A Five Minute Meditation
Finding the time to look after your health can be difficult. However you don’t need endless free time to find your balance in the busy lives we lead.
I know, I know, you’re far too wound up to meditate! Sitting still with yourself is too difficult ! You don’t have the time in your busy life ! It’s not your thing !
But wait, before you flick to another screen, or roll your eyes and get back to doing 20 different things at once, think about this. A 2013 study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience reported that meditation can reduce anxiety levels by up to 65%
Research has also suggested that meditating can actually form a new and permanent neural connections in the brain.
“Meditation trains your mind to focus on the moment instead of worrying about what occurred in the past (depression) or what might happen in the future (anxiety).” Janet Nima Taylor, Buddhist Nun.
The most amazing thing is you only need five minutes a day, anyone can do it, and the more you do it, the easier It becomes, it’s likes building muscle at the gym, more practice means better connected neural pathways – therefore dipping into either a long or short meditation becomes second nature.
So get yourself a time, a quiet space or even better a quiet room, ensure the lighting is soft or dim, remove your shoes and socks, sit comfortably in a chair or lay on the floor and begin.
Minute 1: Breathe Deeply – rest your hands on the top of your thighs with your legs hip distance apart, feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes if this is possible for you to do, if not, find a spot on the floor in front of you on which you can allow your gaze to rest, unfocussed. Shutting your eyes helps you focus on the inner workings of your body and mind, while leaving them open allows you to strengthen your ability to stay calm amidst chaos or distraction. Observe how your feet feel on the floor; what sensations are present, maybe a tingling, a tensing or maybe the hardness of the floor as it supports your feet. Now gently bring your attention to your breath, coming to stay with your breath, not trying to change your breathing, simply allowing your attention to accompany the breath on it’s journey into and out your body.
Minute 2: Find your Natural Pace – allow your breathing to fall into it’s own rhythm. Notice what your breath feels like, is it deep or shallow, slow or fact, silent or loud, however it is simply choosing to your breath to be just as it is. Tune into the rising and falling sensations of your body breathing, from your lower abdomen to your shoulders, from your nose, mouth, throat, chest, tummy and lower abdomen on the way in……and the way out…
Minute 3: Stay Connected – to your breathing. You will notice that your attention gets pulled into thoughts, shopping lists, deadlines, work, family and other such thinking that we tend to ruminate over. Simply notice the thinking and try to see each thought as a floating cloud, allow each cloud to float across the minds sky, not trying to follow the clouds, or to strain to see where they are coming from, simply notice and allow, and then come back home to your breath. The breath is our safe haven in stormy times, our anchor, a point of reference that we can always come back to. Notice the thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, then let go and bring your focus back to your breath. This breath.
Minute 4: Release your focus on your breathing, remind yourself that there is nothing else to do at this moment, nothing to fix, nothing to change, nothing to do, except be the moment.
Minute 5: Bring to mind something that you are grateful for, such as spending time with family, friends, treasured pets, or with yourself for having the opportunity to meditate. Gently bring your attention to your body, notice the relaxed state of your muscles, the calmness of your breathing. If you had your eyes closed, open them, begin to move and meet the rest of your day in a calm, cool, collected, responsive way.
Remember you can meditate for five minutes any time, any place, anywhere
What happens to your mind and body when you mediate ?
- Your brain releases Happy Chemicals – You get a boost of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, all of which are linked to good mood.
- Blood Pressure Drops – And the affect isn’t just temporary: A Medical College of Wisconsin study showed the people who meditated twice a day for 20 minutes lowered their blood pressure by 5mmHG
- Pain Diminishes – It appears to change activity in the key pain processing regions of the brain. In one study, meditators experiences a 40% reduction in pain intensity
- Swelling subsides – it can reduce stress-induced inflammation such as arthritis, asthmas, IBS. Eczema
- Digestion runs more smoothly – stress triggers the stomach churning fight or flight instinct, shutting down digestion. When relaxed, the body reboots the parasympathetic nervous system, which gets digestion flowing.
- Your heart rate slows down – When you relax, your parasympathetic nervous system engages to counter the effects of your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system, which responds to your direction, is like the gas pedal, while your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary and unconscious processes, is your idle mode. Take your foot off the pedal, and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate slows, blood vessels dilate, breathing slows and deepens, and blood pressure falls back to normal. In most people, unfortunately this automatic return to balance has been compromised by stress and other kinds of subtle imbalance. Meditation effectively restores you to a deeper standing rest rate. Once you’re balanced, your immune system is strengthened, and in terms of the heart, your resistance to stress increases. This reduces a major risk in heart disease and strokes.