Meditation 101

‘I’m a Meditation Teacher, and This Is How I Use 5 Minutes To Let Go of Something Each Day’

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Stocksy/Juno
High on stress but pressed for time? Same here. Even meditation teachers trained in the art of self-soothing don't always have bandwidth to unwind for an hour. That's why it's so important to keep a handful of five-minute meditations in your back pocket.

For meditation teacher Josephine Atluri, centering herself in these troubling times requires just minutes of out of each day. "My 'Letting Go' meditation is a quick five-minute practice that helps me move from the sympathetic nervous system response of 'fight or flight' into the parasympathetic nervous system response of 'rest and digest'" says Atluri. "This activation in the nervous system is triggered by slow and deep breathing. Not only does the concentrated breathing move me from stress to relaxation, but it also helps me tune into the present moment."

This really matters when the present moment has you dwelling in a fear of the unknown.

"A lot of our anxiety can come from dwelling on the past and worrying about the what-ifs of the future," Atluri says. "When you ground yourself into the present moment via a breathing technique and meditation, you eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress."

Intrigued? Excellent. Get yourself comfortable, because we'll unpack just how to let go with this practice (plus three additional five-minute meditations you can work into your schedule).

Five-minute meditation for 'Letting Go'

1. Lie down and keep your chin up

For this meditation, lie down and stretch your arms out to the side of your body in a 'T' formation and slightly lift up your chin to the sky. "This position opens up my chest and neck where I hold a lot of tension and stress," says Atluri. "When I feel anxious, it can feel hard to breathe, so opening up the chest counteracts that stress symptom."

2. Focus on your breathing

Now, we're beginning to settling into the present moment. Do this by taking several deep breaths, and witness how the breath is moving in and out of your body.

3. Allow your eyes, forehead and jaw to soften

Melt away tensions you might be holding, and focus on the now.

4. Shift mouth breathing to nose breathing

"Transition your breath into a deep inhale through your nose and as you exhale through your nose make the exhale twice as long as your inhale," says Atluri.

5. Introduce the mantra

"Once you’ve established a good pace for this breathing technique, pair it with the mantra, 'Let it go,' says Atluri. "Softly say these words in the back of your mind to help you release any stress and tension that may be weighing you down."

6. Wake up your body

"Return back to the present moment by wiggling your fingers and toes and then gently opening your eyes," says Atluri.

Other five-minute meditations for a quick and effective reset

1. Body Scan meditation

Exactly what it sounds like, a body scan meditation is about recognizing points of tension on your person and releasing them. "Our bodies are talking to us all the time, but our awareness is typically elsewhere, and we haven’t taken the time to learn our body’s language," Jenna Monaco, a certified meditation teacher and stress coach previously told Well+Good. "You might find that one area of your body is really tight and needs stretching, or that you’re holding tension in your belly, and you’re more stressed than you realize."

2. Compassion Meditation

A compassion meditation like LovingKindness allows us to provide self-gentleness when we feel isolated or overwhelmed. Our unprecedented times are pretty much structured for both of those thing to coincide, so it's important to practice that TLC. And by the way, neuroscientists love it for honing in on the feel-good prosocial spheres of the brain.

3. Mindful Breathing Meditation

There's a reason why people tell you to just breathe when you're feeling panicked. "When we can get out of our mind and get into our body, and the breath can break down all of the stuck emotions in our system, we leave the breathwork session feeling clear, more powerful, more aligned, and just more awake," Samantha Skelly, founder of Pause Breathwork, previously told Well+Good. Weaving a breathwork meditation into your hectic day can be a very literal sigh of relief.

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