If you have 5 minutes and your breath, you have all you need to make meditation part of your lifestyle.You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk and sit in silence for hours in order to meditate. Meditation can be done in as little as 5 minutes – no monastery or robes required! A simple breath meditation technique has been broken down into 5 steps below, so there is nothing standing in your way of beginning meditation today.
What is Meditation Anyway?
Put simply, meditation is a tool used to focus the mind and train your attention.Meditation generally aims to calm the mind to promote focus on a single object, experience,or sensation.
Why Should I Meditate?
1. Experience the Present
With the constant demands of daily life, it’s easy to rush around without stopping to truly experience the moment. It’s like driving to a familiar destination and arriving not remembering the journey. Meditation snaps us out of auto-pilot and brings us into the present. By focusing on the present, you quiet the to-do lists, job stress, past worries, and inner chatter that occupy your mind. It temporarily frees you from concerns about the past or future and puts you in the here and now.
2. Learn About Yourself
Meditation also gives you time to get acquainted with your inner self and the feelings and thoughts that influence your actions. It’s an opportunity to listen to your internal voice – an entire aspect of yourself you might be missing out on.Understanding why you feel a certain way on the inside can help you react differently to situations on the outside.
3. Physical and Mental Benefits
Various studies have also shown that meditation can have physical and mental benefits like reducing stress, improving focus, increasing creativity, lowering blood pressure, and getting better sleep. Improving how you feel from the inside out!
Common Misconceptions about Meditation
1. “I don’t have time to meditate.”
Meditation doesn’t require sitting for hours. In fact, most meditations are less than 30 minutes. For beginners, it is often recommended to start with 5 minutes and increase the duration as you’re ready.In the time it takes to brew your morning cup of coffee, you can complete a meditation session. Try meditating during a free moment in the morning, night, or even at your desk!
2. “You have to practice a certain religion to meditate.”
Nope! You don’t need to have a particular set of spiritual beliefs to meditate. How you choose to meditate is influenced by your intentions. You can use meditation to focus on a higher power, help you sleep, learn more about yourself, or savor experiences. It is up to you. One of the most popular meditation techniques is focusing on your breath – and you certainly don’t need a specific belief system to do that!
3. “Only hippies and monks meditate.”
With growing scientific evidence supporting its physical and mental benefits, meditation has become a mainstream activity. Meditation is practiced by celebrities, executives, athletes, and even the military! Large companies like Facebook, Google, and Disney have implemented meditation classes as a means to reduce their employees’ stress and increase productivity.
4. “I can’t sit and think about nothing.”
Guess what? Neither can anyone else! Even experienced meditators find their mind wanders from time to time. Meditation isn’t about being thoughtless, it’s about identifying when your thoughts have drifted and refocusing them. So don’t be hard on yourself – wandering thoughts are part of the process!
A Quick and Simple Meditation Technique You Can Try Today!
Below is a simple step-by-step guide to help you learn how to meditate. In this meditation you concentrate on your breath to help quiet the mind of distracting thoughts. This basic form of meditation is a great introduction to focusing your attention and being present.
Step 1: Choose a Space
Choose a place to meditate that has as few distractions as possible. Usually, this is a quiet, clutter free, comfortable area where you can remain undisturbed. Though it doesn’t need to be silent, it is helpful to reduce the potential for jarring noises. If available, meditating in a serene outdoor environment is a great option.
Step 2: Sit Comfortably
Successful meditation doesn’t require you to bend yourself like a pretzel!Sitting in the lotus position often takes time and practice before people are able to do it comfortably.While you can sit cross-legged ifyou’re able, you can also kneel or sit ina straight backed chair with your feet flat on the floor. The mostimportant thingis your posture. Be sure to sit up straight without beingtoo rigid or tense(make sure your shoulders are relaxed).Good posture helps align your body and encourage proper breathing.Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing upward or rest your hands comfortably in your lap.
You generally want to be as comfortable as possible when meditating – don’t wear pinching clothes and make sure you’re not too hot, too cold, hungry, thirsty, etc. You want to limit those distractions so it’s easier to calm your mind.
Tip: Lying down is not typically recommended because of the increased risk of falling asleep. Only do so if you’re still able to be alert and aware.
Step 3: Set a Timer
It is helpful to set a timer so you don’t have one eye on the clock distracting you from your meditation. Simply set one on your phone, preferably with a soft alarm so it doesn’t jolt you. You can even download meditation timer apps with different bells and music.
For beginners, it is suggested to start for short periods of time and work your way up to longer durations as you’re ready. You can start with as little as 5 minutes. Many people find meditating in the morning is a great way to begin their day. You can experiment with different times and choose the one that works best for you.
Step 4: Close Your Eyes and Concentrate on Your Breathing
First, close your eyes. This often helps block out external distractions and focus attention inward on your thoughts and body. Then, release any muscle tension from your body (neck, shoulders, etc). Once relaxed, concentrate on your breathing. Concentrating on your breaths is a popular meditation technique because it allows you to meditate anywhere (you always have your breath with you!) and it helps focus your mind on the present and quiet inner thoughts. Don’t overthink or change your breathing patterns, just have a non-judgmental awareness of your breath. Focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the air entering and leaving your nose. Experience each breath without comparing it to the others.
Tip: It is often helpful to count your breaths. This is a good way to maintain focus on the present moment. Counting your breaths is a more structured method for monitoring your breathing and makes it easier to identify when your thoughts have wandered. Silently count each exhalation as “one”, then “two”, up to five (or ten), then start again at “one”.
Step 5: Observe and Refocus as Necessary
If your thoughts wander away from your breathing, it’s ok! Gently nudge them back to focusing on your breaths and begin counting again from “one”. You might never reach “ten” and that is perfectly fine. Don’t be discouraged if you find your thoughts consistently drifting – this is completely normal!While meditation sounds simple in theory, it takes practice to improve your concentration.Over time you’ll notice that you can more quickly recognize outside thoughts and bring yourself back into focus.
As you observe your thoughts, you might notice patterns in the thoughts and feelings that consistently pop up. You are starting to develop an understanding of your mind’s internal chatter and reactions. By monitoring your internal voice, you can begin to better understand why you feel or react a certain way to external situations. This insight can help you better control your emotions and approach future situations more clearly and objectively.
Remember, the purpose of meditation is not preventing your mind from wandering but refocusing your attention when it does.Non-judgmentally be aware of your thoughts, observe them, and let them go.Each time you return your focus back to your breaths you are improving your self-awareness and ability to quiet your mind and be present.
Using these steps, you can start meditating today in 5 minutes! Just take a few deep breaths and you’re already on your way to a better you!