Five Minute Meditation: 7 Strategies For Quick Results

Many people still have limiting beliefs around meditation. You may still think that meditation is something only monks would do. Or you may think that meditation takes a lot of time because experienced meditators spend many hours a day meditating, right?

That's all untrue.

Meditation can give you quick results if you apply the technique correctly. Meditation can also change your life. And with technology, you can get to these results even quicker.

You can simply compare meditation with changing your diet for the better. If you switch from a diet that's laden with junk food to a healthier one, you'll probably sleep better the following night. 

Your gut health may also immediately improve, your joints may feel better, and your ability to think may be enhanced. You thus got some instant results by changing your life for the better.

Neat right?

So there's little downside to trying meditation because you might just change your life. What's even better is that some types of meditation - which are laid out in this article - have an immediate benefit.

Five Minute Meditation: 7 Strategies For Quick Results (+Tech Hacks To Get There Even Quicker).

I'll first talk about why meditation is important, and then cover several strategies to get the job done quickly.

Click HERE to immediately want to skip to these meditation techniques.

In the last part of this article, I cover technology that helps you put fuel on the fire for even quicker results. 

Why Meditate? The 10 Most Important Meditation Benefits

You may still be thinking: "Meditation is not for me. I'm down to earth and not into fairytales".

If so, you're probably mistaken.

Let us look at 10 - scientifically backed - meditation benefit:

  1. Meditation very effectively counters chronic stress (1; 2; 3).

    The mechanism for that effect is that meditation calms several circuits in the brain. The amygdala is an example - a brain area that's like an "alarm bell" in your head.

    Meditation teaches that alarm bell not to go off all the time, which then prevents certain stress hormones such as cortisol to be created (1).

    Even if you've got a disease, meditation can decrease your suffering and improve well-being (2). Meditation works in different conditions, such as "cancer, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain and skin disorders" (3).

    All of these conditions are interrelated with chronic stress as well (unfortunately). 

  2. Meditation improves your well-being and happiness (4).

    If you're stuck in the past or thinking of the future all the time, you're not as happy as you could be. 

    For example, you may continually think about something that went wrong at your job a few years ago. If that's the case, your happiness in the present moment is constantly undermined by your thoughts about the past (which you cannot change anyway).

    Another example is thinking of the future, which also undermines your current happiness levels. You may think about the deadline that's due in a month or the presentation you have to give in 2 days time.

    Thinking about these issues won't help you actually resolve them, however, and meditation teaches you to stay present. If you can stay present, you will be more able to get the job done because you're able to take massive action.

    The result is less burnout and stress, once again (4; 5; 6).

  3. Meditation makes you more productive (7; 8; 9).

    That's right.

    Remember meditation allows you to stay present? Getting stuff done today requires that you stay present now.

    Whether you think about blogging - like I do - or working as an executive at a bank, or a teacher, staying present basically equals your ability to focus.

    The problem?

    In today's world, it's become easier and easier to be distracted. Social media, multitasking, and a busy schedule all prevent you from getting actual work done. Improving your ability to focus accomplishes the opposite.

    If you'd like to learn more about staying present, read my article about disconnecting from technology. Disconnecting is massive for productivity.

  4. Meditation improves sleep quality (10; 11).

    As you might know, I've been talking about sleep quality a lot. I consider sleep quality just as important as diet and exercise for improving your health.

    The reason why sleep quality improves is very simple: if you're less stressed you're going to be sleeping better.

    Think about that. When is your sleep quality better: if you're under lots of pressure to meet deadlines--or when you're spending 3 weeks on a beach in the Bahamas? The answer is easy.

    The consequence of sleeping better due to meditation is that you're less fatigued and more energetic during the day (11). Even if you've got a disease such as cancer or Fibromyalgia, sleep quality improves through mediation (12; 13).

