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What if?

What if it were true that if you donated five minutes of your time per day, you could positively affect the world?

More than voting? More than volunteering? More than giving away all of your money?

And what if, in that five minutes, you also were able to get closer and closer and closer to seeing your own dearest dreams step into reality? And what if it took absolutely no effort or expense at all on your part? Just those five little minutes, that's all.

What if all you had to do for five minutes a day, for all of this to begin happening around you … was to meditate?

We have different lives, experiences and beliefs. But we've all got five minutes.

Could it be this simple?

Yes, yes, YES! Just read on, my friend!
Meditation & Me

I admit it, I have become a rabid meditation enthusiast. I first became aware of meditation in about 1977 when I learned the technique of Transcendental Meditation. Since then, I've been diligently (or compulsively) finding my own ways of meditating that suit my particular person. These techniques have come about through reading, various trainings, and through noticing my own habits and what seems to work best for me. I'm a habitual kind of person, but even if you're not, you may find that some of these suggestions are helpful to you, or may inspire you to come up with your own way of meditating. There is no wrong way to meditate!

Why Meditate?

You are not going to find some mysterious or miraculous new technique in this booklet. (I'm really sorry.) If you know anything about meditation, you probably already know much of what you will read here. So why read it? Because it's funny and uplifting. And because it will hopefully remind you that the small things we do are highly significant, and taking five minutes a day to get into a good place and get away from negative thought really makes a difference.
Taking time to meditate is like the story about the airplane that is about to go down; you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else. Think of your five minute meditation habit as oxygen, pure oxygen! Ahhhh … there, NOW you can go out and help the world!

Oh, and by the way, nothing fabulous is likely to happen during your first meditations. If you've never meditated at all before, you will possibly be convinced that I am a supreme lunatic after your first (seemingly) inconsequential meditation.

But, fear not! Just keep at it. Wait a bit. And start to look at what's happening outside your meditation for the evidence that something is somehow shifting in your life.

You will find that everything inexplicably begins to change, in big and small ways. Suddenly, you feel much less unhappy at that job that you dislike and can't figure out how to leave. You'll find new people in your life who are wonderful and fun. Those around you may seem to be in a little better mood, a little more often. You'll find yourself noticing things to like more often, things you wouldn't have noticed in the past. A tree that you see every day may seem so
beautiful, you'll wonder how you never noticed it before! Creative ideas and solutions will come to you more easily. (Be careful with that one, you may be up at night with those ideas! You can call me, I'll be up, too!) You'll notice that life more often feels really good, that things fall into place much more often, with little effort.

Why? Why would these changes be related to meditation? You may already know or suspect the answer to that, but I'll give you my basic understanding of it all.

Did you ever see a really happy, successful person who walked around being negative and criticizing everything and expecting disaster all the time? No! Yet this is what most of us do, much of the time. Even if you are a very positive person, you may spend huge amounts of time in your mind thinking about or noticing negative things, without even being aware of it.

So, meditation of any kind is basically an effort to retrain ourselves, to turn off the endless, random, often negative thoughts that we are bothered with all day, every day. About 70,000 of them, or something like that. Yikes! Now, what if, rather than try to control all of those thoughts, we replace them for short periods of time every day with something neutral?
Something that is not resistance, or negativity, or worry? Something that is simply distraction? And what if five minutes of quiet, neutral, undistracted, non-resistant thought was much more powerful than twenty-four hours of crappy thinking and feeling?

I believe that there is only one thing between ourselves and our dreams of happiness, health, meaningful work and spiritual connection – US! If we can, in effect, take ourselves out of the picture for a tiny slice of time, we make room for our good to find us. Our dreams are all out there already, fully formed. We don't even need to spend any time visualizing those dreams. We simply need to get out of the way.

This is not magic or wishful thinking. We attract from where we are, not from where we long to be. So doesn't it make perfect sense that spending five minutes a day feeling no resistance to your life would allow the things you long for to manifest? It's PHYSICS!

