5-Minute Meditation Challenge
Learn to Be More Engaged and Less Stressed (At Work & At Home)
Since joining the workforce 5 years ago, I've found that I'm often bored or stressed out. I consider both of these states to be two inevitable but extreme ends of a spectrum:
I want to spend most of my time being engaged. Present, focused.
For the last few years, I've been looking for the right job, the right workplace, the right boss... all in the hopes that that would mean I'd finally have a job I find engaging, but not dreadfully boring or ridiculously anxiety-provoking. There's been one key flaw in my approach. While all those external factors certainly contribute to how I feel at work, my approach to my own work - my mindset - is also a huge factor in where I find myself on the spectrum.
To that end, I present you with our third monthly challenge: 5 minutes of meditation.
At its core, mindfulness meditation is all about being present. And to be present is to be engaged; if you are present and truly focused on the moment, you're neither bored nor stressed because the present moment is interesting in its own right. Without preoccupation for the past or the future, there's little to be stressed about.
When I achieve what I consider to the be the holy grail of workplace emotion, that's exactly how I feel: so engrossed by my current task, that I'm not concerned with what I'll have to do next, or how I did last week... and I'm certainly not bored. The time passes faster, and I finish work for the day satisfied with my achievements.
Liking your job and being given tasks you enjoy obviously helps you feel this way, but cultivating a habit of mindfulness can help you to bring those same techniques not just to your meditation practice, but to your work and life as a whole. So my personal goal for this meditation challenge is to use daily meditation practice to feel more present and engaged while I'm working, and less anxious/stressed and/or bored/detached.
If my anecdotal evidence doesn't have you convinced yet, consider the scientific studies backing up the benefits of meditation:
- Stress reduction (which also lasts over the long-term if you maintain your practice)
- Association with reduced levels of depression
- Positive thinking each day may actually keep the doctor away (this study found that subjects who meditated showed increased activation of areas of the brain associated with positive mood, which also correlated with enhanced immune function)
- Increased self-awareness and greater confidence
- Lower blood pressure
- And more!
Want to join us?
Our first challenge was about being more present by reducing mindless screen time and our second challenge was about practicing gratitude. Mindfulness meditation is the perfect way to bring presence and gratitude together.
The goal for this challenge is simple: Meditate 5 minutes a day, every day in March. (Generally, practitioners advise meditating for at least 10 minutes a day to reap the full benefits, but our goal here is follow through - once the habit is in place, extending 5 minutes to 10 to 15 will be easy enough!)
So, what do you have to do?
Our Meditation Challenge Just Takes 5 Minutes a Day
Before the start of the month:
- Decide when & where you'll meditate each day. Choosing to meditate at the same time and in the same place will ensure 1) you integrate it into your routine and 2) that you have a relaxing, comfortable space in which to practice. (I recommend picking an essential part of your routine, like brushing your teeth, and committing to completing your 5 minutes of meditation first.)
- Review the basics (if you're a beginner). There are a number of resources that will give you an overview of how to start meditating if it's not already a practice you're familiar with. Check out this great list of books to get you started!
- Find guided meditations or pick a timer. I recommend the Calm App (our friends at Calm are hiring, by the way!) - it offers a number of guided meditations, of various types (nighttime, relaxation, mindfulness, gratitude) and lengths, so you can choose what's best for you. You can also find free guided meditations on YouTube. In my experience, listening to a guide removes a lot of the anxiety you might have as to whether or not you're "doing it correctly," (which is counterproductive). If you're going to try and do it on your own and you're a beginner, I recommend setting a timer (that doesn't involve an annoying alarm) and an intention (you can repeat a silent mantra to keep you focused), and sitting in a comfortable location (so you're less likely to fall asleep - unless you're trying to).
- Form an accountability system if you want. At PowerToFly, we'll be starting a Slack channel where people can share their progress, as well as what techniques and tools they're using -- apps, YouTube videos, etc.
During Each Day of the Month
- Meditate for at least five minutes
- Tally each day you miss on your calendar.
On the last day of the month:
- Assess - How many days did you successfully complete the challenge? What barriers stood in your way on the days you missed?
- Reflect - Did you find the practice beneficial? How did your mindset each day change? How did you feel before/after meditating? Did you start to look forward to it? Did you end up meditating for longer than 5 minutes a day? Did your mood or mindset change over the course of the month?
Good luck and let us know how you're doing by tweeting @powertofly!