The practice of meditation is a profound opportunity to dart past neurologists, neurosciences, and philosophers to directly unravel the mystery of consciousness in your own present experience.
Many promises have been associated with meditation practice: inner peace, freedom from anxiety and fear, letting go of our past baggage, becoming compassionate to the living beings around us, improving our body’s health, elevating our mind’s function, and so on.
All of that can be very exciting to read and think about but when it comes down to sitting and practising regularly, most people struggle. What I offer here is a concept I have used to great effect in establishing my own daily practice.
Plant Your Five Minute Flag
The most important aspect of a daily meditation practice is, unsurprisingly, that it is daily! As such, especially for beginners, the name of the game isn’t how long you can sit in meditation. It is how consistently you can keep up your meditation practice.
So here is the concept I offer to you in order to help: The Five Minute Flag. Even the busiest of us can manage to set aside five minutes per day to sit down and meditate. The phrase “plant a flag” conveys the sense of ownership, laying claim to something. Thus your Five Minute Flag is the way you can lay claim to your daily meditation practice.
Here is how it works:
Pick a time of day that is reliable. This will be different for different people. When I was in college, I never knew what time I would be waking up in the morning. Will I bother going to class that day? Will I be sleeping in from partying the night before? Who knows! But the evenings were reliable times I knew I’d be home. That’s when I meditated. Nowadays I don’t know how tired I will be at the end of the day and if I will have time. So I set my alarm in the morning to awaken a half hour early and that is when I meditate. Examine your daily routine and schedule. See when makes sense.
Sit down and set a timer for five minutes. If you *know* you can do more than five minutes because you have had a meditation practice before, set it for a longer sitting that suits you. But if you are truly a beginner, stay with five minutes per day for at least a week straight before you decide to increase the time.
Meditate. Don’t get up until the timer goes off. It is important to develop good meditation habits. Getting up before the time is done, unless for an absolute emergency, will be disruptive to your practice.
Once you have done this seven days in a row, you can assess if this is the right time of day for you or if you should switch it to another time. Additionally, you can add five minutes to your practice every week or every other week. Personally, due to my schedule, I meditate in 30 minute sittings during the week. Sometimes twice a day if my schedule allows it. On the weekends, I aim to do 1hr sittings per day.
While we all may have different reasons for taking up meditation, different aspirations regarding what we want from our meditation practice, and different techniques we may practice, this concept of planting your Five Minute Flag will help you to bring meditation into your daily life, where it belongs.