  5. Meditation enhances brain performance.

    Sure, you can swallow a couple of nootropics and instantly improve the way your brain works. (Note -  Nootropics are supplements that increase your focus, creativity, and memory) But mindfulness is the same, giving you an instant boost to cognitive performance (14; 15; 16; 17).

    In the long term, meditation may even affect the structure of the brain. White matter, which helps different brain areas communicate, increases with meditation (18).

    Many biohackers like Dave Asprey meditate for the cognitive enhancement benefits. 

  6. Meditation may slow down brain aging.

    The latest studies show that meditation may counter aging of the brain (18; 19; 20; 21). That aging process is even countered on the cellular level (19).

    One study states that:

    "After 12 weeks of YMLI (yoga & meditation lifestyle intervention), there were significant improvements in both the cardinal biomarkers of cellular aging and the metabotrophic biomarkers influencing cellular aging compared to baseline values. The mean levels of 8-OH2dG, ROS, cortisol, and IL-6 were significantly lower and mean levels of TAC, telomerase activity, β-endorphin, BDNF, and sirtuin-1 were significantly increased (all values p < 0.05) post-YMLI. " (19).

    That study did combine yoga and meditation. Nevertheless, if you're exercising and meditating it can naturally be expected that you get these benefits as well.

  7. Meditation counters many modern diseases.

    Nice huh?

    These diseases include diabetes and heart disease (20; 21; 22; 23).

    I know what you're thinking: "You're saying by meditating I can avoid these common diseases?!"

    Yes...

    Stress contributes to many modern diseases. And meditation lowers your overall stress levels, thereby preventing these diseases from developing in the first place.

    Chronic inflammation levels also decrease (21). The same is true for blood pressure and blood sugar levels (22; 23). High blood pressure, poor blood sugar regulation, and chronic inflammation all increase your risk of getting modern diseases. 

  8. Meditation improves your emotional intelligence.

    Crazy right?

    If you're meditating you're more willing to accept imperfections or flaws in your partner - not that they have any right ?! (24). That acceptance is also a benefit to you because you're less irritated by your spouse and a lot nicer in general.

    In fact, even your emotional intelligence also improves if you're meditating regularly (25). Emotional intelligence is a big plus if you're in a job that requires interaction with people.

    Emotional intelligence is another means by which meditation (indirectly) improves your productivity. The reason is that if you're better dealing with people, you can get a lot more done.

    Overall, meditating simply allows you to build better relationships in your life (26). Remember: success has as much to do with who you know as with what you can do.

  9. Meditation helps you to make better decisions.

    Just like you're training your body with exercise, meditating trains your brain. And a trained brain makes better decisions that an untrained one, simply because you're more "in control" than you'd otherwise be.

    If you're addicted to a substance, for example, meditating can help you re-gain control over impulses that tell you to drink or use drugs (27).

    If you're healthy, meditation allows you to stay calmer - which is a much better place to make decisions from (28).

    Think about it, do you make better decisions if you're really angry or sad and overcome by emotion, or do you choose what's in your best long-term interest if you're really calm?

    You know the answer...

    Meditation can even improve decision making in groups if one of the participants is meditating (29).

  10. Enhances immune system function.

    As a result, you're less likely to be struck by a common cold or to get really sick from a bacterial infection.

    Levels of lymphocytes, which participate in the immune system, vary between experienced meditators and people who don't meditate (30).

    And while the research in this area still isn't fully developed, the immune response of individual cells, as well as your overall inflammation levels, are influenced by meditation (31).

    Meditation also changes the gut microbiome (32). That microbiome plays an essential role in your overall immune function. With compromised gut function, unwanted compounds can travel from the gut into the bloodstream and can even end up in the brain.

 

That's 10 different meditation benefits right there. Let's now look at how you can get these benefits as quickly as possible...

 

7 Quick Meditation Techniques For Instant Health Benefits

I hope you're now convinced that meditation is a potential game-changer.

Again, meditation is simply a gym workout for your mind.

And you probably know that I'm all for efficiency when training my body. For exercise, I've been using a 15 minutes per week approach for years now. 

