How to Improve Your Mental State Through Just 5 Minutes of Meditation
Imagine having a peaceful state of mind every day. Just sit with that thought for a second. Sound good?
Now, what if I told you that peace of mind is possible with consistency and discipline, and without much time? It is amazing how adding just five minutes of meditation can bring you back to center. Meditation has been practiced by monks, yogis, and sages for thousands of years. Yes, the monks, yogis, and sages were most likely meditating for longer than five minutes, but by starting with a short amount of time you’ll find far fewer excuses as to why you can’t meditate. Everyone can carve out five minutes in a day.
Start with five minutes of daily meditation to establish a routine. For the most benefit, add a few minutes each day until you reach at least twelve minutes. When meditation becomes habitual, you may find yourself craving these longer amounts of time. However, if five minutes is all the time you have each day, then stick with that. It is more beneficial to do five minutes daily than longer amounts of time occasionally.
The Physiology of Meditation
Swami Satyananda Saraswati founded the Bihar School of Yoga, which is an ashram and university in India. The Bihar school researches the mental and scientific effects of yoga and meditation as well as teaching all aspects and branches of yoga. In Swami Satyananda’s book Meditations from the Tantras it outlines some of the physiological benefits. Physiologically, meditation has been linked to lowering blood pressure and heart rate. During meditation functions of the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates our fight-or-flight response, are decreased. Therefore, the constriction of the blood vessels is reduced allowing for greater blood flow. During meditation, the increased flow of blood delivers more oxygen to the muscles and lactate is more quickly and effectively removed. This is important as high levels of lactate have been linked to anxiety, neuroses, and tension.
The Psychology of Meditation
Psychologists now believe meditation can counteract depression and anxiety. Biofeedback techniques measure and monitor the electrical waves emitted from the brain. The wave patterns are detected by an electroencephalograph (EEG) by means of electrodes placed on the scalp. Alpha waves are emitted during relaxation and mild forms of meditation.
During the alpha wave state the rational mind is inactive allowing intuition to become heightened. This is not an unconscious state, but rather a state of sharp awareness and focus. Most people in our society operate using the rational mind and rarely tap into the intuitive portions of the brain. Through meditation a balance of the rational and intuitive knowing is possible. People like Einstein, Michelangelo, and Freud were able to tap into parts of the brain that are not usually accessible, therefore balancing the brain halves. You can tap into the subconscious and unconscious minds, too, with practice and consistency.
A Five-Minute Meditation
The following meditation may be practiced first thing in the morning, the middle of the day, before bed, or any time you are not feeling like yourself. It is versatile and extremely effective when done daily. You may set a timer or sit in meditation as long as you’d like.
This specific meditation is designed to help you excrete energy that is not allowing you to feel vibrant and joyful. It will allow you to feel a sense of protection from negativity coming at you from others. With regular practice, you will feel compassionate, yet stable detachment from drama.
Meditation for clearing and protecting your energy:
- Sit comfortably in a chair with the legs uncrossed and both feet touching the ground, or sit on the ground in a cross-legged position with a tall spine.
- Close your eyes and breathe in and out through the nose.
- Mentally or physically brush out any old energy or fatigue down the arms, torso, and legs. This is symbolic of “brushing it off” and letting go.
- Visualize the whole body surrounded by a vibrant light, any color works.
- Visualize the light entering in the crown of the head and traveling down the body. Spend time to see the light nourishing the brain cells, healing the organs, and traveling all the way to the fingers and toes.
- Bring awareness back to the bubble of light surrounding the body. This is a protective bubble that will not allow negative comments or energy to penetrate.
- Stay here as long as it feels appropriate.
- Bring awareness back to the breathing and deepen the breath.
- When you are ready, gently blink the eyes open. It is important not to rush out of the meditative state.
1. Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Meditations from the Tantras (India: Yoga Publications Trust, 2008)
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Topic: Mind & Body