5-Minute Meditation Guide
In this article:
- What Is Meditation?
- What Are the Benefits of Meditation?
- Meditation FAQs
- Ready to Get Started with Meditation?
- How to Amplify Your Mediation Practice
Close your eyes. Breathe in. You hear the noise of the city. Breathe out. Then there’s the television blaring in the other room. Your neighbor is yelling for her kids to come and eat dinner. With all this fuss, it’s no wonder you’re having a tough time trying to meditate.
Like so many stressed out and overworked adults, you’ve been trying to find ways to release the anxiety and worry in your life. Ads for meditation apps keep showing up in your social media feed. Your friends mention how they meditate once a day and suggest you try it. You finally decide to give it a shot. You light candles and sit on the floor with your legs crossed, but can’t seem to tap into your Zen.
I’m here to tell you that you’re going to be okay. No matter what you’re going through or how hard it may be to do it now, you too can meditate. You don’t have to take an Eat, Pray, Love trip to India and stay in an ashram to do it unless you really want to. Honestly, you can achieve that same peace and tranquility in your humble home in the middle of chaos. It just takes practice.
The history of meditation goes back thousands of years. You can find evidence of throughout Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and many other religions. Meditation is an ancient tradition that spans cultures and backgrounds. It can be religious, spiritual, and very personal.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, meditation is a practice to help one find calm and clarity. It can help you destress by sifting through all the clutter and noise in your mind to zero in on one thing. Truthfully, it’s a challenge to clear our minds, but we can focus our energy on a singular thought.
First, let me say that I’m not a doctor. I have not conducted extensive studies on the benefits of meditation, but I can tell you what I have experienced for myself not only as someone who meditates but someone who is a meditation practitioner.
Meditation is literally a game-changer. It can help reduce stress. Meditation aids in improving attention and focus which can also enhance self-awareness. You’ve heard the term mindfulness. Boom! Having trouble sleeping? Try meditating. Oh, did I mention it can help lower blood pressure? The list goes on. Bottom line: meditation can improve your overall well-being.
Do You Have to Burn Incense and Chant to Meditate?
You can if you like. Chanting and incense are parts of different kinds of meditation. Do whatever helps you in your meditation practice. Explore.
Must I Sit Cross-Legged With My Eyes Closed?
Once again, not unless you want to. In fact, you can meditate sitting, standing up, or lying down. I will even meditate in the middle of the day while parked at my desk. You can close your eyes. You can even keep them open with a soft focus on one object. The point is that you should be comfortable and your body balanced. Relax every part of yourself.
How Often Should I Meditate and When?
Start meditating a few minutes a day and see how you feel. You can do it in the morning when you wake up or before going to sleep. The thing is, you should carve out a time when you can do it consistently. Build the habit and then the habit becomes a ritual. Eventually, you’ll be able to meditate for longer periods.
What if I’m Too Old, Too This, or Too That to Start Meditating?
Have grace for yourself. There is no age requirement or previous experiences necessary to meditate. Anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone, can do it.
What if I Lose Focus?
Breathe and begin again. It’s normal to go in and out of focus. Observe your thoughts then let them wash over you like a wave. Do not judge your thoughts. This technique is adopted from Buddhism or Zen meditation and is often used in mindfulness practices.
Decide when’s the best time for you to meditate. I find that it's easier to meditate in the morning right as I’m waking or at night just before bedtime. These are the moments when the world is still quiet and my thoughts are, too. Make sure you are alone and don’t have little people, little animals, and big humans to interrupt you. The more distractions you can cut out of your environment the better. If you have your smartphone nearby, set a timer for five minutes, preferably with a nice chiming tone. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. You can close your eyes or softly focus on one object in your immediate view.
Begin by taking a few normal breaths. Pay attention to your chest expanding and deflating. When you feel ready, breath deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. After a few of these, you can return to your normal breathing pattern. Allow the sound of your own breath to be the current that guides you through this meditation.
If you get distracted by a sound outside of your own body, it’s okay. Your mind may wander but gently invite it back by focusing on your breath. If you get an urge to scratch an itch or reach for your phone to see if the time is up, remain still. These are simply thoughts, and these thoughts do not dictate what you should or shouldn’t do. Choose to focus on your breathing. Choose stillness.
Before you know it, your five minutes are up. Gradually come back into your room. Wiggle your fingers. Roll your ankles. Give thanks for the experience. You did it! A good friend of mine says that even if you meditated for a few seconds, you did it. Celebrate that and keep going. Remember it’s about practice, and not practice to be perfect—just practice. Everything we do doesn’t have to be goal-oriented or a competition. You don’t have to challenge yourself to do better next time. You meditate because you genuinely want to.
This is totally up to you and feel free to try whatever feels right. You can carve out a special place within your home to meditate. Maybe it’s a corner or an open area free of clutter. Let this be your sacred quiet space. Find calming scents to help you slip into your meditation practice.
I like to add a few drops of an essential oil like eucalyptus or sweet orange to my palms, rub my hands together, and then breathe in the aroma right before I close my eyes to meditate. You can also try rubbing peppermint oil on your temples. Perhaps candles are more your cup of tea. I like scents that are not too loud or distracting but refreshing like orange and lemongrass.
Or you can go old school with classic Nag Champa incense.
Creating your own mediation practice is golden. The more you do it, the more your mind will be able to find peace. I can say that meditation has helped bring me through some tough times when I couldn’t see through the fog my own thoughts and emotions. When you meditate, you are giving yourself permission to breathe easier and truly find that clarity within you.