man sitting in chair_posture.jpg

Easy 5 minute meditation

Meditation is technical, mechanical. You only need to get the mechanics right - that's it. Practice and repetition do everything else. 

To quote my dharma brother Max, you have two friends in meditation: you posture and your breath. Keep them close. 

Three easy steps:

  1. Sit up straight

  2. Notice your breath; relax. Follow each inhale, then each exhale.

  3. Set a timer for 5 mins (then put the phone down, and go back to your breath).

That's it. 

First: Posture.  

Key to staying present and alert for 5 (or 50) minutes is sitting up straight.

When you collapse on your spine, you not only collapse on your breath and compromise oxygen intake, you've clearly lost your attentiveness to the present moment. .

A simple tool to keep your posture: sit on the last 1/8th of the edge of the chair. To maintain balance, and not fall off, you must arch your back. Arching your back makes you open up your chest and drop your shoulders - the ultimate spinal position for meditation. 

Second: Breath. 

If you are just sitting, you are doing nothing. Nothing except breathing. So, pay attention to what you are doing: pay attention to your breath. 

Your breath is the anchor right under your nose, there for you at all times. Create the habit of using it to calm and still your mind.

Sit up straight, and notice your breath. Notice every moment of the inhale, every moment of the exhale. Over time, your breath will naturally deepen and slow down. You don't have to do anything. Let it be as it is, but notice it. Pay attention to it, as it is. 

That's it!

YOUR MIND WILL WANDER. It's your mind: that's what it's supposed to do. Don't judge it: that's another thought.

As soon as you notice you've gone off into lalaland, simply come back to the anchor under your nose: come back to the breath. 

As you build the muscle of presence and awareness, your mind will slowly settle own its own. You can't force it. But the thoughts will still. Give it time.

Third: Set a timer.

Start with 5 minutes. Silence your phone, and put it down and away. 

Doing this once in a while won't do anything. Like all muscles, you have to train it, and push it past its existing limits.

Start with 5 minutes. You can find five minutes each day.

After a week, extend it to 7 minutes. Then 10. Work your way up to 20 minutes a day.

  • Two weeks of 20 minutes a day, and GRE scores rise an average of 16 points, and mind wandering reduces significantly.

  • 8 weeks of 20 minutes each day, and the actual density of your grey matter has increased visibly (under an fMRI) in areas correlated with learning and memory.