The 5 Minute Difference


Last week was a lively one in the studio as we prepared the print copies of the summer Studio Yearbook for mailing. It was a joy to pack them up with love and send them on their way before the long weekend here in Canada began! I must admit though that when things get busy, I have a terrible tendency; I take root. I stop moving my body. I simply tuck myself in front of the job at hand and stay put for the duration. (My Fitbit and creaky body tell the tale!) This is when I need to remind myself of something I teach all the time…

There is power in 5 minutes.

When we’re super busy or have a big project on the go, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have 5 minutes. And even if we did, we tell ourselves, what difference would 5 minutes make? It’s too short a time to be worth it! Isn’t it better to just get 5 more minutes of work done? We can eat, rest, stretch, etc., when we’re done.

That’s what I used to think until I built my entire meditation practice on the gift of 5 minutes. I had been thinking about learning to meditate for some time but wasn’t finding my way to actually doing it. One day, I realized a simple truth; if I didn’t have 5 minutes to meditate, I was overextended. None of us should regularly be so busy that we can’t take 5 minutes for ourselves. I started to meditate that day and have been doing so ever since.

I’ve also seen the power of 5 minutes in Journal Club and Mindful Mondays. In both classes, we regularly do a 5-minute free write and the impact is clear:

  • In 5 minutes, we release internal pressure.
  • In 5 minutes, we connect to where we are.
  • In 5 minutes, we see what we are thinking.
  • In 5 minutes, our to-dos are revealed.
  • In 5 minutes, we have more clarity than we had 5 minutes before.

Want to try it with me now? Set a timer for 5 minutes, just 5 minutes, and let the words flow onto the page. Don’t edit. Just write. Pour out whatever is on your mind and in your heart. Stop when the timer goes. Notice the impact. What’s different because you took 5 minutes to write?

It’s easy to underestimate the gifts available in such a short period of time. Here are some more 5-minute breaks and activities, all of which I have used to unglue myself from my seat and to remind myself that I am a living, breathing, organic being not a tireless workhorse of a machine.

More 5 minute breaks…

  • Doodle
  • Stretch
  • Make a cuppa
  • Get a glass of water
  • Cuddle with your fur babies
  • Open your window and breathe the fresh air
  • Step outside
  • Read a poem
  • Listen to the birds
  • Draw an oracle card
  • Listen to one song
  • Dance to one song
  • Grab your camera and find a photo opp (or 7)
  • Tidy one spot
  • Make your bed
  • Fold your socks
  • Give your counter a quick wipe
  • Take out the garbage
  • Wash your face
  • Massage your feet
  • Put lotion on your elbows
  • Lie down and close your eyes (Set a timer if you’re worried you’ll fall asleep)

5 minute breaks I don’t recommend, especially if you need a break from the computer!*

  • Watching YouTube
  • Checking Facebook, Instagram or other social media.
  • Checking email.
  • Anything that leaves you sitting in the same place.

Having a strong focus and deep commitment is a good thing, as is working hard, but it’s also important to remember that we are human. We need time to breathe, to move, to eat, to sleep, to rest, to play and to be free. Let’s see if we can get into the habit of booking in a bit of extra time for each activity we schedule. Let’s give ourselves some white space and some wiggle room. I truly believe that we will do better and more sustainable work if we allow ourselves to regularly take a 5-minute break.

Now, I just need to remember that!

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