Busy, Busy, Busy. We gals have a lot on our plates. Work, work outs, brunch, booze… I like alliteration so I’m stopping there – but you get the picture. All this socializing and getting stuff done can take its toll on anyone.
Enter our solution to handling it all with grace and composure – say it with me –
Yes, meditation. Not that much of it and not for that long, and yet, it really, really helps. Here’s what you need.
You need your commitment.
This commitment is to yourself and to your practice. Meditation, like most good things, is something that you can’t just reap the benefits of without putting in the necessary work.
Tell yourself you’re going to dedicate five minutes to meditation every day, and then do it. Write it on your calendar if you need to, but take back just 5 minutes of all of the seconds, minutes, and hours of every day that you give to others. You need those 5 minutes for yourself. Set a timer, turn it on, and let’s go.
You need some peace and quiet.
Put your phone away, on silent somewhere. Turn off the music and the tv. Get comfy on a chair or pillow. Not too comfy, because it’s not nap time. It’s meditation time.
You need to breathe.
Now that you’re in your chair, or on your mat or pillow, you just need to start breathing in slow, even breaths. In and out, taking the time to really fill your lungs and exhale slowly. Sometimes people take a shorter breath on the intake, about 3-4 seconds, and then exhale for longer, about 6 seconds. Whatever works for you is fine, just keep taking measured breaths.
You need to focus.
While you’re breathing, try to focus on your breath. Focus on the sensation of air flowing into and leaving your lungs. Try not to let your mind wander to what you have to do later, what you’re having for dinner and the emails you need to respond to. Don’t rehash that argument you had with your sister the other day. Just focus on being present in the moment and breathing in and out. When you realize you’ve started thinking about other things, redirect your mind back to your breathing.
The object is to become more mindful and present in the moment. Having a habit of mindfulness can help in situations where you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Being able to take a step back and take a deep breath can help you find a solution to a problem that you were having trouble with. It can also help you not to say things you don’t really mean and can help you not to react spontaneously when you need to approach a situation carefully. Being mindful is useful in a lot of situations and it starts with your ability to focus.
When your timer goes off, don’t jump right up and plow into your day. Allow your mind to slowly let in the thoughts you’ve been keeping at bay for the past few minutes. Roll your shoulders a few times or stretch out your legs, give yourself a little time to reflect on how you feel. Once you’ve been meditating for a while you’ll start to realize that you feel more present during the day, even when you’re not meditating.
Meditation has many benefits and studies have shown that even just a few minutes of meditation per day can greatly reduce stress and anxiety for most people. Even if you don’t feel stressed, making a practice to be more mindful and focused can never be a bad thing.