If you can count to 10, you can meditate

Patients frequently mention to me that they want to start meditating but don’t know how to start or don’t have the patience to sit still for 10 minutes, let alone a half hour or more.  The beauty of meditation is that it is completely adaptable to your life.  Some people really enjoy the discipline of committing to a certain technique and time each day; others like to try different methods and maintain flexibility with it.

Meditation of any length of time disrupts the stress “fight-or-flight” system and shifts into the relaxation functions of the body.  There is certainly a health advantage to spending more time with meditation, but literally 30 seconds (yes, SECONDS) can make a shift in relaxation.  Stopping a busy day, stopping a busy mind for as little as 30 seconds is simply powerful.

My favorite go-to meditation is the 10 Count:

  • Breathe slowly but comfortably.
  • Count each exhale.
  • Go up to 10.
  • Start over again at 1.
  • Repeat as often as you like.

This particular technique is great when you find it hard to quiet the mind.  There’s nothing more frustrating in meditation than to be told “just stop thinking.”  Easier said than done because the brain is designed to think.  That’s what it does.  By counting the exhales, the numbers give your mind something to do while letting the stress and worries go by.  The reason you only go up to 10 is that you will find that your mind will want to wander again and all of a sudden you are up to 15 or 16 counts.  Just start over back at 1 and that will refocus your mind on the breath in the moment.

Last, but most important… there is no wrong way to try this.  There is no judgment or evaluation of how you do.  So your mind wanders by the count of 6 – no biggie, start over at 1.  So you get restless if you try to do more than 2 rounds through – no biggie, stop after 2 times.  So you don’t have time to get through 1 round – no biggie, take a couple of deep breaths and go back to your day.  There is no wrong way.

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