Don’t have time for a dedicated om session? These high-speed hacks will help you nab the practice’s biggest benefits – fast!
De-stress your day with moments of mindfulness – the new micro-nap!
Meditation is the ultimate multitasker. It clears your mind, may help lower blood pressure and could even reduce the severity of IBS symptoms, among a host of other health wins. And the great news is you don’t need to convert your spare room into a crystal-adorned zen den to snare these benefits. You can focus your mind on the present any time. Just hone in on what you see, hear, smell and feel during even the most mundane moment. Take these 12 fast, easy opportunities to sneak in a jolt of mindfulness, even on the craziest of days.
1 WHEN YOUR ALARM GOES OFF
Trade the obnoxious beeping of your current wake-up call for relaxing music or a gentler sound, such as wind chimes. When you rise, stay in bed for at least two minutes and soak in the sounds around you (such as the birds chirping outside your window), the feel of the sheets on your body and the smell of fresh coffee.
2 WHILE GETTING DRESSED
As you open a drawer or pull a hanger off the rod, pay attention to your movements, the smell of freshly laundered (or, ummm, not) clothes, and the sensation of the material against your skin. You gain a mindful moment and diminish the stress from rushing around in the morning.
3 PUTTING ON MAKE-UP
Think of each stroke of the blush brush, swipe of mascara or pass of the lippie as a single activity. Breaking down your beauty routine in this way can help focus your brain before it’s inundated with a day’s worth of work deadlines and funny cat videos.
4 WHILE DRINKING JAVA
Feel the warmth of the mug in your hands, inhale the strong scent and savour each comforting sip as it goes from lips to mouth to throat to belly. Another perk: mindful coffee drinkers are more likely to stop adding sugar to their cup, according to University of Minnesota researchers.
5 WHEN SOMEONE PAYS YOU A COMPLIMENT
Instead of defaulting to self-deprecation as a response, absorb the good vibes. Receiving praise positively may even help the brain remember and repeat new skills, Japanese researchers found.
6 ON HOLD
If the prompt says you have a I0-minute wait for the next customer service rep, don’t spend the time plotting your I-want-my-money-back rant. Practise four-square breathing: breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four, hold that for a count of four, and then start again.
7 WHEN YOU SAY THANK YOU
Be aware that you’re experiencing gratitude, which is a really lovely thing we often gloss over even as we express it. Let out a sigh (a trigger to help you slow down), make eye contact with the person you’re talking to, and explain exactly what you’re thankful for and why (eg, “I really appreciate that you brought me dinner last night. It made me feel loved after a crappy week at work”).
8 IN THE CAR
A heightened state of focus and awareness is vital when when you’re behind the wheel (distracted driving causes one in four crashes, says the Queensland University of Technology), so why not tune into the present moment even further? Turn off the music and breathe deeply as you notice the often-rhythmic sounds your car makes as you motor down the road, and the vibration of the engine throughout the vehicle. Ah, the serenity!
9 ON A RUN
Focus on your muscles and their movements. Mindful exercising can put you in the zone – the mental state that sparks peak performance.
10 WHILE COOKING
As you stir or chop, notice the rhythm of the spoon or knife. Inhale the scents of the dish you’re whipping up. People who get into creative activities, such as cooking, report feeling calmer and happier the next day, according to a study in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
11 DURING THE FIRST BITE
Focus on the full experience of that initial nibble. Notice how your food smells, how it feels in your mouth and, of course, the taste. Bonus: mindful eating has been linked to weight loss, say US researchers.
12 AT BEDTIME
Mentally scan your body from toes to scalp, noting every sensation. If distracting thoughts sneak in, refocus on the body. This clears the clutter in your mind and physically relaxes you, so it’s easier to fall asleep. Nice!