Senior woman meditating for stress and anxiety self-help

Meditation Is Easy: How 5-10 Minutes Of Meditation Makes A Difference

In theory, meditation is easy …

  1. Simply, be still and close your eyes.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Feel the air filling your lungs as your chest expands.
  4. Hold it in. Be present. Release.
  5. Stay present. Feel the air leaving as your chest contracts.
  6. Repeat.

Easy, right? If your answer is "not quite" — or maybe even, "Why do I need to do this, anyway?" – don’t feel bad. You aren’t alone.

What Is Meditation For?

Man Business casual dress meditating

"Meditation is the intentional practice of calming one’s mind or focusing on a single object or thought to bring about a state of stillness, peace and clarity," said Dr. Albani, ND, Physician and Life Extension Manager of Clinical Information.

Dr. Albani shared her medical perspective on many of the short-term and long-term brain and body benefits of this ancient practice. "Meditation brings us into the present moment, so that we are not living in the past or the future, but are simply providing awareness, without judgment, to the present moment," she said, adding: "Integrating the awareness we find in meditation into daily life can help us be more present and joyful in all of our activities."

What Are the Benefits of a Five-Minute Meditation?

Over the years, research has shown that meditation helps in many ways—body, mind and soul. Below are several benefits of regular meditation:

  • Pain relief: Individuals who suffer from chronic back pain, migraines and other physical ailments have reported a significant decrease in their pain after practicing meditation.
  • Stress relief: Using mindful meditation to relax the body and mind has proven to help the nervous system counteract its fight-or-flight response, which sends stress signals to the body.
  • Anxiety self-help: By learning to focus and redirect the mind, individuals can detach from anxious thoughts, better understand stressful thinking patterns and deal with difficult emotions.
  • Heart health support: Research has shown that meditation can help reduce the risk of heart disease by improving heart rate, blood pressure, immune function and more.
  • A better night’s sleep: Studies have shown that individuals with chronic insomnia have significantly improved their condition after continued meditation.

“Bringing our awareness to the present moment, quieting our thoughts and emotions, results in a positive experience,” Dr. Albani said. "In fact, the effects of meditation are now an active area of research in both psychology and neurology."

How to Meditate at Your Own Pace

Man Business casual dress meditating

If meditation is so good for us, why isn’t everyone glowing from its benefits?

Building a habit of sitting still, being fully present and facing our minds without distractions seems challenging. But in truth, the act of meditating isn’t that difficult. If you’ve found yourself concentrating on your breathing while you work out, or you’ve paid full attention to a single thought or emotion, you have meditated.

"We lead very busy lives, but most of us can find five to 10 minutes somewhere in our day to allocate to meditation," Dr. Albani noted. "Once people begin to experience the benefits of meditation, they often begin to prioritize it as something they look forward to instead of something they ‘should’ do because they’ve heard it’s good for them."

Six Tips to Be Consistent In Your Practice

While you can go to a meditation retreat for better guidance, the key to being successful in your practice is to start and stay consistent.

  1. Set time aside

    A solid 7-8 hours of sleep allows your brain time to process your emotions.

  2. Find a comfortable spot

    Your blood pressure drops when you sleep, giving your heart a much-needed rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays elevated

  3. Relax your body

    The immune cells of a well-rested body are better equipped to present a healthy response when faced with immune challenges

  4. Get some help

    A meditation app or meditation music can guide you to relax.

  5. Be kind to your mind

    Don’t get discouraged if you find it is challenging to quiet your thoughts. Learn to acknowledge and release them without judging yourself.

  6. Build over time

    Start with five minutes and gradually increase the time of your sessions. This will help you stay on track and not give up.

Aim for progress, not perfection. It’s better for you to meditate for five to 10 minutes a day (quiet mind or not) than a sporadic 30- or 60-minute session.

Do You Have to Be Religious to Meditate?

Mature woman meditating

Meditation has a history of deep cultural roots linked to religious and spiritual beliefs such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and even Judeo-Christian traditions. Over time, however, this practice has become a staple of wellness and a healthy lifestyle. While techniques vary, meditation is practiced around the world with the intent to discover a sense of calmness and inner strength, build a connection with the body (or God), and learn to observe rather than react.

"Meditating for even five to 10 minutes a day can be very helpful in clearing and calming the mind, as well as bringing one back to a center of balance and peace," Dr. Albani continued. "Focusing on the present allows us to step back from our problems and become more objective. This often provides a new perspective on situations. When we identify with the stillness of each moment, we realize that we can be at peace, regardless of the challenges that face us."

Three Types of Meditation Techniques That Can Be Done Anywhere in Five Minutes

Mindful meditation

Set a timer and start by being aware of your body, your breath, your thoughts and emotions. Acknowledge the present moment and any trigger that arises. Release with each exhale.

Moving meditation

You can also meditate while your body is in motion. A five- or 10-minute walk can work just as well as a yoga session. Just stay present in your body and make your movement the object of your meditation.

Visualization meditation

This is that “go to your happy place” type of meditation. Close your eyes after setting your timer and focus on the image or outcome that helps you stay grounded and positive.

How to Meditate at Your Own Pace

When asked about the time a person should spend meditating, Dr. Albani was clear that there is no one "right" way to meditate.

"It depends on what feels natural, and each person’s individual goals for what they want to achieve with their meditation practice," she explained. "If it feels natural to sit for a longer period, I would encourage people to go where their meditation practice leads them."

Learning to gain control over our thoughts and emotions is a powerful tool that can help us cope with the beautiful highs and the unexpected lows of life.

The main goal is to become mindful, focused and peaceful—the other health benefits should simply follow.

About the Author: Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Digital Content Writer.