I’m a true believer in meditation as a medicine for our mental and emotional health.
The practice of meditation has been proven to have a profound impact, emotionally and physically. It works because it releases endorphins that make us feel good; it activates the part of the brain associated with positive emotion.
Meditation doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In just 5 minutes a day you can improve your stamina, your mental health, and find peace and calm.
Here are 4 easy meditation exercises, all of which you can do in 5 minutes or less:
1. Progressive Relaxation
Also called body scan meditation, this technique involves connecting with each part of your body and releasing any tension that exists.
Easily adaptable to 5 minutes, this can be done lying down or while sitting.
Start at one end of the body and focus your mind and energy there, tense that muscle and then release. Focus your energy on releasing all tension that resides there. Some might visualize a wave or light sweeping across the area.
I like this scan method because it’s a quick effortless way to check-in with each part of your body while releasing stress and tension that builds up, sometimes without us knowing it.
2. Mindful Breathing
This exercise requires you to close your eyes, be still and focus your attention on your own breath. As you sit quietly you’ll want to focus on the inhale, then the exhale. Ideally, try to exhale for longer than you inhale. Inhale as you count to 5, exhale as you count to 7.
This is a basic method you can use anytime to deal with racing thoughts, negative emotions or stress.
Stillness and mindfulness in your daily life is a wonderful way to care for your emotional and mental health.
3. Visualization “the Beach scene”
Visualization is the method of using the mind to influence the body. This mental imagery can help you become stronger, happier, focused, confident and more effective. Visualization meditation can help calm the nervous system and improve mental health.
There are a many techniques for visualization but for this exercise we’ll use a beach scene.
Find a quiet place and comfortable position, close your eyes. You want to use your imagination to visualize yourself lying on a sandy beach, and all aspects of that beach, but not let your imagination run wild and get away from you.
Make it a point to visualize the blue skies, the sound of the waves lapping, the warmth of the sand on your toes, and the heat from the sun. Relax your eyes and inhale and exhale to let go of any tension.
If the beach doesn’t do it for you, choose a happy calm place where you feel at peace and go there.
4. Count your steps
Walking meditation is one of the most common practices in meditation. This intentional walking is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness in everyday life while also getting exercise; it’s a common practice for those that struggle with sitting still.
The easiest way to begin a meditative walking exercise is by counting your steps.
Start by walking slowly and at a natural pace; count each step as it occurs (left 1, right 2, left 3 and so forth). Pay attention to your breathing, it should be consistent with your walk.
As you walk you want to be fully present with each step, but your focus should be on the count most of all.
There is no right or wrong way to practice walking meditation; mindfulness is the key technique here and this exercise is largely beneficial for emotional health and wellness.