Mindfulness meditation is a practical tool that can help every one of us to become present. Becoming present can really make a difference if you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, anger, resentment or frustration. Usually when we experience such feelings it is because we are living in the future (worrying about future events) or reliving past events. The present is now, nothing more, nothing less. We can experience the present moment using our senses, including hearing, taste and smell.
Mindfulness does take practice. This does not mean that you need to sit on a mat for hours every day, in the lotus position with your eyes closed. Spending five minutes a day practicing mindfulness can also have a positive impact on your emotions and your daily experiences. I think you will agree, finding five minutes a day is possible!
Below are three five-minute mindfulness meditations that you can do at home, at work, in the park, waiting for someone (or something) or when you are sitting on public transport. Each meditation relates to our regular daily sensory experiences that we tend to rush past without noticing. All you need to do is find a suitable place and make five minutes available.
1. Mindfulness meditation on sound
I like this meditation as you really can practice it anywhere! Sometimes, being around people or outdoors can work well for this exercise, as it gives a variety of sounds on which to focus. Try to pick a place where there are some noises, but ideally not in the middle of a really busy area. Make sure it is a safe place, where you can close your eyes for five minutes.
Choose your location and take a comfy seat. Close your eyes. Open your ears to the sounds all around you.
Notice the sounds going on.
Now, see if you can narrow your hearing down to focus on one sound. Listen attentively for a moment, then let go.
Move your awareness to another sound, a different sound. Listen to that sound attentively and then let go.
Keep moving your attention from sound to sound. Take a few seconds to listen to the actual sound, before moving on. There is no need to identify what the sound is, just be aware of the sound.
It’s okay to return to the same sound, if that is what happens for you.
Notice the volume of the sound and the pitch, is it high or low? Is the sound close or far away? Is it all around you, or coming from one side or the other? What else do you notice about the sound? Notice the gaps in between the sounds, notice the silence and the pauses. Try not to react or get attached to any single sound, but keep your awareness moving.
After five minutes, open your eyes slowly and take a look around you.
2. Mindfulness meditation on taste
Focusing on what you are eating, the taste and sensations that you experience in your mouth is another way to practice mindfulness. In this five-minute meditation, select an item of food that you want to eat. I suggest a piece of fruit, like an apple, orange or banana as a good place to start. To purely focus on taste, you will need to prepare the food before you eat it, so that it is in bite-sized portions ready to be placed into your mouth.
Take a comfy seat with the food in front of you. Lift up a piece of fruit and place it into your mouth. Close your eyes. Focus your awareness on your mouth.
What does the fruit taste like, as soon as it is placed on your tongue? Move it around your mouth a little without chewing, focusing on the taste.
Start to chew the fruit slowly. Notice, does it taste sweet or bitter? Can you taste it on all parts of the tongue, or just one part?
When you have finished chewing, swallow and place another piece of fruit into your mouth. Focus on the taste of the fruit.
Move the fruit around your mouth, from the roof of your mouth, to the left side of the tongue and to the right. Observe how the fruit tastes, when you first bite into it, during chewing, all the way to the end of eating the fruit. Try not to focus on the sensations, just on the taste.
Sometimes, the taste might be absent, sometimes it might be strong. Observe and keep focused. Keeping your eyes closed whilst you are eating the fruit can help you to maintain this focus.
See if you can take five minutes to eat the fruit, all the time being focused and observant of the taste in your mouth.
When you have finished the fruit (or when five minutes is over), take a moment to notice the after-taste in your mouth.
Smile, and go about the rest of your day.
3. Mindfulness meditation on smell
This mindfulness meditation uses our sense of smell to become present. Smell is an important sense, it is active all the time, but often we might only notice the strong or new smells, and miss some of the more subtle or familiar ones.
I prefer to do this meditation sat outside, in a garden or on a terrace, but you can also do it at home. You can either practice this meditation seated in one place with your eyes closed, or move slowly to alternate your position. If you choose to move position, open your eyes whilst you are moving, and then take only 5 to 10 small steps slowly, mindfully, before closing your eyes again. Keeping your eyes closed can help to increase your awareness of smells.
Open your faculty of smell. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Focus on the breath coming in through the nose and notice, what can you smell?
See if you can identify one smell that stands out. Spend a moment here with that smell, then as you continue to breathe, let that smell go. Notice if there is another smell. It’s not important to name or identify what you can smell, just to notice that you can smell.
Sometimes, as you breathe, you might notice that you cannot smell anything in particular. That’s okay, stay with the breath with your focus in your nostrils and keep breathing. If you get frustrated, let that emotion go. Some smells are quite subtle, some come and go.
After five minutes, open your eyes slowly and take a look around you. Breathe fully, noticing your surroundings, aware of the smell (or no smell) present.
After finishing your meditation, see if you can stay present with your sense of smell for the next 15 minutes, particularly if you move around.
Each of these three mindfulness meditations can be practiced whenever you have a spare five minutes. They all help to bring you into the present moment and to enjoy the small everyday things that happen in our lives.
More Mindfulness articles on our blog
We have published many articles about mindfulness and meditation on our health and wellbeing blog. You can find them by clicking into the search box and selecting “meditation”.
If you have enjoyed these meditations, there are also some other practical meditation articles that you can try:
● Meditation for present moment awareness in our article: Meditation to re-connect with yourself.
● Try this easy walking meditation
I also recommend a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, called The Miracle of Mindfulness. It’s a short read and full of practical meditation exercises and examples.
Come on retreat and practice meditation
Here at the retreat, we offer a meditation session six days a week for you to practice. Meditation is an important element of our holistic health and wellbeing programme. It can help to bring balance to your physiology and breath, and allow yourself to feel more inner connection. Come and find your inner peace in person. Read more about our relax and rejuvenate retreats here.
Online mindfulness and retreat experiences at home
Bring the retreat experience into your own home, through one of our online classes, workshops, meditations or packages. We are currently expanding the online experiences that are available to you. Read more on our online retreats page here.