The information provided in this text should not be taken as a replacement for professional medical advice in regard to certain conditions and/or medical questions and/or meditation and breathing techniques. If you have questions consult your doctor. The whole content, including cited studies, are solely for information purposes.
The article in short
In this article you will learn about the meditation technique I use to drastically drop my Resting Heart Rate while at the same time increasing my Heart Rate Variability, leaving me refreshed, relaxed and focused.
Not matter if you're an athlete, CEO, singer, father or student, you can benefit from the practice of meditation. There is nothing spiritual about this. Just changes on a biological level, which can greatly improve your performance. The best part is that out of the approximately 960 wake minutes you have each day, the minimalistic meditation requires only 10 minutes. That's 1% of your daily time which will greatly optimize the way you feel, behave, work and react to the outside world.
Read on if you want to find out about the Minimalist Biohacker 10 Minute Meditation! You'll find the guide in the lower part of the article, just above the conclusion.
My contact with meditation
Meditation is one of the biggest things in the health, performance and wellness arena at the moment. With even CEOs of multi-million dollar companies openly discussing their meditation habits and the importance of this tool, it finds its way into the mainstream. In my opinion rightfully so. And while most techniques provide benefits and are carefully thought out, a lot of practices seem to be too focused on the HOW and WHAT, instead of the WHY. Why do I want to meditate in the first place? To relax the body, to relieve stress and anxiety, to forget about the everyday life for a moment and give myself a break. The signals of how relaxed your body is are measurable with Resting Heart Rate as well as Heart Rate Variability, so we have the opportunity to hack!
I tried a lot of different methods to find, combine or optimize a meditation technique which is effective and can be completed in under 10 minutes. Everything longer than that is hard to integrate into a busy schedule (yes I know, if you’re that busy you might need longer periods of meditation, bla, bla…). I think longer meditations might lead to more stress due to the further condensation of your schedule and the requirement of additional time. At least it did for me.
The offer of meditation practices is huge. From meditations inspired by yoga, to forms of breathing like the Wim Hof method as well as so called priming, you’ll find every way imaginable to relieve stress and make you calm and healthy. Also discussed is the time required to experience the benefits of meditation. Is it 10 minutes per day, 20 minutes or even an hour? Besides time, how can one know what the meditative feeling actually feels like? How do you know if you do it the right way?
From a minimalistic point of view I like to look at the desired outcome of mediation and if possible, measure the effectiveness of what I do. So what I want to do is reverse-engineer in order to find the most effective meditation method for me. What gets me to a relaxed state in the shortest amount of time. So the approach is:
1. Define desired outcome
2. Test different methods
3. Find best method and keep using that
When meditating, you should relax and calm down your body. You actually feel different when meditating correctly, but how would you know if it’s “good” or which method works best? So far this was hard to measure but with the availability of tracking devices with heart rate and HRV functions, it is much easier to do. When relaxed, your heart rate drops, while your HRV increases.
So the desired outcome is a lowered heart rate (lower than your average) as well as an increased HRV score (higher than your average).
Inspired by a lot of different people and stories, I tried quite a few meditation methods. A lot of them didn’t work at all. Plus I have one limitation which is very important for me: The meditation can’t take longer than 10 minutes. Why 10 minutes? When I first started to meditate, my morning routine expanded dramatically. The meditation alone took up to 20 minutes. While the long-term benefits may justify the investment, I got stressed by the thought of spending so much time sitting still (yeah I know, that’s the purpose,…). The amount of time spent countered the positive effects. But 10 minutes is an amount I’m willing to invest for improved mental clarity, faster relaxation and better recovery.
So I stuck with the following methods, using them interchangeably, whatever felt good at the time:
• 10min Breathing Meditation
• 10min Awareness Meditation
• 10min Body scan
• 10min Tony Robbin’s Priming
• 3 Sets of Wim Hof Breathing
• 10min of my own combination based on the Wim Hof Method and Tony Robbin’s Priming
Testing and Tracking
By wearing a tracking device (Oura Ring) I could actually track the results of each session and compare the different methods. How did each one work for me? You'll see the measurements as well as the meditation guidelines below.
10 minute guided breathing meditation
This guided meditation includes some stretching in the beginning, followed by a few deep in- and exhalations as well as attention on the breath.
When I tried it the first time (or forgot about it in between), the effects on my heart rate as well as heart rate variability were very positive (two top images).
Though the first try of this technique was positive, the next day the same meditation produced no results. Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability remained the same. This method doesn't produce consistent results for me.
10 minute awareness meditation
This guided meditation includes a few deep in- and exhalations in the beginning, then goes into the sense of hearing. First focusing on the most prominent sound, then gradually going through all the things which can be heard.
I couldn't relax during the meditation and never felt the typical "off" switch.
I often use a form of awareness meditation after my workouts. First focusing on sight, then sound, smell and feeling. It calms me down and focuses my attention.
With this meditation however I couldn't feel any positive effects and the measures of heart rate and heart rate variability to confirm my feeling.
10 minute body scan
This guided meditation starts with a deep in- and exhalation. Then it lets you focus on different body parts, starting with the feet all the way up to your head. After each body part, you take a long deep breath. At the end you simply let go and sit in relaxation for a while.
