10 Minutes of Meditation for
By Steph & Laura
Can it really help?
Starter for 10… what is meditation?
“Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.”
It has a host of physical, mental and emotional benefits from reducing stress, to tackling anxiety, increasing attention spans, improving sleep quality and promoting self-esteem. Basically, it’s like the ultimate spa retreat for your mind.
But how is it that we never have the time to practice a thing with such an impressive rostrum of benefits?
According to the NHS, an adult needs 7 or more hours of sleep per night… so that means there are 17 or more hours of awake time.
17 hours… to work, to socialise, to eat, to relax, to exercise… to spend as you will. (ish!)
Surely in that time, it’s feasible to find 10 minutes? Isn’t it?
After many discussions usually based around us bemoaning our lack of time… Laura and Steph decided to put it to the test!
Ten days of ten-minute meditations… could this make any difference to our lives? Could we find a way to make it a routine? How would it feel? And crucially would be thus become entirely enlightened beings?!! (Wishful thinking).
Here we go!
Steph’s Meditation Diary:
Day 1 - We decided to start on a Monday. I’d spent the day having fun and frolics with my boys – it was lovely and intense! At 3 and 1 years old, they are full-on! On this particular day, I’d been awake with my youngest (J) from 4.30am – he’d gone back to sleep on me and I’d dozed until my eldest (A) woke up at 6am. So by the evening, I was pretty sleepy.
I chose a body scan as I love shifting my attention around my body and exploring sensations without movement. I decided to lie in bed, as I’d washed all the sheets that day and it felt so glorious… So there I was, lying in bed at 8.15pm (rock n roll!). I kept with the body scan from my head to my tummy, then I woke up and it was 8.39pm… ooops! I felt lovely though and fell into a really good quality sleep that night.
Day 2 – I was planning on doing a meditation over lunchtime when J was napping, but it wasn’t really conducive with A lying sprawled across me watching Paw Patrol. Therefore I found myself lying in bed again… this time at 8.55pm after a bath. I stayed with the body scan, as I like the familiarity of it. I kept my attention inside my body, I kept thoughts at bay, I travelled from the top of my head down to my toes… then I nodded off (again) for 9 minutes!
Day 3 and 4 – My husband joined me… maybe it was because I wasn’t alone, but I found it harder to relax and was more aware of my breathing. I stayed awake though! But I found my thoughts drifting more easily and I didn’t enjoy the experience as much. I didn’t feel like I was ‘all there’. It felt a bit forced.
Day 5 – My boys were at nursery for the morning so I had a quiet space to be. I lit some candles and sat comfortably. My attention stayed with the body scan. There were some distant noises but you don’t need silence to meditate – I noticed them and then brought my attention back into my body. It wasn’t a problem. It was really lovely to be quiet and still in the middle of the day. Afterwards, I blinked open my eyes and the sunlight was streaming into the lounge. I experienced a wave of joy and peace.
Day 6 – Talk about polar opposite days… day 5 had been beautiful… day 6 wasn’t! I had a tickle in the back of my throat, and it was extremely distracting. I had to pause for a sip of water and didn’t properly relax at all. I spent the whole 10 minutes trying not to cough so my parasympathetic nervous system didn’t move into a calm state of rest and digest…
Day 7 and 8 – I went back to meditating in the evening. I tried a body scan for sleep and found it soothing and calming. Both evenings I managed to stay awake and it felt easier to move into myself if that makes sense?
Day 9 – What a day! I was spinning lots of plates, I’d been awake since the crack of dawn, had a busy morning with the boys, seen my little grandma, taught yoga in a school and by the time my husband finished work, I felt pretty saturated. Tonight was one of those nights when I wanted to do nothing else but curl up on the sofa together and watch some lighthearted TV. So that’s what we did and it was lovely.
Day 10 – I stuck with it – I felt calm and centred.
My ability to move my attention inward has definitely improved.
I love noticing the subtleties within my own body – noticing the sensations I can experience and pick out. It’s been an interesting little project. I realised that I started to look forward to that little slice of calm before bed. Instead of watching TV, working, looking at my phone, listening to music, or even reading, it was nice to be quiet and peaceful.
