How to learn to meditate AND how 5 minutes a day is enough
Do you meditate?
Meditation has been proven to help many things, and one of the consistent common threads cited amongst successful people. However, I am personally daunted by the average quantity of time people report spending in meditation, and thus I have frequently decided to avoid it altogether. 20-30 minutes just sounds like a lot of time, especially on mornings when I have to get up at 4am.
I know it is important, but how do you fit this in? I like to say running is my moving meditation, and when I run I will list off my “gratefuls”…I am grateful for the ability to run, I am grateful for this neighborhood, I am grateful for this clean air to breathe, etc etc. In some ways this is the same idea, and better than nothing, but I think stillness is a part of the equation.
A friend’s solution
One girlfriend of mine has a brilliant solution.
Earlier this month I was invited to a ladies happy hour at my dear friend and former neighbor Ali’s house. Right as I was getting ready to leave she told me how she likes to tell people when they have an impact on her life, and in this case it was the introduction to the roller.
I assumed it was going to be a shoulder-related story, which is what we had worked on, but instead she told me that an unintended consequence of being introduced to the roller was that she had found a way to meditate. “Really”? I said, wondering how this had unfolded. So I asked her to share her story via five quick questions.
Laura: What methods of meditation did you try before finding success with the roller? Why did you find yourself unable to stick with them?
Ali: I read about meditation and watched some videos. I tried sitting in a chair and I tried laying down. It was always very difficult for me to sit still. It was frustrating and I felt unsuccessful. Then I just gave up trying for quite a while.
Laura: Did the meditation on the roller happen by accident -or- How did you discover that you’d finally stumbled upon a situation that worked for you?
Ali: After I met with you I bought a long roller and was following the directions you gave me to lay on it and stretch my shoulders & to do the exercises as well.
I started using it in this way to just lay on it and stretch. Then the idea just came to me to try a meditation on it. It worked fantastically well. I felt calm with just enough alertness by staying balanced on the roller. I continue to experiment and it continued to be the perfect mixture of relaxing and being present to my body.
Laura: How is your day different when you meditate? What happens when you don’t?
Ali: My day is different when I forget to meditate. I feel less calm and able to handle situations that pop up. When I meditate in the morning I feel like I can be there for others because I’ve already taken care of my own needs.
Laura: Describe exactly what you do to set up those precious five minutes.
Do you eat first? Pack your lunch and get totally ready for the day? Workout before or after? Light candles? Set a gong timer? Get up before the family? Etc etc 🙂
Ali: I get up and eat breakfast and get dressed so I’m basically ready for work before I meditate. If I do it too soon after I wake up I fall back asleep. I set a timer on my phone so that I can totally relax into the space without thinking about time.
I have experimented with ocean noise in the background when I am extra stressed. I have found this to be helpful. My husband has already left for work before I am up. It’s important for me to have a room where I can be alone to do this. When I lie with the roller in alignment with my spine, I put my forearms and palms on the floor and bend my legs so my feet are flat on the floor. This position feels grounding to me.
Laura: Any other advice for the novice, or unsuccessful meditation person?
Ali: As a coach and educator I know that it’s essential to start in a way that the learner can be successful on the first try. I started with three minutes. When you start small and you are able to be successful it gives you energy to do it again.
In the past I was instructed to meditate for 30 minutes and that was a set up for failure for me. My advice to anyone who has struggled with the same situation is to start small -even one minute -if that’s where you need to begin.
There you have it- build on one minute.
That is where I am going to start! Give your shoulders and upper back some roller love at the same time, and voila, you have killed two birds with one stone.
Thank you, Ali!