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November 6, 2019

Meditation…It Only Takes a Minute

Meditation has so many benefits: from stress relief and easing pain to boosting your immunity. But to get those benefits, you must do it.

Often, we make things trickier or more complicated than they need to be. And when we do this, we usually find a way to talk ourselves out of whatever that “thing” is. We adopt an all-or-nothing attitude, deciding that if we don’t have 30 or 60 minutes to go for a run, practice yoga, or sit in meditation, well then, we just don’t have time to do it at all. For all these things (and others as well), it only takes a minute to get started so you can begin to reap the benefits.

One option is to create a trigger for yourself. It could be as simple as setting an alarm on your smartphone for a predetermined time in the day. When the alarm goes off, pause and focus on your breath for one minute. How does your breath feel? Are you aware of anything else in your body? Are you feeling stressed, anxious, happy, warm, cold, etc.? When the minute is up, you go back to what you were doing. It’s that simple. You can set the alarm for multiple times in the day if you’d like.

Another option is to use an event as a trigger. An example would be brushing your teeth. After you brush your teeth at night, you might choose to sit on your bed or on the floor, maybe even closing your eyes. Go back to your breath. How does it feel after the day that you had? What are you aware of? What are you grateful for in your day?

Gradually, once you become comfortable with this, you can increase this to two minutes and so on—but only if that works for you. You’ll get far more out of giving yourself short meditation breaks on a daily basis (or every other day) than giving yourself one long meditation once a month.

In addition to sitting in silence, there are many guided meditations that you can use. You can find them on YouTube or download a meditation app. One of my favorites is Insight Timer, which has a free version and a paid one. They have meditations starting at just one minute. They have meditations to help you sleep better, deal with stress or illness, or just relax. You can listen to music or the sound or rain, whatever works for you in that moment.

Another obstacle that prevents some people from meditating is the myth that you need to stop thinking to meditate. Meditation isn’t about stopping your thoughts; it’s about being with your thoughts and just allowing them to be. Some people like to focus on an object, such as a candle or a picture. I often recommend focusing on inhaling and exhaling to anchor your mind to the present moment. You can try saying to yourself, “breathing in” on the inhales and “breathing out” on the exhales. If the mind starts to get distracted, and you catch yourself thinking of something else, acknowledge the thought, and then invite your mind right back to the breath–even if you have to do that every few seconds.

Finally, please remember that you don’t need to make meditation “fancy.” You don’t “need” any certain items to meditate. However, you might find that having your certain place to meditate makes you feel more comfortable and at ease. You might choose a special cushion or chair. You might discover that you prefer lying down (at least occasionally) to sitting; or you might find that walking in nature is what sparks meditation for you. The truth is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.

All you need to do is to do it.