(Photo by Haber Photography)
In the last few years, everything feels much busier. Since we can access everything on our digital devices, we are never out of reach and feel an obligation to respond quickly from all sides. Whether the day is dedicated to a high-pressure job or raising kids, most of us have full schedules, and we are doing our best to pack as much in as possible. This has a huge upside, since we accomplish great things. However, it can lead to a significant amount of stress, an overtaxed nervous system and diminished productivity.
I have found in my own experience it is very difficult to disconnect. I was waking up every morning and looking at my emails with my eyes half open. I was 100 percent guilty of driving from place to place while writing a "quick" text or reading an email. I was lucky to have kept myself and others from harm, but I felt pressure to be efficient as possible with every spare minute. I was going from one thing to the next with a million different ideas in my mind about what I had to do, who I had to email, or when I needed to schedule a meeting. I was missing the present moment. Even though I am a regular yogi and read a variety of mindset books, I was anything but mindful.
Luckily, I met Agapi Stassinopoulos and Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald at the Makers conference, who gave a class on mindfulness. The class was filled with women who worked incredibly hard in high-powered jobs while managing to raise kids. Needless to say, everyone was a little skeptical of the idea of disconnecting, including me. However, through the session they proved the point that how we start our day is how we are going to live our day.
The first five minutes of each day set you up for your life! If you are like me and wake up to business first thing, then you are setting the hurried, anxious and stressful tone for the rest of your day.
Fortunately, it only takes five minutes to change this and transform your entire day. Even if you feel like your schedule can't take on one more possible thing, you'll be surprised to find out it can and how important it is over everything else. Even if we have to sacrifice five minutes less of sleep, Facebook or House of Cards, we will quickly learn how transformative this five-minute gift can be.
The five minutes can be spent mediating, journaling or reading an inspirational book. Whatever works for you, just make sure you are disconnected from all devices and TV. Everything will be there after you take this time for yourself. Once the day begins, it's very difficult to find the five minutes at another point in time. Even if you did, your stress levels will be higher. That's not to say you can't take another five minutes to yourself. Just make sure to get the first one in just in case life's events keep you from another time. Of course, you can extend the five minutes to any length of time that works for you, but do your very best not to shorten it.
I have learned the power of spending this time first thing in the morning for myself. Whether I meditate or write in my journal, my approach to each day has changed. I no longer feel compelled to get back to folks right away and I stopped using my phone in the car. In addition, my productivity and patience has increased. I have a stronger focus on one thing at a time, which helps me get much more done. I am no longer frustrated when I do not hear from important contacts or things are not moving along as fast as I would like. While it's not always easy and nothing is ever perfect, each day I see improvements in myself as well as my work.
Now it's your turn! Dedicate one week to this five-minute practice. Take it day by day, and before you know it, you will have a new incredibly-beneficial habit that will permeate through all aspects of your life.
The Five-Minute Meditation:
- Lay or sit in a comfortable position. Turn on soothing music that does not have lyrics.
- Close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths through your nose and out your nose. Feel all the tension and thoughts melt away.
- Begin to count during each breath. Inhale for a five-count. Hold your breath for a five-count. Then exhale for a five-count.
- Continue that breathing pattern for the five minutes.
If thoughts start to arise, acknowlege them like birds flying by. Always come back to your breath and focus on the counting.
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