When we’re stressed or busy or feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to take the time to slow down. The world seems to whiz past us, and the last thing on our mind is, well, taking care of it. After a long day, intentionally spending time with our mind — specifically for 10 minutes — may feel useless, unnecessary, or even scary. These are normal feelings to have. But a 10-minute meditation can make all the difference in our lives. Meditation can give us the tools to treat ourselves and others better. When we dedicate 10 minutes each day to meditate — the same amount of time it takes to shower and get dressed for the day — we're developing the ability to be present and less caught up in stressful, busy, overwhelming thoughts.
Eventually, those 10-minute meditation sessions help rewire our brain so that it gets easier and easier to bring that same level of awareness to our everyday lives. And a calmer, more relaxed version of ourselves will emerge — that’s pretty nice. In fact, one study shows that just one session of Headspace can reduce mind-wandering by 15%.
If a 10-minute guided meditation doesn’t feel right, start with a 5-minute or 1-minute meditation. Or try breathing exercises to help center and ground the body.
Wednesday, January 25th
We all deserve to find and feel peace throughout our day. The benefits of a regular 10-minute meditation practice include a calmer mind, a more relaxed body, increased focus, clarity, and a greater sense of empathy and compassion. Yep — all that from 10 minutes of “doing nothing.” One study shows that 10 days of Headspace — practiced for 10 minutes daily — reduced irritability by 27%.
Like any new habit, it takes time to find our rhythm, get into it, and experience the benefits (it’s called a “meditation practice,” after all). So know that we might not automatically feel more relaxed, focused, and compassionate as soon as we start or finish. The mind is so used to being busy and stimulated that it can struggle when we ask it to relax. That’s why it needs training.
For example, it’s completely normal to feel restless when we first try to meditate for 10 minutes — almost as if the mind is a ping-pong shooting around space. But the more we meditate, the stronger the mind becomes and the easier it becomes to focus in and on the world around us.
While this can feel frustrating, it’s a typical experience. Meditation isn’t about achieving anything other than doing it with as much compassion for ourselves as we can. Truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. So let’s be kind to our mind and treat ourselves gently, no matter what pops up during our 10-minute meditation.
If it feels as if there’s no time in the day to meditate for 10 minutes, that may be a sign that meditation should be even more of a priority. But how do we find and protect that time? There are simple ways to make meditation a daily habit. Three key points might help us get started:
✔ The best time to meditate is whenever we can. It doesn’t matter when (or where) we meditate, so choose whatever time works best. Meditation could be nice to do first thing in the morning before our day begins, or at night in bed. We could always meditate to reset ourselves before our last work meeting or after we drop the kids off at school. Anytime we feel overwhelmed, we can take a break and meditate instead of pushing through.
✔ Pair meditation with an existing routine. Adding meditation to an existing routine makes it much easier for us to do it and stick with it. Say we meditate every time we get out of the shower, brush our teeth, or make our morning coffee. Or block it off on the calendar, like we would a fitness class. These actions serve as a little reminder to get us going and create space for ourselves, even if we’re really busy.
✔ Reframe “meditation time” as “self-care time.” Think of how nice it feels to slow down and do something replenishing for ourselves: take a bath, walk in nature, cook a meal, or whatever meets our needs. Meditation is that, too. So, consider adding it to your self-care toolkit. When we sit in the present moment without judgment, we’re taking time to care for our mind and, in turn, ourselves. This also helps us care for others in a more meaningful and compassionate way.
Still stuck on where to begin? Here are five ways to find 10 minutes to meditate:
Start the day 10 minutes earlier. Set an alarm. Rise and shine (earlier). You get it. You got it.
Take public transportation? Meditate during the commute. Headphones in, Headspace on.
Midday break? Perfect for meditation. It takes approximately five minutes to make a cup of coffee. Two cups of mindfulness, please!
Utilize time with loved ones. Create an individual experience together.
Set calendar reminders and invites labeled “10-minute meditation.” Daily life can feel chaotic. And quick. A gentle nudge can hold us accountable while giving us something to look forward to.
If a daily 10-minute meditation still feels overwhelming, that’s okay. The time we can set aside to meditate comes down to our specific lifestyle and motivations. But consistency is what will allow us to feel all those benefits. Sticking with meditation is more crucial than doing it for any period of time. We can always start with a 5-minute or 1-minute meditation and work our way up.
Follow these expert tips to make it easier to build a daily meditation routine:
The less we think about meditating, the less opportunity we give our mind to talk us out of it. So just meditate when the urge strikes, whether we need a break from work or to soothe the mind before bed. Don’t forget: we can meditate out in life — whether it’s on the bus, in a breakroom, in a waiting room, on a walk, or in the bathroom at a party. Meditation is always available to us.
If we need a little more structure, consider doing it first thing in the morning, when most of us tend to be more motivated, and before the distractions of the day kick in. Not only will the regularity help us establish a meditation routine, but it will also set the stage for a mindful day.
The best thing about meditation is that we can do it anytime, anywhere. If it’s hard to meditate at the “same time, same place,” it’s okay because it’s not mandatory. Every day is different. And if we miss a few days, we can always come back to a short meditation. Being flexible allows us to build discipline without all of the pressure. Showing up for ourselves is all that matters.
Guided meditation is a type of meditation led by a teacher who explains what to do. They cue us when to open and close our eyes, how to breathe, and break down other meditation techniques. Because they’re experts on how the mind works, they offer friendly motivation, and practical advice beginners typically need, like tips for using what we learn during meditation in real life. Once we’re familiar with the practice, we can try unguided meditation, which we do on our own.
Starting with the basics of meditation can help us learn the foundational techniques we’ll build on with every practice. But we can also explore meditations that relate to exactly what we’re going through. Headspace offers hundreds of meditations to fit any mood. Try a meditation course on sex and relationships to help us deepen our connections. Freaking out about news and climate anxiety? We’ll help you sit in this place of uncertainty with more comfort and ease. Need to focus at work or school? Learn strategies to be mindfully productive and avoid burnout.
Even if it might seem like it, don’t forget: we’re not alone in whatever we’re going through. If we’re craving a sense of community, Headspace offers monthly live meditations and weekly podcasts in the app that we can tune into as a group and connect with others.
Meditation isn’t magic, even if we wish it were. Feeling stress, anxiety, and other uncomfortable feelings is a part of life. Meditation isn’t going to get rid of them. But it does give us the tools to recognize and better understand those feelings and manage them less reactively. In this way, taking time for ourselves is a little magical.
And when we boil it down, meditating is just a little moment of self-care where we get to be calm and still and take a break from the craziness of our regular life. Doesn’t that sound nice? It doesn’t have to be so serious, controlled, or conditional. If we think it does, let’s remember that we can let unhelpful thoughts go.
It might also be easier to make meditation a habit if we can remember there’s no pressure to “get it right.” We're doing great as long as we show up to take time for ourselves. Even if we’ve missed several planned sessions and start to think, “I’m not cut out for this.” Or we try it and think, “I’m not good at meditating.” Those are just thoughts. We can notice them, let them go, and get back to being kind to our mind.
The Headspace app has hundreds of guided exercises to help you build your practice, plus plenty of other content to help you get familiar with meditation and mindfulness, like:
Refresh and reset with a visualization exercise to help settle the breath, body, and mind.
Tap into the moment and bring out the innate focus within us.
Connecting mind and body meditation.
Observe while we tune into the body from head to toe.