Curious about meditation but never found the time to do it? Wellbeing writer Rae Ritchie offers four simple ways to start – whether you have 2 or 20 minutes
Most of us know that meditation lowers stress and improves our health, but trying to fit it into our busy schedules can sometimes have the opposite effect. The good news is you don’t need to clear an entire afternoon or book an expensive retreat to reap the benefits – research by Leeds Beckett University found that just 10 minutes of mindful meditation a day could significantly reduce anxiety levels.
Better yet, you can do it anywhere, anytime – even during your morning commute. Here, writer Rae Ritchie offers four easy ways to make meditating your new healthy habit…
1. 2-minute de-stress at your desk
Studies have shown that deep breathing, also known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’, can help you feel calmer by lowering your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s subtle and easy enough to do at your desk in between tasks. Yoga teacher Alisa Burns recommends this easy 2-minute belly breath technique:
- Begin to slow down each inhale and exhale, focusing your mind on your breath.
- Inhale for a count of four to six, consciously drawing your breath into the belly, rib cage and upper chest.
- Exhale for a count of four to six, breathing out from your upper chest, rib cage and then belly.
Think of it as a quick refresh and recharge.
2. 5-minute morning concentration
If you have difficulty focusing throughout the day, Burns also recommends trying concentration meditation. This involves focusing your attention on an object, such as a photo or a candle, or something abstract, such as a quality you’d like to cultivate.
To get started, sit, stand or lie in a quiet area. Perhaps wake up five minutes earlier and do it when your home is quietest. Then, set a timer, rest in a comfortable position and turn your focus to the object or thought. It’s a tricky exercise to begin with – your mind will inevitably wander – but by performing this routine each morning you’ll help to challenge and strengthen your concentration.
3. 10-minute mindful walk
To de-stress and increase your steps, try a meditative walk. “It’s estimated that approximately 90% of our attention is taken up with our thoughts, leaving just 10% of attention for our bodies,” says Catherine Morey-Nase, a mindful meditation teacher. Consciously focusing on our body’s movements and the way it feels will help it to relax.
It’s easier to do than you think, try these simple steps:
- Next time you’re heading off for a short stroll, leave your phone in your pocket and take a few moments to tune into your surroundings and yourself.
- You can do this by paying attention to the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. Feel the sun on your face or the breeze against your skin. Tune into the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you.
- Look up – explore the sky, the patterns in the clouds, the trees or buildings above. Look down – notice shadows, colours, and textures on the ground.
- Listen closely – pause to enjoy a few moments in silence. Tune into the sound of the wind, birds in the trees, the voices of other people walking.
Allowing yourself this time to be present rather than scrolling or talking on your phone has an incredibly calming effect, and can help you feel more relaxed for the rest of the day.
4. 20-minute guided meditation
For those of us who like to be very productive, your commute can feel like wasted time. A guided meditation is a great way to achieve something before you get to work and will help decrease the stress of commuting. Apps such as Headspace offer on-the-go mediations of 2-20 minutes that are specifically designed for moments throughout your day – from your journey to work to doing the housework. All you need to do is plug in your headphones and follow the soothing instructions.
Keen to meditate but still think that you’ll struggle to find the time? Take a look at our advice on how to create more ‘me-time’, even when you’re busy.
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