What’s today’s suggestion?
When you get up this morning or tomorrow, or when you get home this afternoon, pick up your pillow and a timer, head to a quiet part of the house where you won’t be interrupted, and get comfortable. Cop a squat on your pillow, however you’re comfortable, relax your gaze, and just be quiet and still for five minutes. If you are distracted, or your mind is racing with the details of your day ahead, try focusing on your breath: breathing in and out, feeling the sensation of the air in your nostrils. If you still can’t calm the thoughts in your head, try seeing them as thought bubbles, and then visualize imaginary fingers plucking them out of your thoughts, setting them aside for now, until everything is still, again. When your timer rings that the five minutes is up, take a moment to yourself, then move about your day.
Why try it?
For many of us, five minutes of uninterrupted “me” time in the average day may seem like an impossible feat to achieve. It’s not impossible. You can make five minutes for yourself, even if you choose to spend the time sitting still and quietly alone. If you are able to quiet your mind even once during your five minute session, then you just might be able to do so the next time you need to, to focus on work, or a conversation with a loved one, or a creative pursuit.
What’s the risk?
There’s no known risk of short periods of meditation, among healthy people, so meditate away!
What’s the benefit of making it a habit?
Over time, meditation has a host of benefits.
In 2011, researchers from the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that daily meditation-like thought could shift frontal brain activity toward a pattern that is associated with what cognitive scientists call positive, approach-oriented emotional states — states that make us more likely to engage the world rather than to withdraw from it.
– The Power of Concentration, by Maria Konnikova in the New York Times
In that study, changes in the brain were observed even when meditation averaged only five to 16 minutes per day. Regular meditation may affect parts of the brain that are important for learning and memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Meditation may lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, and improve your ability to concentrate.
From a more behavioral perspective, I find that regular meditation (even if the periods are short) helps me be more present — to focus more on the here and now, and worry less about the future or past. Meditation helps me develop the ability to quiet the cacophony of thoughts in my head when I need to; fine tuning my ability to pay attention to what I want and need to pay attention to, and to let the rest go.
So this morning, start by meditating for five minutes, and then tell me about it! Please chime in, in the comments!