“I move through life with grace and ease, and time expands to meet my needs.” A wise acquaintance once relayed that mantra—and it holds special significance in today’s fast-paced world. It may feel like you spend your days running from Point A to Point B with nary a spare minute to breathe, but a study out of the University of Pennsylvania shows that carving out a mere 12 minutes a day to do just that—intentionally breathe—can go a long way toward improving your mood. In addition, meditating can help you get better quality sleep, show more kindness towards others, and reduce inflammation.
Here are a series of mini-meditations you can call on throughout your day when you’re feeling frazzled and need to find your center.
Greeting the Day: Set an Intention
Meet the day by sitting quietly in a chair with your feet firmly on the floor to ground you. Staring straight ahead, take three deep breaths and begin to envision the morning washing over you, taking with it any residual stress or anxiety that might be bubbling up. Pay close attention to your breath and visualize how the day will unfold for you, setting your positive intention. Stay centered in this space for a few more minutes, then stand and finish by standing and stretching your arms overhead; or, if you like, do one sun salutation.
Commuting with Consciousness: Let Go
To avoid the bubbling of negative emotions that often come with a traffic-packed ride to work, return to your breath and tune into your senses. Every time a negative emotion bubbles up, acknowledge it, release it, and focus on something that ignites your senses; i.e.: the grounded feeling of sitting or the smell of fresh air coming through the window.
Midday Mindfulness: Practice Discipline
When you sit down to eat lunch, do it with intention and resist the urge to gulp it down and get on with your work. Carve out 20 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your meal. Say a small prayer of gratitude for the food you are about to enjoy and make a point of chewing each bite and breathing in between. You’ll also want to make a point of purposely putting your utensils down on occasion. Eating in this manner requires discipline, but it helps you find a restorative center to your day.
Bedtime Sequence: Show Yourself Compassion
As you get ready to go to bed, try this calming ritual which is especially beneficial if your mind has a tendency to race. Lay on your back and take several deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Starting with your feet and moving up to your head, check in with all the points of your body, noticing any sensations, moving them slightly, and consciously releasing any tension you are holding. It’s unlikely you’ll make it as far as your head before you’ve drifted off to a deep sleep.