Adopting a meditation practice doesn’t require you to make any significant changes to your schedule. It’s also supremely easy.
The meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg is a proponent of the philosophy, “Short moments many times.” The aim isn’t just to have a ten or fifteen minute period every day, but rather to replace the “empty” time in your day with one or two-minute moments of quietness.
Mark Thornton, self-described as the world’s first corporate meditation coach, says: “In my work as an executive meditation coach, I’ve found that even the most successful people have one to two hours a day they can spend creating calm, building energy and de-stressing. For example, even the busiest people shower in the morning, commute to work, have lunch, sit in the back of taxis, walk down streets, have moments before and after meetings, walk from meetings to other meetings, and travel home from work. All are profound opportunities to experience calm.”
We can usually identify a handful of these “spare moments” during our own day. The next step is simply to familiarise ourselves with a handful of techniques that we enjoy. Added together, these little periods can significantly enhance our feelings of calm and connectedness in our day-to-day life.
This method is based on the one that is outlined by Herbert Benson in his book the “Relaxation Response.” It is always best to find techniques and practices that you find enjoyable.
1. Seat yourself comfortably with your eyes closed and your hands resting in your lap. Your spine should be comfortably straight. Whilst a quiet place is optimal it is not absolutely necessary.
2. The meditation is based on the repetition of a mantra. This can be any word that you find suitable, although one or two-syllable words work best. “Peace,” “Love,” “Joy,” “Jesus,” and, “Peaceful,” are all good examples. Repeat the mantra as you breath in and out. It can be said silently to yourself or whispered on the breath.
3. Inhaling say, “Peace.” Exhaling say, “Ful.” Simply repeat this process for as long as you wish.
Alongside a regular practice, short snippets of presence can yield tremendous benefits. Make a list to see if you can locate any “unused” moments – time in the shower, getting the train to work, your lunch break – that you can use as opportunities to foster mindfulness. The following techniques are all appropriate for these tiny pauses:
Coherent Breathing: As a scientifically-research technique, coherent breathing has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure. It simply involves inhaling to a count of five (breathing in, two, three, four, five) and exhaling to a count of five (breathing out, two, three, four, five). Breathing in this way has been shown to activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system.
2 Minute Body Scan: A body scan is type of meditative practice that involves focusing on different parts of your body and consciously relaxing them in turn.
Begin by focusing on your feet, moving up your shins and thighs, your buttocks, your lower back, your belly and chest, your arms and hands, and finally your face. Whenever you focus on a body part spend a few seconds breathing relaxation into it.
Belly Breathing: This technique is especially good for emotional control because, like coherent breathing, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Simple sit with your back straight and breath deep into your belly, in and out, all the time keeping things relaxed and gentle.
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