Life can go too fast. It’s easy to rush from one thing to the next and forget to stop and take life in as it happens. Learning to ground ourselves in the present can protect us from getting carried away with what’s coming next and bring more awareness and joy to the now.

Mindfulness is the practice of present moment awareness. It teaches us to pay attention to what’s going on around us and within us. Recent studies have shown that practising mindfulness can improve stress regulation, enhance the immune system, boost concentration and strengthen our relationships. Research also shows it can helpful for people dealing with insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Ready to give it a try? All you need is 5 minutes.

5 minute mindfulness

  1. Find somewhere to sit where you won’t be disturbed. A bit of background noise is fine, but a peaceful place will probably be easier. Close your laptop and put your phone on silent (or turn it off and put it in another room).
  2. Find a comfortable position where your back can be upright to help you stay alert. You could use a chair/stool or sit on the floor. If you feel your back needs more support, you use the back of the chair or a wall.
  3. Start a 5 minute timer and rest your hands wherever feels comfortable.
  4. Close your eyes and soften your shoulders, face and jaw.
  5. Take a moment to notice the parts of your body connected to the floor or the chair or whatever is supporting you.
  6. Notice how your body feels from the tips of the toes to the top of the head. Don’t worry about what you find or feel like you need to change anything. Just notice what’s going on for you right now: aches/pains/moods/emotions/thoughts?
  7. Start to bring your attention to your nostrils and breathe through the nose. Keep your focus here, watching the inhales and exhales as they come and go. Are they short/long? Even/uneven? Warm/cold?
  8. When your timer goes, slowly open the eyes and notice your surroundings (colours/scents/sounds?) before moving on with your day.

Things to remember

If you have a cold breathing through the mouth is fine.

Your mind will probably wander away form the breath lots of times. When you notice this happening gently bring your focus back to the breath.

If you find it hard – that’s ok! Try not to get frustrated or feel like you’re no good at it. Getting distracted is what our minds do best. What’s more, we live in a culture that constantly interrupts our attention so our brains aren’t the best at focusing. With practice it should get a little easier: just like a muscle, our minds get stronger with training.

5 minutes is a great place to start, but if it feels right you could increase your practice gradually. You could try 10 mins, 20 mins, or as long as feels good. Start with the same steps (1-6) and then just stay longer on step 7, bringing the mind back every time it skips off.

These days I tend to do a 10-20 minute version of this practice first thing in the morning and use a 5 minute practice whenever I need a break or I’m feeling stressed out.

More mindfulness

Getting going with mindfulness can be difficult. This practice is just one way to get started. You could also try mindful eating, mindful walking or being more mindful in your yoga!

Guided practices can be helpful if you find it difficult to practise on your own. This is one of my favourite mindfulness books*. It’s an 8 week beginners’ program that comes with short, guided sessions. Don’t feel like you have to follow the program rigidly. Fit what you can around your schedule and don’t give up just because you can’t do all the recommended sessions. The body scan recording is amazing.

Another great way to get started is the Headspace app. The free version has 10 day’s of 10 minute sessions. The founder and voice of the app is Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk with a super soothing voice.

Giving mindfulness a go? Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments section below and feel free to recommend any other good books/ guided recordings you’ve come across.


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