The idea of practicing anything for “just five minutes a day” must have been born in the shadow of the procrastination that impacts so many lives.
The five minute message is pretty ubiquitous if you start to listen for it. The simplicity of “five minutes” reveals its inherent wisdom, and those who use it to encourage others seem to understand human behavior.
While taking a guitar class, the teacher encouraged us to practice guitar “for just five minutes a day.”
When I started Crossfit, the instructor told us to practice handstands “for just five minutes a day.”
In a recent New York Times Q & A with Sheryl Sandberg, she was quoted as saying, “every year my New Year’s resolution is to meditate for just five minutes a day.”
We all know the real challenge is not five minutes. The real challenge is to begin it. And the teachers who encourage five minutes of practice know this.
They’ve set the bar low enough that even on our darker days, we can view five minutes as a light goal that is within reach. These teachers also know that the student who reaches for the guitar or does a handstand or sits in meditation will rarely just do it for five minutes. A cool musical chord will sound. The handstand will feel sturdy and legs will be straightened. A moment of calm will enter through silent meditation. The mind and body start to engage through movement and breath and intention.
And then it is underway. Once you begin, the joy of the core interest is again piqued, and practice becomes more than practice. It becomes fun.
Five minutes pass. Then five more. Then off you go and an hour has passed. Not only did you do the thing, you can feel a sense of pride for having done it, too.