The word “meditation” can create different reactions in people. If you immediately shudder at the thought of sitting cross legged on a floor for hours in complete silence, there’s good news: Meditation doesn’t have to be done this way.
All it takes is five minutes, according to Sharon Hales, RYT Yoga Alliance, ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club. “Five minutes is all you need to bring positive changes to your life by simply closing your eyes and breathing,” says Hales.
What kind of positive changes? Hales explains that meditation can lead to decreased stress and anxiety; lower blood pressure; improvement in memory, concentration and focus; and the functioning of the body, including the endocrine system. (Learn more about meditation’s benefits.)
How to meditate
Before you meditate, Hales assures that “there is no right or wrong but it may take a few tries” to feel comfortable. Here are her tips if you need help getting started:
- Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and your hands in your lap in whatever way feels comfortable.
- Close your eyes; or gaze at a candle flame, the sun reflecting on water, a leaf on a tree, or anything that mesmerizes you.
- Visualize yourself accomplishing the very thing you want most. See it, feel it, breathe it. (Watch the upcoming Olympics and notice that most athletes do this before competing!)
- Try not to fidget.
- Breathe. Feel the gentle rise and fall of your chest with each breath. Think of nothing but your breath. If a thought arises, just tell it, “I’ll be with you in five minutes” and let it go.
- After five minutes, open your eyes.
Simple, right? You can do this before you start your day in the morning, during your lunch break or just after you turn off the TV at the end of the day.
“You can spend as little or as much time as you’d like, at any time of day or night,” says Hales. “Just let yourself get lost in yourself by simply meditating. Let the world around you go; it will still be there when you return. But you will be a better you, ready to face your world in the most positive way.”