Often, meditation and mindfulness can feel like overwhelming tasks – precisely the opposite of what they should be! The idea that we have to find large chunks of time to sit and be still, quiet and present can feel impossible on busy days; fortunately, practicing mindfulness and meditation does not require a big time commitment! In under ten minutes at a time, you can check in with your body, focus your mind on the present, and help energize your positive outlook with these six techniques.
Getting into the habit of being in tune with our body’s tension, aches and pains can help us direct energy and healing where we need it most. A “body scan” is a mindfulness activity that enables you to find these trouble spots and learn to pay close attention to your physical self. Starting at your toes, mentally scan each part of your body (squeezing and releasing the muscles can help physically direct your attention to that spot if you’re having trouble) and note any discomfort. When you’ve reached your head, take five deep breaths while you visualize healing energy traveling to the problem spots your scan revealed.
Often throughout the day, we have moments of anxiety, a flood of emotions, or feelings of doubt or panic. At these times, incorporating a quick grounding exercise can help our mind and body return to the present and feel calmer and more in control of the current situation. An easy grounding activity is one where you use your various senses to observe and note things:
5 – notice five things you see
4 – four things you hear
3 – three things you feel/touch
2 – two things you smell
1 – one thing you taste
After you arrive at 1, take several deep breaths and return to the present, fully grounded in your physical surroundings and the power of your body.
You might be familiar with the seven chakras (Sanskrit word meaning “wheel”) and their relationship with meditation and mindfulness. Some believe these are the energy centers of your body, and “unblocking” or “balancing” them will allow for a more integrated and natural flow of energy in your body, mind, and soul. While the practice of tuning into your chakras can be extensive, many activities can quickly help you find your energy centers and continue your day more balanced. Follow an easy-to-read guide to balancing your chakras in a single session to start you on your way.
Many people find it hard to force their minds to calm down from all the energy that the day brings. Guided meditation is a good choice for fast and easy meditation practice - while listening to your guide, you can shut off the decision-making part of your brain and simply listen and absorb. For a wide variety of free guided meditations, try Tara Brach. You can sort by category or just browse and find one that fits in your time constraints – there are options from 10 to 40 minutes.
While this activity may seem too simple to do any good, its simplicity is actually the challenge. Choose an object around your house or desk (a piece of fruit, a leaf, etc.) and observe it for a full five minutes. Gently bring your thoughts back to the object if you find them wandering. Your goal here is to be fully in the present and engage your senses completely. If you get stuck and don’t have more observations, make sure you’ve mentally checked off all five senses; yes, you can taste your object (or imagine what it would taste like if it’s too dirty!). When the five minutes have passed, take three deep breaths and notice that your energy level and ability to focus have both improved!
An easy activity that you can complete anytime, anywhere, box breathing is a rhythmic breath that helps you center and align your mind and body. Imagine a box in your mind; as you inhale, count to 4 and travel along one side of the box, then hold your breath for a count of 3 while traveling down the second side, then exhale for a count of 4 on the third side, and hold again for a count of 3 along the final side: 4,3,4,3. The rhythm may feel forced at first but continue until it feels natural. If you’d like to incorporate more aspects of meditation in this activity, choose a mantra or intention and repeat it in your mind while you hold your counts.
Finding pockets of time to incorporate meditation and practice mindfulness skills will make it easier to build these routines into your wellness journey; choose one (or more!) of these quick activities to start using today!