It’s sad to think that in this day and age, some of us don’t have the time to relax and meditate for 15 minutes. It’s just 15 minutes people! Think about your entire day and I guarantee there are things throughout the day that you don’t need to be doing. But if that’s truly not the case, than here are some other exercises for you to try out.
By SMH – Standing in a long line at Opera Bar and I figure I’ve got two options: get annoyed that the person at the counter keeps changing their mind and is holding everyone-else up, or take a deep breath.
Actually, I take more than a deep breath. I relax my shoulders and begin a mini mindfulness meditation, riding the sensation of each inhale and exhale.
Sure, it’s meditation-lite, but for those who struggle with sitting still or who appreciate meditation in theory but struggle to commit to it in practice, it’s a decent start.
By the time I get to the bar 20 minutes later, I’m more relaxed than I was when I joined the queue.
The effects of meditating are potent.
One Harvard study found that beginners who meditated for eight weeks increased the grey matter in the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion, while the area of the brain associated with stress got smaller.
Along with theoretical knowledge, perhaps more importantly, I have experienced the transformative effects of meditating; when I do it, I feel calmer, have more clarity, generally cope with life’s fluctuations better and am less of a prick.
Despite this, I’ve been a non-committal meditator for years and fits and starts aside, have not yet managed to make it a habit each day, as routine as brushing my teeth or finding time to exercise.
So instead of creating stress around the experience and chastising myself for being a bad meditator, I’ve taken to practicing mindfulness and sneaking in mini meditations when I first wake up in the morning before snooze goes off, when I’m in the shower, waiting in queues, on the bus, stuck in traffic, or basically any time I have a space in between.
I’m not the only one.
New York Magazine‘s Jesse Singal, has taken a similar approach. “I’m simply going to count out 50 breaths,” Singal says. “Try it yourself: Start with 10, even. Make sure they’re good, deep breaths. Do it on the subway or in the car or bathroom, if you have to. It helps. Breathing is the cornerstone of ‘real’ meditation, after all.”
Exactly, says Zen Habits‘ Leo Babauta, who reminds that even a few minutes a day makes a difference.
“Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day,” Babuata says. “They require no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute.”
And if you’re lucky, you’ll get stuck in a long queue and have even more time to reap the benefits.
To start your day
“Wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual,” suggests Don Joseph Goewey in The End of Stress. “Find a quiet place to sit and close your eyes. Tilt your head toward your heart and follow your breathing, feeling each breath open your heart and enliven your brain with oxygen.”
Headspace has a great run-down on any questions you might have about how to do it.
To relieve stress
“Acknowledge what prompts your pessimistic thoughts,” says Goewey. “Don’t try to change these triggers; simply observe them. Thoughts have no power if you don’t believe them, so tell yourself, ‘This thought or feeling exists in me, not in reality’…
“Remember that although you have negative thoughts and feelings, they don’t define you.”
Too busy to meditate?
For all us slackers, Deepak Chopra says that making time to meditate and be more mindful gives us time.
“In life’s paradoxical way, when we spend time meditating on a regular basis, we actually have more time,” he says. “When we meditate, we dip in and out of the timeless, spaceless realm of consciousness …
“Our breathing and heart rate slow down, our blood pressure lowers, and our body decreases the production of stress hormones and other chemicals that speed up the ageing process and give us the subjective feeling that we are ‘running out of time.’
“In meditation, we are in a state of restful alertness that is extremely refreshing for the body and mind. As people stick with their meditation ritual, they notice that they are able to accomplish more while doing less.”