It’ll change your life! Meditation has gone from fringe to the boardroom and is a modern-day health movement. Tim Ferris, author of the book, The 4-Hour Workweek, and award winning business innovator, interviewed 140 of the world’s top performers and elite athletes and found that 80% practice some form of daily meditation and mindfulness routine. “Mindfulness” (a type of meditation) experts say, has been proven to manage emotions (your brain releases happy chemicals), lower blood pressure, reduce pain, sleep better and help you gain clarity and focus to proactively design your day and your life.
Gratitude, which is an important component of practicing mindfulness meditation has been proven to calm down the nervous system and rewire the fight-or-flight stress response – ultimately helping you become more resilient. Robert Emmons, author of Gratitude Works, and the pioneer of gratitude research, found that when subjects wrote down one thing for which they were grateful every day, reported being 25% happier for a full six months after following the practice in just three weeks.
Before you roll your eyes, consider this: a study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, reported that the practice of mindfulness can reduce anxiety levels by up to 22%. There is also ample research and exciting scientific claims, that meditation can actually form new and permanent brain neural pathways.
Yet, with all the latest science research and in-trend buzz, for most people, committing to a daily meditation practice can be daunting. “The fear of not doing it right, and confidence to commit”, says Dr. Alison Danby ND., is often the barrier to even start. Dr. Danby, one of Well Street’s top mindfulness and stress reduction corporate facilitators, reminds her clients, it’s a lifetime practice, and what works some days may not work other days. The key, says Dr. Danby, is to carve out 5 minutes a day, and have a few “go-to” foundational tools to work from – posture, abdominal breathing, visualization, personal daily mantras, gratitude journaling, to name a few. Over time you can train your brain to be more present and focused for a greater sense of fulfillment and a host of health benefits. “Anyone can do it” says Danby, and the more consistent you are, the easier it will become.
The Five Minute Meditation Routine:
Start with Posture
Sit in a chair, rest your hands on the tops of your thighs, with your legs hip distance apart and your feet flat on the ground. You can either open or close your eyes, if your eyes are open, allow your gaze to rest on an object.
Note: Observe your feet on the floor; how do they feel?
1 Minute: Abdominal Breathing
Once you have the right posture, place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest. As you inhale, feel your belly expand and your hand rise to ensure that you are breathing into the base of the lungs, and not just the upper lungs.
Note: Once you know what it feels like to breathe from your abdomen, you can start to deepen and slow your breath even more.
Take long, slow, deep breaths in through your nose, inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 6.
2 Minute: Find Your Own Pace
Stop counting now and allow your breathing to fall into an easy steady rhythm. Stay tuned to the rising and falling of your abdominal breathing.
Tip: Pay attention to what your breath is like, overly shallow or deep (often we take short breaths in the day which deprives us of oxygen and lowers our energy).
3 Minute: Staying Focused
It’s perfectly natural for your mind to wander and the goal here is to be aware of these random thoughts (worries, to do lists) and to not push them aside or linger on them. Rather, gently acknowledge them and allow them to drift, visualizing your thoughts as a cloud passing by.
Tip: Don’t judge yourself, focusing can be hard. Meditation is a practice and it takes time. Visualization techniques such as these, you acknowledge your worries without responding emotionally, and the more consistently you do it the easier it will become.
4 Minute: Relax
Start to release your focus on your breathing and sit still for a few moments, gently reminding yourself that there is nothing you can do or change – and be perfectly still in this moment.
5 Minute: Harness Your Gratitude
Think about one or two things you are grateful for, such as your family, friends, your curious mind, whatever it is (writing it down can help to visualize your feelings of thanks). Take note of how you physically feel; the steadiness of your heart-beat and your more relaxed muscles. Now stand up, enjoy the moment and get ready to tackle the day with a more peaceful presence.
Tip: Carry a gratitude journal with you. Studies show that writing something of thanks down daily, intensifies what you are grateful for and increases happiness.
Well Street helps organizations take a proactive approach to total well–being in the workplace. Don’t wait to react; instead companies can integrate health and wellness prevention strategies to empower wellness and drive employee engagement and happiness. Contact us today to learn more about action–based total well–being programs to build Healthy Stress, Resiliency and Mindfulness