Breathe in. Breathe out. Once more, but slower this time. Now close your eyes and repeat.
In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, so many of us find ourselves jumping from one task or appointment to the next. It’s go-go-go from the moment we hop out of bed to the moment we lay our heads back down to sleep at night.
It’s easy to tell one’s self that there’s no time to take a break, that there’s not a moment to spare in the business of life. But the truth is we can all spare a few minutes periodically throughout our day and, in fact, it’s imperative we do.
Studies show that mindfulness and brief moments of meditation can help with a variety of physical and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems, and much more.
So, what is meditation? Simply put, meditating is balancing our physical and mental energies to reground ourselves to find stillness, peace, and awareness. People from cultures across the world practice meditation, and although simple, its effects can be profound. It’s not a practice that requires a massive time commitment, and in fact, can be practiced in various ways throughout the day in just a few short minutes.
1. Pause to breathe
It’s easy to discount the power of breath, but for thousands of years, human beings have used the meditative qualities of breathwork to center one’s self and reduce stress. Learning different breathing techniques and focusing on our breathwork can help us find moments of tranquillity in even our busiest and most chaotic of days. Something as simple as pausing to take four big, deep, slow breaths can ease our mind, our stress and help us reset. The next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a few minutes to practice mindful, purposeful breathing and notice the impact it has.
2. Close your eyes and empty your mind
Purposeful and mindful deep breathing can ease stress, and closing one’s eyes while practising breathwork can help further your state of relaxation. The next time you’re feeling stressed, try sitting down in a quiet area such as your vehicle or office and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths in and out, while keeping your eyes closed. Notice how your mind feels before and after. If your attention begins to wander, refocus on your breath. Continue until you are able to keep your mind clear for two complete breaths. This short and simple practice will help you let go of the stress of the day and will increase your ability to focus.
3. Ground yourself
An important part of successfully finding mindfulness in your practice is to ground and centre yourself. This means physically placing your feet on the ground and becoming aware of your body and how you feel. Scan your physical body, from the top of your head, down through your ears and shoulders, your stomach, your thighs, all the way down to the tips of your toes and bottoms of your feet. Counting down from 60, follow the linear path from head to toe while breathing in and out slowly, paying close attention to the tension you are carrying throughout the various areas of your body. As you scan your body and what sensations you notice, allow your body to relax. This process of balancing your physical state with your mental state can help centre you and ready you for whatever the day will bring.
4. Have an open, positive attitude
What we think, we are. Having a mindful, positive outlook is crucial to maintaining our inner peace, focus and tranquillity. Think of something or someone that you’re grateful for. Focus on this as you close your eyes, ground yourself and practice breathing. Be purposeful in your positivity and gratitude. It can be too easy to fall into a negative mindset in times of stress, and the key is learning to reframe. Practising gratitude during moments we pause to breathe and reset our minds can have a profound impact on how we approach life. It can help us be aware and thoughtful – not reactive – in how we respond to and engage with others in our lives.
5. Repeat a mantra
Essentially, repeating a mantra means repeating the same phrase over and over out loud. Repeating a mantra while meditating can help you manifest your goals, and reframe your focus to positivity. It’s important to always keep your mantra’s language positive. “I am enough.” “Everything I need, I have within.” “I love myself.” Mantras need not be complicated, but they should always be empowering and uplifting. Once you’ve chosen your mantra, it’s time to put this practice into action. Add this into your practice by combining it with your breathwork and meditation. Repeat the mantra dozens of times to yourself as you breathe and try smiling as you do so. Many believe the vibrations felt through repeating mantras have great power, and lead to deeper awareness and understanding.
While meditation and mindfulness don’t have to take a lot of time – they do take practice. Be patient with yourself as you begin to welcome meditation into your daily life. Slow and steady wins the race, and nowhere is that more true than in meditation.