The Gift of Practicing Only 5 Minutes a Day
What mindfulness can do is remarkable. You don’t need anything special to start and you don’t need a lot of time. Five minutes a day is enough to make a difference. There’s no chanting, “Om’s” or awkward poses, unless you want to, then go for it. For those who think it’s all too strange, it’s basically just sitting, breathing and observing – nothing strange about that.
Mindfulness: What Is It?
Mindfulness, once to be considered only a ritual for Buddhists, is the practice of observing thoughts, feelings and sensations with the indifference of an objective bystander.
The need to judge our thoughts are replaced by “just noticing”, which can be easier said than done. The reality is that our attention is very easily drawn away from the present. We worry about what happened yesterday at work, what’s happening tomorrow at home, whether the oven was turned off in the kitchen on or what’s the plan for the weekend. It’s this tendency to be drawn into the past or the future that lies at the core of so much of our daily worries…..creating unnecessary anxiety.
Does This Stuff Really Work?
The changes that stem from mindfulness are not just because people relax. Mindfulness has been found to cause measurable physical changes in the body and the brain. By practicing mindfulness – five minutes daily, is enough to make a difference – you can actually change your brain. Research has shown a decrease in gray matter in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with anxiety and stress….THIS IS GREAT NEWS!
According to Harvard , mindfulness also has been known to:
- decrease stress;
- relieve depression;
- relieve anxiety;
- lower blood pressure;
- improve chronic pain
- improve sleep;
- ability to form deeper connections with others.
So…How Do I Get Started?
There is no time like the present to give it a try….what is 5 little minutes out of your very busy day? Although mindfulness might take a bit of practice, you get to begin this process at your own pace. At first you might find it hard to stop your mind from wandering. It’s completely normal and don’t judge yourself…..JUST NOTICE! It’s what minds do naturally and we have to re-train our brain, one minute at a time.
When you give your mind the opportunity to unwind – it’s going to unwind. There will be thoughts, feelings and things you didn’t even know were there. If it gets a bit much, your mind will go for a wander. Just bring it gently back to the moment – observe what you’re feeling and thinking – and don’t judge….JUST NOTICE. Let it be. It’s all part of it and you’ll notice that the more you do it, the more you’ll be able to stay in the moment.
Ready, Set, Breathe…..Let’s Go…..
- Find a quiet, peaceful, calm place to set yourself down into (remember it’s just 5 minutes)
- Set a peaceful alarm before you start your practice, (maybe on your phone) so you don’t get distracted thinking about when you should stop.
If you can, try for one 5 minute practice in the morning and once again at night, that would be a great start. If you’re busy, don’t worry, anything you can do will make a difference. Remember, don’t judge…JUST NOTICE. It really doesn’t matter how much time you spend on your mindfulness practice. What matters is that you do something to calm your mind.
- Think about how you want to position yourself for these 5 minutes. The main thing is that you are supported, balanced and comfortable – but not too comfortable – you don’t want to fall asleep. You can be in a chair with your feet on the floor, kneeling, sitting with loosely crossed your legs – up to you.
- Now that you are comfortable, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of the air and follow it as it goes in and out of your body. Take a deep breath in….hold it for a count of 5…..breathe out through your nose as you count another 5 seconds. Do this 5 times. When your mind strays, come back to this point. Observe your thoughts, feelings or sensations. Don’t’ judge yourself…JUST NOTICE. You don’t have to do anything with it. You can expect that your mind will wander to something other than the present moment – what’s for breakfast, the review you have to get done for work, , the conversation with your mom from yesterday. When that happens, gently come back to your breathing. Don’t try to change anything. Just come back to the moment.
With mindfulness, the more you practice the easier it will get. It’s a bit like cleaning out the garage, or spring cleaning the bedrooms. It might get messier before you get to the calm. There’ll be issues arising that you knew about and some you didn’t even know were there. That’s the way it’s meant to happen. JUST NOTICE them and let them go. Then, come back to being in the moment and allow yourself to be grateful for your abundant life!!!