Making time to meditate gets harder and harder the busier our lives get. That is more of a reason to take time to meditate and practice mindfulness during the day.
The good news is that you can start with as little as 5 minutes of meditation a day.
It really is better to do 5 minutes a day, than to just not do it because you think you don’t have time. Don’t just take my word for it. Do it yourself and see how everything will become more clear. Just 5 minutes a day. If that is too much, start at least with three breaths, and add one new breath every day!
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb
The proverb might be a little extreme, but the principle behind it still stands. The busier you feel the more you need to meditate. So let’s talk about those five minutes every day.
The benefits of short daily meditation
There are several benefits from working on keeping your mind still. These benefits can multiply if you meditate with a strong intention. And from the several benefits, I want to talk specifically about the three that will make you more productive and efficient in your personal and professional life: improved concentration, improved memory and increase happiness levels.
The main thing that you will be developing when meditating is the ability to dominate how you react to your thoughts. During meditation your mind will work really hard to take you off the object you decide to meditate on. You will, little by little, train your mind to notice when you are getting lost in thought, and to bring it back to the object of meditation quickly.
This constant exercise will help you do the same when you are in a situation where you get plenty of different stimuli (many phone calls, emails, sms, chats!). It will also help you stay in your important tasks longer, without falling to the temptation of distractions.
When you meditate often, even for a few minutes a day, you learn to stay more present than most people. You will listen, read and speak more intently, without much effort, and because of the increased concentration, you will hold information in your mind for longer and clearer.
You will also find that you can, intentionally, go into a brief breathing moment, a state of meditation for a few seconds, that will dramatically increase your capability to remember any information you choose. This is the technique that buddhist monks use to learn full texts and recite them later.
Increased Happiness Levels
I personally believe this is the most important and best of all the benefits. And another one that I would tell you to not take my word for it, but don’t be surprise when it comes. It’s completely true. When you practice meditation regularly, you will start finding yourself more in the present moment, rather than clinging to the past (what would have been or how we think it happened) or worrying about the future (what can be good and bad. Expectations), but you will be present in what is. This takes away pain or anxiety, by taking power away from our own interpretation of the past moments that are no more or our expectations of the future moments that don’t exist yet.
Living in the present moment will free you to explore at full what is here, right now, and from here and right now is the only moment that anyone can do something about anything!
Now, the truth is that to see the benefits you have to do it every day. It needs to become a habit. Like going to the gym or a diet
I personally believe that if you are able to understand that you will find happiness and abundance and wisdom and love and success, virtually all the time.
What do you do in those five minutes?
For the most part you will be watching your breath. That’s it. “What is that going to do for me?” you might ask. and it’s a good question. because in principle, it’s easy to think that what you are doing is sitting there and doing nothing for five minutes. Nothing further from the truth. You will actually be exercising you concentration and self-control muscles.
See, like I told you before, while you are trying to watch your breath, your mind will jump to another thought. And you will try it again, and it will happen again. It’s normal. And I bet the first few days will be a whole bunch of that. Don’t get discourage. How can you expect anything else? You are not habituated to slow down your mind. Within a few weeks you will be able to see solid results and you will be able to keep the single focus concentration for a few more breaths.
When you sit to meditate (sitting is better than laying down) make sure your back is straight and, without any effort, watch your breath. To be more specific, watch the feeling of the breath coming in and out your nostrils. Remind yourself why you are doing this. And then focus entirely on the breath for al long as you possibly can.
Your mind will wonder. At the beginning it might even wander before you finish the first breath. Don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s important to be kind with ourselves. When you realize you are wondering, gently bring your attention back to the breath. And do it again and again and again until the 5 minutes are up. Then repeat the next day, and the next one and the next one, until one day you can actually go through about 7 to 10 breaths without your mind wandering.
- Keep a log with a quick un sentence description of what it was like and the time you started and ended. It will help you understand your progress.
- If you are in a noise house use ear plugs. At the beginning distractions can be the worst enemy, because one hasn’t learned to concentrate yet. I still today, after 8 years of meditation, where ear plug when meditating in my room in Brooklyn, because I meditate in the morning rush hour and people here like their horns.
- If you are more of a visual person (I know I am) than a kinetic person, start by giving some kind of color and shape to the breath, and then use that image to go into the sensation of the breath inside the nostrils.
- Do not force the breath. Our bodies breath almost by themselves and the exercise of watching ourselves breath is about connecting with that part of us that don’t need to think.
- Try different times a day, in different locations until you figure out what works best for your lifestyle. The most important thing here is consistency, so look for the time and location that is very convenient for you. I know people who do seven minutes meditation in the bathroom right before taking a shower in the morning. That way he is less likely to miss it.
- If staying on the breath seems too repetitive, and want to really over charge your meditations and it’s results, you should use some kind of guided meditation, either through audio or video at home, or going to a local group.