Five Minutes – A Beginner’s Guide to Sitting Still

I’ve done it in bed. I’ve done it on my sofa. I’ve done it in the bath. And today I did it with my down coat on.

It was my father who told me to take 5 minutes every day and breathe. It was his answer to my perfectionist, classic type A, charge ahead, fix-it declaration of what I should do to get over my overwhelm: “I need to meditate. I need to start going to a meditation group or something.”

Really, it seemed like everyone is doing it: business coaches and life coaches I admire, yogis, my dad. Everyone is meditating. I knew I needed to get out of my own head. I knew I needed to breathe. But adding one more “should” or “to-do” to an already overwhelmed me seemed so daunting. And scarily, if I did find the time, I would have to be still and listen to my own thoughts? Ack.

“Five minutes”, my dad said. “Just sit still for five minutes.”

I last two minutes. I sat in the bathroom on the toilet with the toilet seat down. I took one deep breathe in followed by another.  The quiet sank in. And it was deafening. I filled it back up with lists, to-dos, as well as some hooey about “being too busy for this”.  That was the spring of last year.

Every few weeks or so, I would try to carve out five minutes for myself to sit, be still and be quiet.

In February I pushed myself to start again. Five minutes.

I begin every five minute meditation by affirming to myself that I have five minutes for myself.  “I am worth five minutes.” “I have five minutes to give to myself.” “I can afford five minutes of my 16 hours of awake time.” “Five minutes is a gift I choose to give myself.”

And then I take deep breathes. In. Out. In. Out.

Do I find my mind wondering what time it is? Definitely! Do I find myself thinking about what I am going to do next? For sure! But I sit there, straight up, with my eyes closed, for the five minutes I have set aside for myself.

Five minutes.

As thoughts come up, I acknowledge them like I would as if I were up on a balcony above a party happening below me. I notice my thoughts like I would the party-goers. “Oh. There’s Nancy.” “Susan looks lovely.” “Stewart’s here.” I try not to allow myself to go beyond the observation point.  If strong feelings come up, I try to just sit with them around me and not analyze them. And when I lose focus (which happens every time I sit), I go back to my breathe.

In. Out. In. Out.

For me, the experience has allowed me to be still enough to feel what I am feeling. I have no distractions of computer, paperwork, kids, television. And even though there is ambient noise all around me, those five minutes allow me the quiet to be, as is, feeling all those crazy emotions that I have been having lately.

For those five minutes, I am. As is.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or unclear or just have a feeling that meditating might serve you, do it. Don’t attempt to sit for an hour or solve all the chaos in your life with one enlightening thought. Just sit. Sit for five minutes. Start with five minutes.

photograph by me
How did that feel? Let me know how it went for you. Or if you are well-versed in the way of meditation and have some insight to share – please do.
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3 thoughts on “Five Minutes – A Beginner’s Guide to Sitting Still

  1. My coach at work told me to take a task that I do daily and really live in that moment. So if I chose taking a shawer I needed to focus on the task. How the soap feels, how hot the water is, the act of washing my hair. And let thoughts come and go as you discribed above. I decided to choose my drive to work. It’s just under 15 minutes. I hated it at first. It made me sit there and ackowledge thoughts and feelings instead of letting them get drowned out by the radio. It’s been a couple of weeks now and I really enjoy my drive in. It’s 15 minutes to let myself be and allow the thoughts and feelings be acknowledged.

    • My dad talks about this too. He calls the above a driving meditation. I started trying this. Not listening to the radio was really hard. My problem is that driving I get more lost in thought than just sitting and breathing. But I keep trying. Thanks for sharing SmotherMother.

      • funny. i had another session with my coach on friday and she wants me to start sitting and breathing for minute a few tiems a day. to sit and be with myself, focusing on my breathing. i couldn’t help but think of this post. 🙂

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