A lot of us are “busy.” It’s difficult to find time to workout, eat right, see family and friends as much as we want, excel at work, and fit in time to relax.
Add meditation to that? Forget it.
If the above hit home (maybe add “I’m tired” to that list), a simple meditation strategy is exactly what you need. The benefits of meditation are plentiful, from reducing stress, elevated mood, better (and clearer) decision making, and less reactivity to bad traffic.
The number of times or length of time you meditate per day may not have an increased utility for you. What does, however, is the consistency at which you practice. Below I have provided three different, simple meditations you can practice on your own, depending on when you can fit it into your “busy” schedule.
Morning Meditation: “Just Breathe”
6am - Alarm clock blares and you wake, heart rate racing from the jolt. You sit up on the edge of your bed, facing the window. It’s still quiet outside, and you haven’t checked your email or social media yet…(right?). Set the timer on your phone or watch for 5 minutes.
Sit up in bed, either on the edge or against the headboard, and simply start to breathe. Focus on your inhales becoming smooth, and your exhales becoming long. The breath is felt in the belly - it fills with air and rises, it empties and falls.
Aim for a 4-2-6 cadence.
Four counts on your inhale
Two counts holding the breath at the top
Six counts on your exhale
These do not need to be full seconds at first but simply focusing on making the exhale longer than your inhale. The use of the belly is called diaphragmatic breathing, which has benefits outside of meditation (like in the gym).
Pro Tip: Random thoughts will pop into your head. We cannot control our thoughts, however, we can control what we give focus and attention to. Simply let the thought run its course, then refocus on the breath. Practice will make you stronger.
Afternoon Meditation: “The Sixth Sense”
12pm - It’s time for lunch at work, and everyone is already stressed out. Meetings are behind like a poorly run doctor’s office, and your email blew up the second you got to work. You can’t ever find time to meditate before work so lunchtime it is. Take your lunch outside to a nice sunny place where you can find some peace.
Sit up tall in a comfortable seat, whether it be a park bench or grass in the park, and just relax.
This meditation follows your five senses, which we tie all together to find your sixth sense (“presence”…not seeing dead people). First, we start with sight.
- Sight - Close your eyes. What do you see? Picture your surroundings as pleasant. By deactivating our sense that provides most of our inputs during the day, we heighten the other four.
- Taste - What do you taste? Have you been chewing gum during the day? Just finished your morning coffee? Reflect on what you taste as a way to be mindful about what you eat. What fuel have you been providing your body today?
- Smell - What do you smell? Flowers in the garden, or the smells of a big city? A food truck near by or a restaurant preparing lunch? Taste and Smell provide our strongest, most memorable set of senses.
- Sound - Really listen - what do you hear? The laugh of children playing in the park, the wind whistling by your skin, city sounds or the silence of nature? Be a passive listener and let the sounds come to you. What sounds have you been missing as you invite them in?
- Touch - What do you feel? Connection to your seat or the earth. Maybe you’re slightly warm or slightly chilly. Feel the wind across your face or sunshine on your back.
- Presence - Finally, we combine all five senses together and we get “presence.”
You’re seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, and feeling life. It is going on all around you - it’s just finding 15 minutes to stop and (see, (maybe taste), listen, touch) smell the roses.
Bedtime Meditation: “Declutter Your Mind”
11pm - Our busy day is finally done, but the stress and to-do list remains. You’re too tired to think straight, but your mind disagrees and won’t let you fall asleep - there is still simply too much to get done.
The first step is to transfer that to-do list to an actual written list. Outsource these worries to a list to free up some headspace. Make it six items long, and start with some easy wins to be completed in the morning. Now, you’re not actively trying to remember anything and you can focus on relaxing.
This practice is one more focused on mindfulness and gratitude.
- Consider three people you were grateful for today. Why did they make you happy? What did they help you complete? How did they make you feel? Concentrate a few deep breaths on those emotions.
- Consider three things that you accomplished today. What did you get done that made you feel successful? Did you make someone else happy? Did you excel at work or at play? Maybe it was a perfect swing of the golf club, or simply a good hug.
- Consider three reasons why you are the best person ever. What are you putting out into the world everyday that makes you unique? What do you do for people that helps them find joy? Are you funny, or caring, or thoughtful, athletic, or loving?
- Finish with three deep breaths lying on your pillow, smile while you take them, and have a beautiful sleep.
Have the best day ever. #LiveBetter