Mental & Emotional Health
10 Ways to Micro-Meditate (No Sitting Still Required)
Meditation, the act of practicing awareness of one’s thoughts, body, and surroundings, has an incredibly long list of mental and physical health benefits. In fact–just ten minutes of meditation each day can help protect against heart attacks, depression, and insomnia among other conditions.
And yet, if meditation truly has as many benefits as it is purported to have, why is it that only 8% of Americans choose to meditate?
An integral component of the Buddhist religion, meditation often brings to mind images of peaceful monks sitting cross-legged, quiet gardens, and serene landscapes – a far cry from the frenetic pace of city streets that many of us call home. For many, this promise of absolute serenity is what draws them to the practice. Who wouldn’t want to swap out the grating metal clank of a braking train with the soft, flowing water of a meditation garden fountain? But for others (like the 92% of Americans who don’t practice meditation), this idea of absolute serenity is what keeps them from trying. In a world that seemingly moves at the speed of light, sitting still—and finding the time to sit still—seems like an impossible feat, an “unaffordable” luxury.
But it’s 2018, and there’s a new form of meditation on the block…
It’s called micro-meditation, and it puts up a tough challenge to these meditation nay-sayers. With each practice fitting in to an existing daily routine, or taking less than two minutes to complete, it’s pretty hard to say you don’t have time for micro-meditation.
Drawing on the human tendency towards ritualistic behaviors, micro-meditations transform everyday actions into opportunities for physical + emotional healing. Like rituals, micro-meditations can be performed in large communal settings, completely alone, or anywhere in between.
HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO MICRO-MEDITATE—NO SITTING REQUIRED:
- Washing Dishes
Yes, even washing dishes can be a meditation if you make it one. Especially for those of us who wouldn’t typically enjoy this task, doing a micro-meditation while scrubbing can be a great way to learn how to find peace in any According to the Wall Street Journal, researchers have found that mindfully washing dishes can significantly reduce nervousness and increase mental stimulation. To try it for yourself, pay close attention to your senses: observe the smell of the soap, the temperature of the water, and the feel of the dish. When your mind wanders, gently guide it back to the task at hand.
- Going to the Gym
Is going to the gym (or another form of exercise) already part of your daily routine? If so, try incorporating a breathing micro-meditation into your workout. At a comfortable pace, inhale for three counts and then exhale for three counts – repeat for several cycles. The focus on breathing will bring mental focus + calmness, and reduce anxiety.
- Riding the Elevator
A lot of guided meditations ask participants to visualize riding an elevator – so why not take advantage of the awkward silence of your actual elevator rides by doing a micro-meditation? On the first floor, pay special attention to your feet. Observe how the ground is moving beneath them, and scan for any discomfort. Let your focus point rise with each floor: first to your legs, then torso, chest, arms, neck, and finally, head. Breathe deeply at each floor. As you exhale, imagine a wave of relaxation washing over the body parts of focus.
- Morning Reading
If the first thing you read in the morning is on your phone, you might want to reconsider. Business Insider reports that checking your phone right when you wake up can actually sabotage your productivity, causing you to focus on negative thoughts such as what you missed yesterday. Instead, pick up a book of daily meditations and turn to a random page. Reflect on the meaning of the passage you chose, and return to the passage throughout the day.
- Riding the Train
It’s quite common to be frustrated by your fellow train passengers, especially those who are too close to you, chewing loudly, or having long phone conversations. But letting these frustrations simmer can be toxic for your mood. Instead, picture yourself near a shallow pond with a beautiful assortment of lily pads. Associate each lily pad with a negative thought about your fellow passengers. As each lily pad floats towards you, push it gently away from you and watch it float away. Feel the peace that results from letting go.
The average person takes 10,000 steps a day—that’s 10,000 opportunities for micro-meditations! Researchers at UC Berkeley have designed a perfect walking meditation to help you step into mindfulness. Give it a try!
- Taking a Shower
Use your shower as a time to clean your mind and your body. As the water runs over you, let it wash negative feels away. Replace those negative feelings with gratitude: gratitude for your hot running water, gratitude for your body and all that it does. Carry that gratitude with you throughout the rest of your day.
- Drinking Coffee
Instead of reading the paper or scrolling through your phone while enjoying your morning cup of coffee, try clearing the table and your mind by simply being mindful of your surroundings. Scan for any sounds or sights that come and go. If you find your mind wandering too much, guide your attention back to the act of sipping.
- Taking a Bathroom Break
If you frequently find yourself getting lost in the day, using your bathroom breaks as a cue for micro-meditations is a great way to stay calm, focused, and relaxed even with a busy schedule. After you wash your hands, take three long On your last breath, exhale for as long as you can, feeling your diaphragm deflate. Your next breath will send fresh, oxygenated blood throughout your body, recharging your mind for the work ahead.
- Sitting in a Meeting
Believe it or not, a task as simple as consciously listening to those that are speaking in a meeting can be a centering micro-meditation. To try it for yourself, just gently guide your thoughts back to the person who is speaking whenever you feel your mind begin to wander. You may be surprised at how frequently you are tempted to drift!