It was circa 2007 and as I crossed the US-border the customs officer asked me what I did for work (your typical routine question)
When I told him yoga teacher, he proceeded to ask in the same monotone and slightly stern voice “Is it true that to be a Yoga Zen Master you have to meditate for 5 hours a day?”
I was slightly taken aback by his unexpected raw humor, and answered as honestly and straightforward as possible “….um, I don’t really know” He finally cracked a small smile and passed me through.
It was the funniest remark I’ve ever received from a Customs Officer but that day actually changed my life (Thank You US border patrol!)
It changed my life because it really got me thinking. Although I was teaching yoga, I didn’t have a meditation practice apart from my yoga practice and I took that remark as my sign to get started.
I’ve been meditating ever since, and have found the benefits to be beyond what I could have dreamed of. However the process of meditation isn’t always easy or fun, and today I’m sharing how you can start meditating and experience the benefits from 5 minutes a day.
Now, you’d think a yoga teacher would have no problem meditating, but I’ll tell you – a yoga teacher is just another human – with a mind as busy as the next person.
If you don’t consciously train the muscle of your mind to quiet down, meditation isn’t going to be easy.
The ability to meditate is a muscle and it takes daily practice for this muscle to grow.
In fact, even if you go on a weekend or 10-day meditation retreat, if you come back to your regular routine and stop meditating, you will lose the benefits of meditation.
It’s like any exercise on the planet—you can’t go to the gym once and be fit for life. You need to exercise daily for optimal health. And just like physical exercise – some days will be gentler than others, and when you’re first starting out you may exercise just 3 days a week. But this consistency is necessary for your stamina to grow and to gain the health benefits of exercise.
The same is true of meditation. Meditation is how we exercise our minds.
You see, our minds like to be busy. Our mind is a gift, and it’s necessary – it helps us accomplish tasks, write up reports, and figure out math equations. Our minds can also be disruptive, causing us stress, lack of focus, and even wreak havoc on our emotional state.
The good news is we have power over our minds, and we can train our minds to be calmer and less reactive to outside circumstances. The way we train our mind is through the practice of meditation.
Now, here is the most important part of this article: It’s impossible to meditate wrong, and 5-minutes will make a difference.
The biggest objection I hear about meditation is “I don’t know how” or “I think I’m doing it wrong because I can’t stop thinking” or “I don’t have time.”
Well, there is no secret to meditation—it’s as natural as breathing, and you have everything you need to do it now.
Set an alarm for 5 minutes. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus your attention on your natural breath. By focusing your attention on your breath you help quiet your mind of other thoughts. This helps you develop a present-state of being since your breath is something that is happening at the moment.
Since our minds like to be busy, it’s natural for your mind to drift, get distracted and start thinking again within a second.
This is where the exercise comes into play: The moment you catch yourself drifting into thought—cut the thought and immediately return your focus to your breath.
Basically, the moment you catch yourself thinking you take that as your signal to return your focus to your breath. This is how you strengthen your mediation muscles which strengthen your ability to focus and clear your mind.
And all you need is 5 minutes every morning to gain immense benefits:
• You will gain a newfound appreciation of your ability to control your thoughts. You will begin to recognize that you don’t have to believe every thought that swoops in, and you don’t have to keep feeding the thoughts your attention and energy.
• Once you recognize this it helps reduce stress. Most stress begins in the mind. By strengthening your awareness muscles, you will start to notice the stressful thoughts as they appear. Since you have the power to shift your attention away from the stressful thought and onto your breath you will diminish the impact that stressful thoughts have on you. Instead of getting consumed by the thought – you will consciously choose to vanquish the thought by shifting your attention to the present moment.
• The more you practice meditation, the more the muscle grows, and over time you will find yourself enjoying the practice more and even expanding how long you spend meditating. Your mental stamina will strengthen, and you will find yourself with a greater ability to focus throughout the day.
• Another benefit that awakens over time is more clarity. When we operate with more clarity, we’re more efficient with our time. Meditation helps to clear out the mental-chatter, and you’ll find yourself making better decisions in how to spend your precious time.
With continued practice, you will find that a simple 5-minute meditation will give you more clarity, confidence, peace, sense of calm and greater self-awareness. You’ll find yourself making better decisions and feeling better about the choices you make since they’ll be coming from a calm and grounded place versus a chaotic stressed out state.
Now, don’t take my word for it—take the 7-day challenge. For the next 7 days set a 5-minute alarm and meditate for 5 minutes every morning. Meditation must be experienced to obtain its benefits. It’s just like physical exercise – you can’t get fit by looking at a Fitness Magazine, you actually have to get moving!
Tova Payne Bio:
Tova’s an Author and Business Coach helping soulful entrepreneurs clarify their niche, create remarkable online courses, and host retreats with her signature program: Build Your Own Retreat. For a Free E-Guide on 5 Keys to Starting and Finishing Your Dream Project Sign Up at www.tovapayne.com.
Connect with Tova on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TovaPayneEmpoweredLiving
And on Twitter: @TovaPayne