Many people don't know that by training less you can actually dramatically increase your results in the gym.

The same is true for meditation. 

Just spending some time on meditation, as opposed to no time at all, can already dramatically change your life.

So let's go over these techniques one by one:

 

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is probably the most practiced type of meditation today. 

One reason for that popularity is that mindfulness is easily practiced by yourself once you learn how to perform the technique.

And the easiest way to understand mindfulness is to envision yourself focusing on the present instead of the future or past - as I talked about before.

There are many ways to focus on the present instead of the past or future: you can focus on a candle in the room, your breath, or a body part.

For now, let's pick your breath. With mindfulness, you're turning your mind's attention continually towards that breath.

The problem is that this attention does not come naturally to many people. In fact, the human mind naturally wanders to all kinds of topics that have nothing to do with your breath, such as:

  • The dishes that still need to be cleaned
  • Why your coworker was in such a bad mood yesterday
  • Whether you closed the doors of the house.

And more...

Your mind focuses on almost anything except what it needs to focus on: your breathYour goal is to bring your attention back to that breath once your mind gets distracted.

Many people make the mistake of thinking they've made an error when their mind gets distracted. But the careful observer sees that I wrote "when" and not "if". The reason is that even the most experienced meditator gets distracted during their meditation.

Distraction from what you're focusing on is thus fully expected. You therefore don't need to beat yourself down when you lose focus - the entire goal is to re-direct your focus at your breath whenever you do get distracted. 

Again, meditating is just like spending time in the gym: every time you direct your attention back to your breath is like squatting for one repetition in the gym.

The goal is to get as many repetitions as possible.

The bright side about mindfulness is that it already works in a few minutes. Heck, even spending 5-seconds focusing on your breath already makes you more relaxed.

Don't believe me?

Check the video below:

Takeaway: practice mindfulness meditation for 20 minutes every day. If you're short on time, meditate for 5 minutes. If you've got even less time, do it for 5 seconds. 

 

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing is very, very simple (33).

During box breathing, you're spending an equal amount of time 1) breathing in, 2) pausing, 3) breathing out, and 4) pausing again.

So if you're box breathing for 4 seconds, that means you're slowly breathing in for 4 seconds, pausing for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds, and pausing again for 4 seconds.

By slowing down your breathing you're getting really relaxed (35. 36. 37).

Just look at people who hyperventilate: they're really stressed and anxious. Slow breathing brings you into a state that's the opposite of hyperventilation: calm and relaxed.

Make sure you're breathing through your lower belly as much as possible when box breathing--not your chest (38; 39).

The more you practice box breathing, the better the results will be. Over time, you'll be more calm and relaxed no matter what activity you're in.

So if you're practicing box breathing a week before an important presentation, chances are high that you're also breathing more calmly during that peak moment.

 

3. Alternating Nostril Breathing

Another simple biohack: alternating between the nostril you're breathing through.

Normally, your body closes off one nostril while the other one opens. That opening up and closing cycles over time. So one hour, your left nostril might be opened while your right one is closed. The next hour that situation may have reversed.

As a human, you can also intentionally control your breathing: that's where alternating nostril breathing comes in:

  • With a finger, close your left nostril. Then slowly breathe in through your right nostril.
  • Next, remove the finger from your left nostril and place it on your right one. Then exhale through your left nostril.
  • Inhale again through your left nostril, and close down the left nostril with your finger once again. Exhale through your right nostril, and inhale through that same nostril as well.
  • Pause between each exhale and inhale.
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes. Make your breathing as consistent as possible for the best outcome.

As a result, you'll feel more calm and relaxed (40; 41). Your nervous system literally moves into a more serene state.

Some limited evidence also exists that alternating nostril breathing lowers anxiety (42). This breathing style may thus be perfect for the current stress-ridden society.

The best part?

Just practicing for a few minutes, up to 15, already gives results. You can do this meditative breathing anywhere, whether you're sitting on the bus, watching television, or waiting in the doctor's office.