First things first: PICK A TIME

A habit is not a habit unless you do it – habitually!! Try your best to do your meditation at the same time every day, in a quiet place where you won't be interrupted by anyone. Don't panic; it's only five minutes. Everyone will likely live
without you. And be better for it, I promise! Try committing to six weeks of daily practice and mark it on your calendar.

Breathing & Visualizing

Focusing on your breathing is the basic building block of meditation. Settle into a quiet place, cross legged or in a chair, turn off the phone. Take three slow, deep breaths to begin. Then simply continue to focus on your breathing. Breathe as sloooowly as you possibly can; you will find your body relaxing. As thoughts come up, and they will, just brush them aside and refocus on your breath. There is a reason that meditation is called a 'practice' – you do get better at it with time, so go easy on yourself. The thoughts will continue to come, you are not 'doing it wrong'! Eventually, you'll find yourself looking forward to your meditation time, and staying there for much longer than five minutes! Try imagining yourself in your favorite place, real or made up, and let yourself really feel that you are there, just for a few minutes.

If you find that you have a particular worry that persistently comes up, tell yourself that you can worry about it as much as you like when you are done meditating. There are few things in life that you can't put off for five minutes, right?
Chanting & Mantras

For those of us with slightly busier minds, chanting and mantras can really come in handy. A mantra can be anything. You can simply repeat the word 'one' over and over; any word or sound is fine. You can do this silently or out loud, depending on your preference. The sound of ohm or aum is very soothing, particularly if you can do it out loud. Over the years, I have come to use the word 'shalom' often. 'Sha' on the breath out, and 'om' on the breath in. The sound of 'ahhh' is considered to be the sound of creation; the sound of 'om', the sound of gratitude. So 'shalom' is the perfect word, energetically speaking! I often do this while enduring traffic jams. Eyes open, please.

There are innumerable chanting mantras out there, some thousands of years old, from many cultures. The cool thing about them is that even if it's in a language you don't know, you learn the basic meaning of it – and when you sing it repeatedly, you are aligning yourself with the intention of those words, which have been, and are being sung by millions of others. Amazing!

I have many chanting/mantra habits. The wonderful thing about this is that you can do it while driving (eyes open, please), walking, vacuuming, anywhere – and of course, while quietly sitting, if you like!
So, the next time you find your mind going on and on ad nauseum about something negative or pointless, try distracting yourself for five minutes (or more) as follows:
• Chant 'Shalom', out loud or silently. You can also use just the sound of 'ahhhhhh', on the 'out' breath.

• Chant an affirmation. My fallback affirmations are 'All is well' and 'Everyday in everyway, everything gets better and better.' Make it positive and vague. I think you cover more bases that way.

• Singing! Is it possible to think and worry while singing? Not really. If you're not comfortable singing at home, you can always sing in the car.

The basic point is: make up whatever works for you, that you look forward to doing. Yay!


It's not always comfortable or possible to sit quietly. This does not mean that you can't meditate! Over the years, I have gravitated
toward moving while sitting for meditation. I find it very natural to sway very slowly, with my breath in and out, creating a figure-8 or infinity pattern, or in a circle. This gives me a sense of my own energy moving, and after about five minutes, I find that I gradually stop moving almost entirely. At that point, I can still feel the figure-8 pattern of energy moving, yet I am still. If my mind gets all busy again, I start to slowly move again, until things quiet down. It's fun!!

Walking Meditation

The perfect solution for people who literally have no time; young mothers, workaholics, you name it! (are you getting it yet? YOU REALLY CAN'T BE TOO BUSY TO MEDITATE!) For me, walking meditation combines chanting and movement. This is best done alone; I have not quite mastered doing this while walking my dog, I'm sorry to say. (But then, she's another form of meditation -- a pleasant distraction from busy, negative thoughts!)
• Counting. Simply count your steps, one, two, three, four – however you like. You can easily fall into a rhythm following your breathing pattern as you go. Eight steps breathing in, eight steps breathing out, for example, and adjusting as you go.
• Affirmations. As above, you can chant 'all is well', or 'everyday in everyway, everything gets better and better'. Make up your own. Many years ago, I made up a little affirmation walking song (in the tradition of Winnie the Pooh), which pretty much covers all the bases and goes well with a walking rhythm:

I am strong, I am joyous, I am beautiful;
I am smart, I am talented, I am capable;
I am healthy, I am prosperous, I am successful;
I am calm, I am relaxed, I am peaceful;
I am loved, I am loving, I am loveable. (So there.)

