For the average person, a five-minute daily session provides enormous benefits

Meditation usually inspires images of people sitting in a crossed-legged lotus position, oblivious to the minutes ticking by.

But nothing could be more misleading, according to Geoffrey Soloway, a B.C. co-founder and chief training officer for MindWell-U.

“Extended sessions were for those suffering severe stress and chronic pain,” he tells Wellness Matters. “For the average person, a five-minute daily session provides enormous benefits—and even five minutes takes effort to master.”

Soloway is an instructor of mindfulness, which is loosely defined as meditation that conditions practitioners to be fully attendant of everything happening around them. “It’s the opposite of our minds taking flight, which leads to obsessive thoughts, stress, and a host of other problems,” he says.

Like physical exercise, one’s meditative powers can be developed gradually—and mindfulness can be performed in any situation. “That’s because it’s about focusing on what you’re doing,” says Soloway. “Driving is a great example: you should be completely aware of the cars around you, the grip of your steering wheel, the noises of traffic, and so forth.”

But how can you work toward achieving five minutes of mindfulness each day?

“Start by taking five deep breaths as soon as you wake up, before thinking of your to-do list,” says Soloway.

He also advises:

  • Identify and contemplate the mood you are in when you wake up;
  • Notice the taste, smell and temperature of your first sip of coffee;
  • Extend this to the sensory attributes of getting into your car on your way to work.

“By gradually extending these practices, you’ll be on the path to being better connected to your body. Our grandparents had a different way of putting it: ‘Take the time to stop and smell the roses.’”