, maybe you won’t feel this way the first time you go running. Or the second. But if you stick with it and run on a regular basis, you’ll become a better runner and develop a healthy habit that can last a lifetime.

Runners don’t need to learn complicated skills or buy a lot of expensive equipment. Running is something you’ve been doing since, well, just after you could walk. Your running stride and body position should feel comfortable to you — everyone has a slightly different style.

Here are some basic running tips from the American Council on Exercise (ACE):