 

4. Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation comes by different names, such as "Transcendental Meditation", "Vedic Meditation", or "Ziva Meditation".

The technique is really simple: you're allowing a meaningless sound to repeat in your head which brings you to progressively deeper states of relaxation.

The key to correctly practicing mantra meditation is to let the mantra do what it naturally does--without interference.

Don't try to interfere with the rhythm of the mantra, or it's loudness or the way it sounds. In other words, it's fully expected that the mantra changes over time - you don't have to control anything.

Traditionally, this meditation style is practiced twice a day for 15-20 minutes. 

The benefits of mantra meditation are astounding, because it lowers stress and anxiety, improves quality of life, boosts cognitive performance, improves sleep quality, and more (46, 47, 48, 49, 50).

Try this meditation style - it's free!

Once you become more adept, just meditating for a couple of minutes already has good effects. 

Make sure to sit comfortably in a chair that has back support. No need to sit in a difficult meditation position.

 

5. Nasal-Only Breathing

Sometimes you find out society has it all wrong on a certain topic. A couple of years ago, I found out that most of the dietary advice out there is plain wrong.

I had been taught that eating fat was bad, that polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy (independent of their sourcing), and that counting calories are all there is to it when it comes to fat loss.

Later on, I found out that some fats are not only healthy but even necessary. I also found out that vegetable oils are one of the most toxic foods in existence (if not the most) and that fat loss is more complex than counting calories. Talk about a wakeup call...

Breathing is similar.

You're meant to breathe through your nose almost 24-7. Only during very intense exercise is it required that you breathe through your mouth.

Your mouth is for eating and speaking--your nose is meant for breathing. And yet, many people in today's society are breathing through their mouth.

There's lots of evidence that mouth breathing is wrong. Just take a simple look in nature: almost all animals are breathing through their nose all the time. 

Just look at the following quote:

"Mouth breathing in cats is not normal and may be a sign of a serious medical condition." (Source)

Mouth breathing in humans is not normal either but we've gotten used to it. 

So why change? The reason for nasal breathing is that your body retains CO2 much better. CO2 is not just a waste product but is essential to take up the oxygen into your cells (43, 44, 45).

You'll often also start breathing quicker and quicker if you're mouth breathing. The downside of breathing quicker is that you're expelling even more CO2 that way, lowering the amount of oxygen your body absorbs.

The counter-intuitive lesson is that you need to breathe more slowly and through your nose to improve oxygenation.

The best part is that nasal breathing won't take any time at all once you get used to it. In fact, nasal-only breathing saves you lots of time.

This is also why I recommend mouth taping at night to reduce mouth breathing whilst sleeping. 

 

6. Body-Awareness Meditation

Body awareness is somewhat similar to mindfulness in that you're directing your body's focus.

The difference is that during body-awareness meditation, you're directing the focus to different body parts.

Many people don't know that they hold tension in different parts of their bodies. By becoming aware of that tension it becomes easier to let it go.

During body awareness-meditation, you're slowly progressing through all parts of your body and learning to fully relax that body part.

You may start, for instance, with your toes. For 30 seconds, you'll become fully aware of those toes and focus on the emerging sensations from those toes. You then try to fully relax your toes.

Next, you'll move to your feet, lower legs, tights, glutes, and so forth. If you practice this meditation style more frequently, you'll learn which places of your body naturally become tenser (due to sitting all day, for example).

You can then easily focus on that body part, such as your neck or middle back, and let the tension go during your day. Again, this meditation form can save you time as well because you're simply less tense throughout the day and learn to relax.

 

7. Loving-Kindness Meditation

This meditation technique is a bit more "woo woo", but it might help in certain circumstances.

The goal of loving-kindness meditation is to (eventually) develop compassion for all of humanity. 

Some studies have actually shown that loving-kindness meditation can increase the number of positive emotions you're feeling, make you more loving towards yourself, and possible counter mental conditions (46, 47).

