Mi­cro med­i­ta­tions

Don’t have time for a ded­i­cated om ses­sion? These high-speed hacks will help you nab the prac­tice’s big­gest ben­e­fits – fast!

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS - By Jenny Everett

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!

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