How to Meditate When You Have 1, 5, or 10 Minutes
Can you really meditate in a few stolen moments? You bet, says Suze Yalof Schwartz, CEO and founder of Unplug Meditation. “The only bad meditation is the one you don’t do,” Schwartz says. “Whenever you can squeeze it in and for whatever amount of time, that’s good.”
In fact, a quick session might be preferable, especially if you’re new to meditation. “Your mind’s going to constantly wander, and it’ll be a battle between thought and focus,” Schwartz says. Finding the gap between the two, she says, is “the sweet spot of meditation,” and it gets easier the more often you do it.
In the same way that a specific length of meditation time isn’t required, Schwartz says you don’t need to sit a certain way or feel compelled to buy props like meditation pillows or candles. In short, meditation should not add more stress to your life. “Meditation should meet you where you are,” she says. “It’s really just breathing.”
One thing you do need, however, is a place where you won’t be disturbed or disrupted. Schwartz says she’s been known to lock her car doors and meditate in a parking lot.
“You will never find the time to meditate,” she says. “You really have to make it and carve it out of your day. Whether that’s 60 seconds a day or 60 minutes a day, it’s all good.” For your next quick session, try one of these meditations from her book, Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers.
If you have 1 minute to meditate, try …
The Savoring Meditation
This meditation is great for slowing down, appreciating the moment, promoting mindful eating, and experiencing what Schwartz calls “food joy.” Do it as you begin a meal or snack.
- Hold the food in your hand.
- Look at it and ask yourself, “How did this get from the earth to my fingers?” Think about it. Imagine all the steps it took to travel all the way to you.
- Lift the food to your ear. When you squeeze some foods, they make interesting sounds. Spend a few seconds listening.
- Put the food in front of your mouth with your lips closed. Notice that you’re salivating a little in anticipation.
- Place it in your mouth and feel the texture with your tongue, then begin to chew as slowly as you possibly can, noticing as many elements as you can.
- Swallow, smile, and go on with your day.
If you have 5 minutes to meditate, try …
A Quick Shot of Calm
Ideal for relieving anxiety, cooling off anger, or releasing frustration, this is the meditation to go to when tension is running high or if you’re about to speak publicly or make a tough decision.
- Take seven slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
- Take seven more slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Finally, take seven more slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling through your mouth.
- Resume breathing normally and notice how your energy has shifted.
If you have 10 minutes to meditate, try …
If you’re feeling tense (shoulders up, forehead wrinkled), this is a great meditation to relax, revive, and refresh.
- Lie down and close your eyes. If you’re in an office or anywhere it’s not appropriate to lie down, sit up comfortably in a chair.
- Take three slow, extended breaths.
- Bring your attention to your feet and notice how they feel. Notice the weight of your heels on the ground. Tense up your feet, then consciously relax them.
- Slowly work your way up your body in the same way, tensing then relaxing your calves, thighs, hips, hands, stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, and face. When you reach your face, relax your lips, your cheeks, your eyes, your forehead, and your brain.
- Take one last deep breath and then open your eyes.