Usually, certain affirmations are used for this meditation type. Examples are "I'm worthy of happiness" and "I deserve to feel good".

That's right: loving-kindness meditation starts with yourself and then slowly moves to people around you.

Even if you don't practice this meditation, the principles used in this style are still worth remembering: self-compassion.

Being compassionate to yourself - and thus not too hard on yourself - can reduce stress and improve your overall well being (48, 49). 

 

Biohacking Meditation With Technology

You may be thinking: "but I thought meditation was free and easy to use".

That's true, but modern technology can make your sessions even better. Just like better gym equipment can boost your gains in the gym, better meditation tools can make quick progress much easier.

So let's dig into two different devices that can take your meditation sessions to the next level: 

 

1. Inner Balance Device (Or Phone App)

Inner balance can be bought as an independent device as well as an extension for your phone (iPhone and Android).

The goal of inner balance is to lower your stress levels. Inner balance - just as all the earlier meditation forms - is practice-based. 

Inner balance specifically uses "heart rate variability". Heart rate variability is the measurement of the interval between your heartbeats.

An interval that's dissimilar over time signifies lower stress levels, while it's an indication of stress if the interval is very regular. With the inner balance, you learn to increase that heart rate variability so that you're moving away from a stressful state.

The upside is that you only need to practice a couple of minutes a day. You already know I'm all in favor of efficiency, so check out the inner balance HERE.

The inner balance measures your heart rate variability through your ear. You have to clip on a device on your ear that is connected to your phone.

Read my previous article on heart rate variability if you'd like to learn more. 

 

2. Muse Headband

Now we're talking:

 

 

The Muse headband measures brainwaves through your skull. Your brain actually emits electromagnetic waves at certain frequencies. Those frequencies vary during different sleep stages and in wakefulness. 

The bright side about the Muse headband is that it gives you immediate feedback on how well you're relaxing.

Getting immediate feedback is a huge benefit.

Let me give you an analogy. Assume that you're squatting in the gym, after seeing a couple of videos online on how to squat. 

The problem with that approach is that if you don't have a personal trainer, problems with your technique are not going to be corrected and will become a bad habit. Back when I used to coach clients in the gym, many people thought they were exercising with perfect technique but few actually were.

That's why personal trainers get paid well: you'll get immediate feedback on any potential error you make. The Muse headband offers the same feature. 

Furthermore, the feedback is offered in the form of a game. It thus becomes a challenge to improve your relaxation level as well as possible because a score is kept.

That score is saved after each session and compiled over time. You'll then be able to compare the outcome of that day with that of previous days and weeks - giving you an ability to track your progress over time.

The Muse headband costs $199 but is highly recommended if you'd like to upgrade your meditation sessions (and purchasing through THIS link will save you 15% on the price).

Read my extensive article about the Muse headband HERE.

3. Oura Ring Moments

The Oura Ring now has an inbuilt meditation feature called 'Moments'.

Moments allows the user to practice meditation or mindfulness with the help of the app (through guided meditations, and or background sounds).

Also, as the Oura Ring has a wide range of advanced sensors (learn more about the Oura Ring here or read my review here) you can also track your heart rate and heart rate variability through the app.

You can read my comprehensive review on the Oura Ring Moments feature here.

 

 

Closing Thoughts: Everyone Can Meditate

I'm just going to say it: everyone should meditate, just as everyone should exercise once in a while. 

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that you should become a monk, disconnect from the world, and meditate 12 hours a day. Not at all.

What I'm saying instead is that if you don't do any meditation, and if you're never focusing on the way you're breathing, you're probably losing out BIG TIME!

Think about it. What if you never even thought about your diet or your exercise routine? Would those habits be developed as well compared to when you'd put some attention towards it? No!

So your breathing and meditation aren't going to be well developed either if you never spent any time improving them. That's where 5-minute meditations come in: massive results in a short amount of time. 

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