When people are first starting to meditate, or are trying to get into the habit of meditating regularly, I suggest meditating for five minutes, twice a day.
There are many reasons for this. First and most importantly, it beats all the excuses your mind has for not meditating: I don't have time, there's so much I have to be doing, I can't just sit and think about nothing.... Most everyone can spare 5 minutes! Five minutes in the morning before getting out of bed, and five minutes in the evening, before going to sleep. Or try five minutes once you sit down at the computer before going online and checking email. Set a timer, close your eyes, and just notice your breath.
For people who wonder if five minutes is too short of a time to meditate, or get any benefit: try it. You'll find it's not such a short time after all, especially if you're new to meditation! Five minutes is plenty of time, especially because all we really have is this moment. In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle says, "Even if you meditated on your breathing for two hours or more, which some people do, one breath is all you ever need to be aware of, indeed can ever be aware of."
When I sit to meditate, my mind often does things like, "Oh, you need to clean the cat litter! It has to be done NOW!" to try to trick me into getting up. But almost everything can wait for five minutes. And then miraculously, once five minutes is up, changing the cat litter - or whatever it is - suddenly isn't so important. We start to notice things like that, things our mind does to try to keep itself front and center. And the more often we meditate (not the longer, but the more often) the more we get the hang of the tricks our mind has. Doing five minute meditations is an excellent way of making meditation a daily habit.
When should I go longer? When and if you feel like it. You'll know. There will probably come a day when you will feel so good and peaceful meditating that you'll naturally want to set your timer for another ten minutes, fifteen minutes, or not at all. And if that day doesn't come, that's ok, too. Just keep going with five minutes and even after just one week of doing this every day, I am confident you will notice changes in the way your life unfolds.
Things you may notice are:
- not getting frustrated when waiting in line. Instead you'll naturally take the time to do a five minute meditation!
- When you find yourself stressed you may naturally know to come in to your breath to help yourself relax.
- you may find yourself rising earlier and having more energy throughout the day
- you may find you fall asleep easier, and sleep better during the night
- you will become much more aware of the thoughts you think. Becoming aware of our thoughts, and then choosing what we wish to think, is the key to changing our life.
- you will become much more familiar with the workings of your mind
- answers to questions or problems may pop into your head during the day
- you may find yourself inspired to do....who knows?!
Doesn't that sound great? And it only takes five minutes.
Birch Center for Health