I read this quote – “You need to meditate for 20 minutes every day.. unless you are too busy… then you need to meditate for an hour” This made me laugh because I acknowledged the truth of it and also how quickly all the excuses arose about the “impossibility” of finding an extra 20 minutes per day, let alone 1 hour! Research suggests that 20mins of meditation delivers similar results to 2 hours of sleep, a reduction in stress and anxiety, as well as an increased sense of relaxation and happiness, and improved productivity.  It’s even more inspiring  to know that most of these benefits can also be achieved by stopping and taking a few conscious deep breaths.

The concept of ‘meditation’ often creates a barrier as people have some idea that they need to learn how to do it. Sure there are many variations and techniques under the meditation umbrella, however no matter how you ‘do it’, the result is ultimately the same. Being aware in the present moment. There is nothing to learn, just to simply stop, open and be. Actually it’s more about discipline than technique. In the same way that exercise gives us so many benefits physically, emotionally and mentally, so too simply being present in the moment gives us similar benefits and both really only need discipline to choose to do it.

Become aware and catch your thoughts. How much time do you mentally spend in the past? Listening to your mind tell you stories about “I should have done/said .. or if I’d done it this way… If I hadn’t/had… etc. Often feelings of guilt are associated with spending a lot of time mentally in the past. How much time do you mentally spend in the future? We all need to plan things in life, but mentally spending time in the future creating worse case scenario pictures or worrying about things which are truly out of our control often triggers worry or anxiety. So those who spend time mentally in the past and/or future have frequent feelings of guilt or worry and miss all that Life offers in the present moment. When time is spent in the present moment, it’s surprisingly less stressful and busy, and more peaceful and productive.

When awareness is brought to the present moment, and all senses are open and engaging with what is simply occurring in that moment, life seems to slow down and more time seems to become available. Stress, anxiety and tension don’t actually give us anything other than stress, anxiety and tension…

Take just a moment to stop, breathe and be present in this moment. Stop and become aware of each of the senses. Breathe and become aware of sounds, those that are near and then those that are further away. Breathe and become aware of what you can smell. Breathe and become aware of your skin and feel the clothes on your body, the weight of your body as meets the chair, or where your feet are connecting with the ground. Sometimes it’s easier to become aware of all the other senses when the eyes are closed and if so, breathe in and become aware of what is seen when the eyelids are closed. If the eyes are open then become aware of all that can be seen with the gift of sight.

Stopping and bringing the attention to the breath is a very effective way to become aware in the present moment. Stop and become conscious of taking in 5 deep breaths. Notice how desperate the mind wants to hurry or is distracted before you even get to the 3rd breath. Internally check who or what is observing the thoughts and open into that awareness. 5 breaths may take all of 15 seconds. Do this 4 times per day and you will only spend 1 minute out of your day. 

No matter how educated, enlightened, famous or otherwise we may or may not be – there is only this moment. It is still the same regardless of the stuff we surround ourselves with. Be present in this moment, whether you’re working, chatting with a friend, engaging with your child, hanging out the washing or washing dishes. Be open and present in all that you do in the present moment. The pace of life will feel a bit slower, the people you’re engaging with will feel your presence and you’ll remember things better!