It was nice to connect my mind and body.
Laura’s Meditation Diary
Day 1 – Okay so possibly the most rubbish start. I waited until bedtime, hoping it would mean some peace and quiet to help me go inward. First my son Alfie started shouting, then 3 fire engines went past, then some drunk men were shouting on the street. Oh, my days. I DID NOT FEEL ZEN. I gave up after 7 minutes and watched 10 mins of Sewing Bee in bed. Not my finest meditation.
Day 2 – I do hands-on Reiki once a week. For me, this is essentially a supported meditation. I enter a deeply relaxed state and I’m able to find that lightness in my mind. I’ll never say I switch off 100%, I think it will take many more years of practice for me to reach anything close to this. But for me right now… this is the closest I get. When I came out my mind felt more alert, I felt more energised and just a bit brighter. A successful day!
Day 3 & 4 – I tried to recreate the relaxation atmosphere on these nights, I used one of my essential oils on my pulse points and temples, I gave myself a 5-minute gua sha massage before… I was set. I used a Daily Meditation on the Calm App - this one was about loving-kindness, sending positive thoughts to every part of my body. As someone who is still on the recovery path with chronic pain, I could see how valuable this was to me, and I really tried to be kind. I repeated this again on day 4 and felt more tuned in on the second night.
Day 5 – I didn’t manage this day…. I’m sorry to say, but I’m human!
Day 6 & 7 – Well this was a daring streak, I tried some chanting!! Now despite several years of stage school at the weekends, I’m not a gifted singer at all (sorry mum and dad). I’ve done chanting a few times in yoga classes… I need a musical accompaniment otherwise I feel very very self-conscious. I started quite quiet and it became very rhythmic. I do find a more “active meditation” is helpful for a busy mind like mine. I used the Siri Gaitri Mantra, which is supposed to be the most healing in nature. I’ll share a video but I did not sound like this, ha!
RA MA DA SA SA SAY SO HUNG
This roughly translates to: "Sun, Moon, Earth, Infinity: All that is in infinity, I am Thee."
“The Siri Gaitri mantra is believed to awaken kundalini energy; each syllable is associated with one of the seven chakras and helps to direct kundalini up the spine and through the chakras:” Source
Ra (meaning sun) activates the root chakra
Ma (meaning moon) activates the spleen chakra
Da (meaning earth) activates the solar plexus chakra
Sa (meaning impersonal infinity) activates the heart chakra and throat chakra
Say (meaning totality of infinity) activates the third eye chakra
So (meaning identity and merger) activates the crown chakra
Hung (meaning the infinite) returns energy from the crown chakra to the root chakra
In theory, sounds a bit like this.
Day 8 & 9 – After the excitement of the chanting days. I decided to take it back a little bit. I wanted to try a very simple pranayama technique (breathing). I use the box style breath which is breath in for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, and pause for 4. I think I managed this for about 4-5 mins before the holds started to make me feel a bit panicky so I reduced it to hold for 2. I did manage to get into a nice rhythm with the breath and this was a seated meditation which I traditionally find harder than laying down.
Day 10 – Phew I made it… ish! I decided to go back to the meditation I tried on the first day, it was a progressive muscle relaxation. I’m happy to say it was infinitely more successful and I felt so much more in-tune.
Firstly, gosh it’s hard. 10 minutes sounds like so little but it’s amazing how much we prioritise that extra scroll on social media. I can really see the benefit in sticking with this but this exercise has shown me that it will take me years to really reach a level where this feels comfortable. But that’s the whole point really. It isn’t supposed to be easy, but it’s a lifelong commitment to seek a calm mind. These 10 days have shown me, that it isn’t one size fits all so I would encourage you to try different strategies, it doesn’t have to be sitting in lotus omming. There are lots of guided meditations on apps like Calm or Headspace which are a great place to start and try what might work for you.
Be open-minded and give it a try!
© Copyright Jasmine Wellbeing Tynemouth