Mindfulness Series: 3 Ways to Add Short Meditations into Your Day
When it feels like life is go-go-go it’s not always easy to find time to sit down and meditate. We’ve all probably heard about the benefits of meditation by now, maybe you’ve ever tried it a few times. Many of us tend to get into the “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to taking care of our mental health–either you’re sitting down for 20 minutes with incense burning and gong music playing or you’re binge-watching The Bachelor and drinking an entire bottle of wine. However, small steps can lead to big results. There are a few ways that you can incorporate meditation into your daily routine that don’t demand you to re-work your whole schedule. Here are the best times to slip in a little breathing and meditative work into your busy schedule:
Driving To and From Work
You know that time that you’ve been spending grumbling at traffic and running through your long day’s to-do list? Let’s slow it down. Whether you curse at every red light or spend time focusing on your breath, you’ll make it to the office at the same time. Because there is nothing else you should be doing at the moment other than focusing on the road, the drive to work can be a great time to slow down and reconnect with your body and breath.
Obviously, we don’t recommend closing your eyes or slipping into deep meditation while driving. However – there are a few great ways to incorporate feel-good practices to ease your mind and relax the body.
- Turn off the soundtrack or put on slow, yoga-style music. Take a moment to focus only on the way your breath feels in your body and notice any points you are holding tension. Try to take a few deep breaths and let your ears cue into the sounds around you, trying to discern small sounds in a relaxed way.
- Drive in the slow lane (at the speed limit). I know this may sound like madness for those of us who view driving as a competition with ourselves to beat our last record time between locations, but driving in the slow lane and committing to not feeling rushed and just enjoying the journey can do wonders for lowering heart rate and releasing tension.
- Think good thoughts about other drivers. Try to notice the cars around you and think short positive phrases for those around you. Things like “May you be well” and “I hope you have a great day” can help transform your attitude and start your day on a positive note. Not to mention, the world needs more kindness!
Walking Between Locations
Does your day seem to require you to be all over the place and you are never not walking between two (or three… or four…) locations? Try a walking meditation. Even if it is only a 5 or 10-minute walk, taking a minute to let the mind relax and focus on your body can have a grounding effect. Here are a few tips:
- Try to feel the bottom of your feet as you walk. When you are moving between places, try to cue into your body and feel the ground underneath your foot with every step. This can help to keep the mind from wandering to stressful tasks of the day and give you a way to relax.
- Notice the breath as you walk and how the arms and legs are moving. As you walk, try to notice your inhales and exhales, along with how your body is feeling. Try to notice the feelings in your fingers and toes and move your awareness up the arms and legs and into your torso, neck, and head. Letting your awareness travel through the body will let you turn your focus inwards and take a moment to reconnect with yourself instead of being in a constant state of hyper-stress.
Eating During Your Lunch Break
As if we needed MORE of a reason to savor those lunch breaks. Mindful eating is a simple way to put away the smart devices and outside noise and take a minute to yourself. With each bite, try to notice the flavors and textures of the food and focus only on your eating. No thinking about your next patient or the work you need to do after the lunch break–even 10 minutes can make a big difference.
Mindful eating can be an amazing way to learn to listen to the body. When you are eating, try to chew every bite completely and avoid “gobbling” down food. Try to also listen to the body’s cues about hunger and fullness and notice any non-hunger triggers for eating.