Happy Dance

The primary meditation habit that I've developed in recent years is what I call my 'Happy Dance'. I've been doing this since 1999. I do this daily; it takes four minutes (actually, this feels so great that I've added more songs and expanded to at least twenty minutes!).

First thing in the morning, I listen to Natalie MacMaster's 'Blue Bonnets Over the Border' (a beautiful fiddle tune) on the stereo, or on my iPod if I need privacy.
I stand on my yoga mat, plant my feet a hips width apart and start doing a kind of tai chi/figure 8 swaying dance. It starts out quietly at first and builds up with the music until I am tearfully and joyfully flinging my arms about rather wildly, sort of being a Joy Conductor. I feel then like I am literally tossing my current joy, as well as my intended joy, out to the Universe. It's a combination of joy and appreciation. On days when I feel cranky or uninspired, I think of my dog or fresh raspberries or another Happy Thought for a moment, and get to the Joy Place. I listen to all kinds of music, from Enya to James Brown; try anything that is UPLIFTING.

This may sound completely idiotic, but it truly works! The point is, whatever gets you to that place, DO IT for at least five minutes every day. Think of it as literally sowing the seeds of joy; putting a deposit in your Joy Bank; sending out a radio signal to Joy so it can find you regularly and reliably! Set the tone for your day and for your life. What we put out is what we get back. It is the law of the Universe! It's PHYSICS! When you are in your best place, you will give your best to the world. Therefore, it is actually our job to be joyful, right?
Music/Meditation CDs/Guided Visualization

If all of this still sounds difficult or undoable for you, fear not. Try putting on a CD with the sound of water and birds and just sitting quietly. There are also many chanting and meditation CD's and guided visualizations that you can easily access on the internet. I would recommend Esther & Jerry Hicks, Deva Premal, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Rod Stryker as a start.

And don't forget that you can find an inner calm while vacuuming, waiting in line, raking, cooking, anything. If all else fails, take a deep breath. Opportunities abound!!


First, a word of caution. When you begin to experience really wonderful changes in your life, don't be distracted by them. Don't stop your meditation! If anything, increase it! If you start to notice that things aren't going so great, and you find yourself thinking "I knew this was all a bunch of crap" – I bet you've slacked on your meditation. Keep putting quarters in the meter.

The point of all this is to develop a habit and make it your own. And over time, let it seep out into your daily life, until you find yourself in that 'good place' much more often – without trying to change one single thing around you. You are retraining your energies, plain and simple.
And is it coincidence that suddenly you feel better? That new and inspiring kindred spirits are showing up in your life? That your closest relationships are less problematic, even though you took no action to change them? That you are having creative ideas and begin to bring them out into the light of day? That you now seem to have time to say "how can I help"? That a tiny part of you thinks it quite possible that something unexpected and seemingly miraculous just might come your way at any time?

No. It is not coincidence. You have begun, minute by minute, to remove your own resistance to your own good, your own dreams, your own well-being. You have gotten out of your own way. And when you do that consistently, minutes at a time, amazing and incredible things happen. And the WHOLE WORLD benefits!

Developing a simple five minute daily habit, whatever form it takes, is a remarkable catalyst for positive change in your life. And in turn, in the lives of everyone around you.

What if we all did this?
Let's find out!
Happy Meditating!
Happy You!
Happy World!

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All content © 2011 Maryjane Stevenson
Art and webdesign by Adam Komosinski