Most people these days live pretty busy lives and experience their fair share of stress, something that daily meditation has been said to help alleviate. With so much going on, it can seem impossible to find time to unwind, but luckily there are ways to meditate every day without totally revamping your schedule. Practicing mindfulness meditation daily can have a number of beneficial health effects, including less stress, anxiety, and depression, better eating habits, and reduced blood pressure, according to various studies, so it's well worth squeezing in.
The idea of meditating may seem daunting, but you don't have to retreat to a quiet, isolated hillside for hours on end to reap its many benefits. "People think that they have to meditate for hours on end to have any results," says mindfulness coach Max Cron to me in an email. "The truth is that just 10 minutes of meditation twice a day is effective."
Meditation is as simple as controlled breathing, quiet contemplation, or sustained focus, and it doesn't have to be a large affair with candles and chanting. If you want to find some time in your crazy busy life to fit in some meditation, try sneaking in some peace of mind during these seven times of the day.
1. Wake Up 5 Minutes Early
"Set the foundation for your day by waking up five minutes early," says cognitive behavioral therapist Kelly Kitley over email. "You can either stay in bed or sit in a chair. Make a conscious decision to let go of any worries or to do lists for the day. Identify one word you need to set your intention for the day. Repeat this word 20 times slowly letting go of any other thoughts that may come to mind. You'll recognize your morning routine will get off to a smoother start."
2. Practice During Your Commute
Whether you're walking or taking the train, "think of a color in your mind," says Kitley. "Envision that color radiating through your body, from your head to your toes. You'll be surprised to feel a warming sensation throughout your body." Using color in meditation is a way to direct your focus and associate certain feelings with that color.
3. Take A Lunch Break
"Even if it's not 30 minutes to eat, take five to breathe," says Kitley. "Step outside and feel the cold air in your lungs as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. If you can't get outside go in a bathroom stall — the venue isn't important."
4. Practice Breathing In Line
"Are you waiting in line at the post office? Close your eyes, start breathing deeply and notice all the sounds around you." says therapist Ruth Spalding, LMSW over email. "When your mind starts to wander, just bring it back to your focus. If you'd rather not close your eyes, pick a point on the wall or the floor ahead of you to focus on."
5. Focus While Washing The Dishes
One type of meditation, called "Samu Meditation," is just working in silence and concentrating on one supposedly mundane task, and this can be done during a chore such as washing the dishes. "It is the simple act of performing actions with a complete concentration of physical and mental step by steps," says Cron. "Monotasking is essential to life becoming simple and calm."
6. Relax While Brushing Your Teeth
"The end of the day is a great time to reflect and meditate. As to brush your teeth, be mindful with just the action of brushing," says Kitley. "This is a sure way to get a good night's sleep."
7. Pay Attention To Your Body Before Sleep
"Take time before falling to sleep to concentrate on your breath and how your body feels in bed," says professional coach Shelly Jackson of the blog Peaceful Body Coaching over email. "Do a body scan, and start with your toes. How do they feel lying in bed? Can you breathe into your feet and relax them even more?" Work your way up your body, paying attention to each limb and using breathing to lull yourself to sleep.
Remember, mindfulness meditation doesn't necessarily mean sitting in silence; just focusing on your thoughts and breathing provides the same physical and mental benefits.
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