Abi Carver's 5-Minute Guided Meditation Practice
Posted on 20 September 2016
Meditation suffers from a problem with branding. It’s not clear exactly how you do it or even why you’d want to. I’m going to try to clarify this ancient practice and guide you in a 5-minute meditation, so that you can start to experience the profound benefits in your own life.
My Meditation Mistakes
I was first introduced to meditation during my Yoga Teacher Training Course in Guatemala 4 years ago, and it’s been a bumpy road ever since. I was thrown off course by some common misconceptions that derail a lot of people.
1. Meditation is a spiritual practice.
For many people it undoubtedly is, but there are so many other benefits of mindfulness, if spirituality is not your thing. It’s great for improving focus and concentration, increasing self-control and emotional stability, reducing stress and anxiety, promoting deeper and more restorative sleep, and boosting feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
2. Meditation is for chilled out people.
I used to be that girl who left savasana before the end of class because I had somewhere more important to be. Meditation forces me to slow down, and it feels incredible. There’s nothing I need to do and nowhere else I need to be. It gives me permission to stop for 5 minutes and just be, guilt-free.
3. Meditation takes a l lot of time.
Now, I am pretty disciplined but when I tried to stick to my commitment to meditate for 20 minutes a day, I failed spectacularly. The truth is, I didn’t want it badly enough. I had plenty of other things I’d rather be doing – training, working on my business, hanging out with my favourite people, playing or pampering. What I discovered after hundreds of failed attempts is that since the benefits of meditation are cumulative, 5 minutes every day is going to give you way more benefits than 20 minutes a few times a week.
4. You have to focus on your breath.
In my opinion, breath meditation is one of the hardest techniques to master. A few years ago, I went on an incredible 4-day silent retreat deep in the South American jungle. Up to this point, I had only experimented with breath meditation. What I discovered sitting in that yoga shala for 6 hours a day, was that if I concentrated on the natural sounds in my environment – from the birds, wild animals and insects – I could focus for much longer periods of time than if I just tried to count my breaths.
5. You have to meditate first thing in the morning.
One of my biggest meditation discoveries was that my mind was way calmer at the end of a yoga session than at any other time of the day. Getting the blood pumping and stretching out my entire body from head to toe had the added benefit of quieting my busy mind. You don’t have to meditate after yoga or working out, but I encourage you to experiment with the best time for you.
6. You have to sit in lotus position.
I’m a serious yogi and this doesn’t even work for me, so you’re off the hook. Some teachers believe that sitting to meditate makes it easier to focus, but if it’s going to stop you from practicing in the first place, it’s not a deal-breaker. In fact, the technique I’m going to guide you through is designed specifically to do lying down.
7. What does it mean to be in the present moment?
When you start meditating you’ll notice that there’s a constant running commentary in your head, replaying past events, berating you for stuff you probably can’t change anyway and worrying about a future you don’t even know is going to happen. By focussing on the sensations in your body, you stop time-travelling and rest in the present moment, even if just for a few breaths.
8. Meditation is about clearing your mind.
For starters, this is clearly impossible. Thinking is one of the key processes keeping you alive. It turns out that it isn’t thinking but stuck thinking that meditation is designed to free you from. The practice is in noticing when a thought pops into your head that is unhelpful or irrelevant, and instead of adding to it and making it into a story, just letting it go and bringing your focus back to your breath.
My Simple 5-Step Process
This is what you do:
1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Rest your arms by your sides, palms facing up.
2. Click on the link here and I’ll guide you through a 5-minute Body Scan Meditation, methodically drawing your attention to physical sensations all the way from the soles of your feet up to the crown of your head.
3. Be curious and try to notice any areas of tightness, pain or discomfort. Breathe into these areas, consciously allowing your muscles to let go of any tension.
4. If your mind wanders off from observing the sensations in your body, gently bring it back, over and over.
5. Practice this technique for 5 minutes every day. Consistency is the key.
To see more free articles and videos visit Abi on her website here!