What can you do in 5 minutes? How long does it take to feel a wave of sadness or have a belly laugh?
They can happen in a second, and one skill you can learn through mindfulness is how quickly you can intentionally shift a difficult state or mood to increase your sense of well-being.
You don’t need to sit in meditation for a half hour or more to reduce anxiety or refresh your mind. Longer, regular periods of meditation can have profound effects on you mentally, emotionally and physically, but you can see clear benefits from a 5-10 minute meditation, even in the midst of the most stressful day.
At Mindfulness Exercises, we think of mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness of your present moment experience. It’s a simple definition, but it has everything you need to practice being mindful.
Is your attention drifting into the past or the future? Bring it gently back to what is happening right now. Do you notice an internal dialogue that is critical of yourself or others? Just notice it with kindness and curiosity. No matter what you feel or think or experience do not judge it or yourself. Spacing out altogether? That’s ok, it happens! Notice, let go of judging and begin again.
Not only can this kind of mindfulness practice help you understand yourself just a little more, and leave a little more room to think before you act, but it is a tool you can use any time you have a few minutes–on a bus or in a waiting room.
You can do many mindfulness meditations in 5 minutes, like a short body scan or breath meditation. The meditation we’ll show you here is a variation on breath practice that guides you to an always-present quiet place inside you–a mini-oasis of refuge and renewal.
We’ll describe the meditation in some detail for you, but once you’ve done the practice a couple of times, you’ll be able to do it without the script. Simple, but not easy!
Use this free 5-minute meditation script any time to ease your mind and focus on the present moment. If you find it helpful, you can of course enjoy it for as long as you like.
Here we go.
5 Minutes Guided Breath Meditation
Feel the sensations of your breath.
- When you’re comfortable, take 5 full breaths. As you breathe in and out, feel the sensations of breath filling your body and leaving your body. Connect with the sensations as fully as you can. Feel a sense of energy on the in-breath and a sense of letting go with each out-breath, relaxing into the seat beneath you.
- After the 5 breaths, let your breath return to its normal rhythm and keep paying attention to the sensations of breathing in and out.
Notice the spaces between your breaths.
- Start letting your attention be drawn to the spaces in your breath–in the short pause after you breathe in, and after you breathe out.
- Do you sense these pauses? What do you notice there?
- Explore the quiet. Notice that, even if no thoughts are currently present, you’re still aware in that quiet space.
Come back to your breath if your attention wanders.
- Remain as the kind and curious observer we talked about earlier. Gently notice anything that arises in your inner landscape–thoughts, body sensations, emotions, memories, worries. When you become aware of a worry, for example, you can just note it and come back to noticing the breath and the pauses. You can even say, “Worry,” as you do so. Or, “Itchy foot.”
- If you begin to experience a cycle of thoughts or emotions, do your best not to become involved with them, just for the short period of the practice.
- Are you trying to suppress experiences or judging them? Remember that kindness and curiosity are your tools, and shift your attention to feeling your full breath: in – pause – out – pause. Again and again.
- Is your mind pulling into the future or looking at the past? It’s all ok, simply bring your attention back to your breath, back to what’s here, right now.
Let your mind rest in the pauses.
Be curious and kind about whatever happens.
- Always, always, watch for self-criticism and judging. Be kind and curious with whatever you notice. Be a good friend to yourself by being present with compassion and openness to whatever you experience.
This 5-minute practice of attending to your breath and attending to space is a practice for everyday living.
Our days are filled with all kinds of experiences from thoughts and emotions, to relationships and situations, and there is also space around them. For many of us, much of the time, our attention is caught by these experiences, flowing from one to the other, without much time to pause and rest.
In the same way that you can choose where to put your attention in this practice, you can choose in your daily life. Instead of focusing on a troubling thought or an upsetting emotion, for example, you can choose to rest your attention in a space of quiet, thought-less awareness for a few moments of peace and healing. You can come back grounded and refreshed, perhaps with a new insight or perspective on what was challenging you.
This practice does not mean that you favor inactivity or rest over activity, either in meditation or in daily life. It is meant only as a tool to help you reconnect with a natural place of deep rest, and regain some balance and energy.
We hope you find this 5 minute guided script helpful. If you’d like to try more practices, see our free Mindfulness Exercises worksheets that cover a range of mindfulness topics and exercises here.