Do you have a few minutes?

Happy February! To those of you who live in northern climates, we are three fifths through the winter, mas o menos.

Somehow when we get to February I always feel a surge of optimism. Spring is not so far away now, and those of us who get a little “cabin fever” this time of the year start noticing more light in the evenings.

Last February I started a habit of daily meditation. I had been meditating before that, and developing some consistency. But last year, I fully committed to a minimum of 5 minutes per day. It was a do-able goal, and I count my yoga sessions as part of my practice, so with 3 classes a week, that made the goal easier as well. This weekend I will celebrate an entire year consecutive days of meditation.

It has changed my life, particularly since I have struggled in the past with a.d.d. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and become less reactive to the “bouncing” thoughts. I can observe them and not follow them. I notice when I am caught in a story that I am spinning, and start to question whether that is even true. I hold less judgment about my mind, and more curiosity.

To those who have been thinking about starting a practice, I encourage you to start small. Literally commit to only 2 minutes the first time, focus on your breathing. It may not be easy at first! But then add a minute a day, and see how this changes the quality of your days overall. It may take a few weeks before you really start to notice benefits, so give it at least 30 days.

People used to tell me I needed to have at least 15 minutes for it. That was a big barrier. I simply could not imagine how I would fit that in every day. Now I average a lot more than that. But if I only fit in 5 minutes in the morning, and then get 10 minutes on a lunch hour, I still do it. It is not always easy, and sometimes I feel “too restless” to want to do it. But those are the times I am most likely to benefit, I now realize.

Last fall I read Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body (Goleman and Davidson). For a clinical researcher like me, I loved learning about experiments, past and present to demonstrate the value of meditation. The authors actually critique some of their early studies, the bias and the lack of proper controls. They review the field and conclude that yes, even with some flawed studies in the beginning, reliable science is beginning to emerge on the benefits of meditation.

If the idea of silent meditation is not your cup of tea, there are many guided meditations available at the Insight Timer app that I use. Jon Kabat Zinn has a book called Mindfulness for Beginners with some guided meditations that I really like also. Another resource that was great for me about 2 years ago when I first wanted to commit to practice was Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.

For those of you who have a regular practice, I would love to hear how you got started. As I like to say about sleep, doing more of it is like a super-power! If only I had known when I was younger. But I know now. So I will continue to encourage people to try it, and see what works for them.

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Do you have a few minutes?

  1. Julie de Rohan

    I’m so glad you shared this. I envy you your meditation practice and am definitely going to follow your suggestion of starting with 2 minutes a day. That way, I hope I can develop it and calm my often very busy mind. Happy February to you too!

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  2. FindMoreMeaning

    I’ve never been able to quiet my mind enough to do any sort of meditation. I realize this means I would benefit from it the most. Like you, I was never willing to commit to 15 minutes of sitting in silence. That just sounds like torture for me. But recently I’ve been thinking about trying again, and it sounds like it would really help. Thank you for the kick in the pants.

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    1. meximinnesotana Post author

      Oh, my mind is not a quiet place, believe me. That becomes apparent when I meditate. But when I become aware of my thoughts, and realize with curiosity how much is going on in there, but that it is not “reality,” it is just my thoughts, there is a tremendous sense of peace and freedom. For me, it has radically altered how I show up in the world and how much more present I can be with my loved ones. And 5 minutes a day may not sounds like much, but after you do it for a while, if you skip a day, you realize how much you miss that peace.

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  3. Ry Summers

    I’ve wanted to start meditating for a long time, but for some reason I’m afraid I’ll lose my cynical edge. Although, I can admit I need to do something to quiet my thoughts. It’s a friggin’ jungle in there. Great post, and lots to think over. :))

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    1. meximinnesotana Post author

      Ry, thanks for commenting. You won’t lose your cynical edge if you’re really committed to keeping it. 😉
      Really this will benefit you more than you even know. This world is a mess right now, and sometimes that really messes with my head. What meditation has helped me see is that by gaining mastery over my thoughts and emotions I have been able to “get over myself” to some degree. I realize I am not limited by those thoughts, and I can make a greater difference in nurturing myself and my own spirit in this way. Maybe that’s kind of woo-woo, but I seriously doubt you would regret trying it for a while. And if you are not ready, no worries. It look me over a decade when I gave up in frustration after the first couple of times I tried. It’s all good.

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      1. Ry Summers

        I am very committed to remaining cynical. It helps keep a good amount of surprise in my life. Though, I really need to be able to just put myself in that zone. Your word isn’t woo-woo. I’ve heard tell plenty of positives about the act of meditation, and it seems there’s a wealth of science to back up some claims. Hey, I appreciate the encouragement. 🙂

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  4. joem18b

    I work with a woman who mediates for a brief time each morning before coming in. She uses a YouTube video that focuses on breathing. I’ve just asked her to send me a link to the video.

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  5. Pingback: Awe and beauty | mexi minnesotana

  6. Heather Tasker

    A few years ago, I got meditation out of my ashtanga yoga practice. Since then, I’ve suffered a few major injuries and developed fibromyalgia so that level of practice isn’t currently possible. The more I’m learning about fibromyalgia, the more I realize how the body cycles out of control and dysfunction feeds dysfunction. One of the best tools there is for calming down a haywire nervous system? Meditation.

    I’ve already made a pledge to do it “more” but reading your post, and seeing how small goals can grow, I plan to set a minimum goal for each day. I’m thinking 2 minutes morning and night (though once I do them, they’ll certainly be longer) and eventually some period of time before or after taking medication for pain.

    The tension and anxiety pain causes cause so much more pain! I think small, regular implementation will help a lot.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration!

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    1. meximinnesotana Post author

      Heather, I am sorry that you are struggling with fibromyalgia. You are right, meditation is amazing for calming our nervous system. I was grateful recently that I had stuck with it, even a small amount, to deal with anxiety and a.d.d. Now that I realize even a small amount can help me, and more helps me even more, there are more reasons to practice. The challenge of yoga is of course the physical one. But real yoga comes from the word “yoke” which is what connects the breath to the body. Sitting and breathing is the simplest form of yoga, and it is a beautiful thing. Thanks for your comments!

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