Although it felt very relaxing during the meditation and I assumed it worked well, my heart rate didn't lower during the meditation. Interestingly my Heart Rate Variability even decreased, indicating a lack of relaxation. Very surprising result in my opinion but that's what the data says.
10 minute tony robbin's Priming
The Priming Method of Tony Robbins starts with 3 sets of 30 quick in- and exhalations accompanied by raising the arms up and pulling them down sharply. The sets are separated by a short rest period to relax. Afterwards the priming method goes through 3 things you are grateful for, a kind of inner healing method connected with spirituality as well as 3 things you want to achieve. All of those should be visualized as clear as possible, using all your senses (how you felt in that past or how you will feel in the future moment, what it smells like, etc.).
Even though I used a guided form where Tony Robbins himself talks you through the priming process, it didn't click. I sort of drifted off when thinking about one particular moment of gratefulness but that was about it. The data of the Oura Ring shows the same result in terms of resting heart rate and heart rate variability.
3 sets of Wim Hof breathing
The Wim Hof method of breathing consists of 3 sets. In each set you are supposed to do 30 deep inhalations, followed by an 80% exhalation, to get more oxygen in than out of your body. At one point I felt tingly and a bit light headed. After the 30th exhalation, you hold and don't breath back in. That lasts around 2 minutes, before taking a full breath in, holding again as long as possible. It feels great to hold the breath and stretch a little, as well as building up pressure "up the spine" and into the head. Then you let go of the breath and relax. A total of 3 sets is longer than 10 minutes so it actually disqualifies the method.
The data is shaky due to movement (the breathing and stretching) but it's clear that my heart rate was lowered during the exercise. HRV couldn't be measured unfortunately, due to the movement.
10 minute Minimalist Biohacker Meditation
The Minimalist Biohacker Meditation is inspired by the methods of both Wim Hof and Tony Robbins. I start with 1 Set of 30 deep breaths, full inhalation and around 80% exhalation. In through the nose (!), out through the mouth. Then I hold my breath as long as possible. While doing that I'm reciting a prayer in my head or imagine how connected we are to each other. I give thanks for my power and strength, as well as the protection for the people I love. Then I inhale fully, straighten my back and build up pressure. I stretch and feel the rush of oxygen. Then I exhale and relax.
Now to the priming: I think about 3 things that I'm really grateful for, as lively as I can. After that I focus on 3 things that I want to achieve within the next 5 years and already imagine myself having achieved those.
If I still have time left before the 10 minutes end, I simply relax.
With the data from the Oura Ring there is a clear winner. The combination of the Wim Hof breathing and the Priming by Tony Robbins constantly produces results in under 10 minutes. It is the only meditation which I can perform in such a short amount of time while still reaping the benefits of lower heart rate and increased heart rate variability.
How to do the 10 minute meditation
Settle into a quiet space and either lie down, sit on a pillow with your legs crossed or find a relaxed position which is comfortable for you. Stretch your shoulders and neck a little bit to make sure nothing is tight. Set a timer for 10 minutes and press start.
PART I: BREATHING
- Take a deep breath through the nose. Start by expanding your belly, then chest and then up into your head.
- Exhale through the mouth. Just let go of the breath, until you're at around 80% of breathing out.
- Repeat 30 times. Breath deeply, not quickly. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
You might feel a bit tingly or light headed, which is normal. Listen to your body and go slower if the sensation is too much.
- After the 30th breath, let go of the air in your lungs, exhale and HOLD.
- Relax and hold your breath until you feel a strong urge to inhale. During that time, I often recite a prayer or think of all the positive connections I have. You can also just listen into your body.
- Once you can't hold anymore, take a full and deep breath in. HOLD.
- You can now build up a sort of pressure in your head, stretch your neck or twist your body a bit. It feels very good.
- After around 15-30 seconds, breath out and continue to breathe normally.
PART II: PRIMING
Now you should feel deeply relaxed. We will move on to the priming part of the meditation.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for. Really focus on each one of them and try to remember what you have felt or are feeling. Don't hurry. Just go through them one by one.
- Think of 3 things you will achieve in 5 years. Really focus on each point and imagine yourself already having achieved it. Observe how you will feel in this future moment. See yourself as if you had already attained the thing you desire.
I know it might sound strange and certainly did to me, when I heard it for the first time. However it does something remarkable in the brain and particularly with the body. There are changes happening on a physical or chemical level.
PART III: Relax
The meditation is finished. If you still have time, just sit peacefully and let your mind relax.
By now your heart rate will be lowered and the heart rate variability will be up. You might feel this in the form of calmness and peace of mind. I really hope you enjoyed the 10 minute mediation by Minimalist Biohacker.
The most effective meditation method for me is a combination of the Wim Hof Breathing and the Tony Robbins Priming method.
It consistently produces the results I'm looking for and can be completed in under 10 minutes. It doesn't require any gear so it's perfect for traveling and absolutely minimalistic. No matter if you're a CEO or just want to be more clear headed, meditation is something to look into. It has nothing to do with spirituality if you don't want it to. It simply creates a reaction in your body which leads to a relaxed state. And after all, a relaxed state is usually where we feel the happiest and make the best decisions.
Give it a try and see how you feel! Let me know in the comments here or via Instagram (@minimalist_biohacker).