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The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

Stressed?

Overwhelmed?

Tired?

Distracted?

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Sounds like you need five minutes of meditation.

When you think of meditation, you might think of chanting in the lotus position, listening to chimes, connecting with your third eye, or various other cliches associated with this practice.

In reality, all you need to meditate is yourself.

Meditation can take a lot of different forms, but in this guide to meditation, we’re going to talk about the kind of practice that allows you to re-connect with yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. This kind of meditation helps us to relax, calms stress and anxiety, and gives us a few moments of much-needed peace. You don’t need any fancy equipment, and you don’t even need a quiet environment (although that will help); it’s the perfect way to recharge during a busy day.

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1. Set a timer  

Meditation and clock-watching don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, so set a timer on your phone or computer. Ideally, you’ll be setting it for five minutes—enough time to take a break without being missed—but the exact length of time is up to you. It doesn’t matter if you meditate for 30 seconds or 5 minutes: just choose a time that feels right.

2. Ground yourself

This exercise is most effective when you can either sit or lie down to replenish your energy. It doesn’t matter where you choose to do this, as long as the location is comfortable enough for your five-minute meditation. If you choose to sit, you can either place yourself on the ground cross-legged, or sit on a chair with your feet firmly rooted and in contact with the ground.

3. Check your posture

Slouching isn’t known for it’s revitalising properties, so take a moment to check your posture before you begin. If you’re sitting, try to keep your back as straight as possible, without tensing up. Make sure your shoulders, neck and jaw are relaxed, and do a quick mental scan over the rest of your body to check for any pockets of tension.

4. Decide on the eyes

While meditating, you can keep your eyes closed or open. If you have a private space, you might prefer to close them; if you’re sitting in the middle of a busy office, however, you might prefer to keep them open. When meditating with your eyes open, find one point about three feet in front of you and focus on that throughout the meditation (you can also stare at a single point on the base of your computer if this helps you meditate unnoticed at work). Whether you choose eyes closed or open, stick with that method throughout the meditation.

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5. Focus on the breath

Start your timer and bring your focus on your breathing. Don’t try to change your breathing or adopt any pattern that feels unnatural (you’re going to be doing this for up to five minutes so your breath needs to be sustainable). Simply notice how your breathing feels right now: is it particularly shallow or uneven? Can you find a way to breathe deeply and regularly that feels natural?

6. Notice your attention

Your biggest block to your five-minute meditation will be yourself—or, more specifically, your mind. Once you start focusing on your breath, your mind will sense a gap in your thoughts, and will try to plug it as quickly as possible with more thoughts. If you notice yourself getting caught up in a train of thought, simply bring your attention back to your breath. It doesn’t matter how many times this happens (and it will get easier with practice); each time you notice yourself running away with thoughts and stories, simply return to the breath and focus on each inhale and exhale until your timer goes off.

And that’s it: no complicated visualisations, no chanting, simply a chance to connect with yourself. Set a time, find a place, check your posture, focus on your breath, and enjoy five well-deserved minutes to yourself.

 

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Do you have any tips for an effective 5-minute meditation? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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