Do you want to meditate but never seem to be able to find the time?
Don’t give up. Meditation’s many benefits are worth pursuing, even if you have to use your so-called time “popcorn,” those random and free moments such as waiting in line that spring up here and there throughout the day and make us instinctively look for a distraction.
There are so many reasons to meditate. The workplace has become a breeding ground for stress, anxiety and depression, three afflictions that meditation can ease. Smartphones have shrunk our attention spans to sub-goldfish levels; meditation can help us focus. And meditation can ease pain, help us sleep better, control impulsive reactions, and improve our relationships.
But most of all, meditation helps us live our lives as they’re happening, not as background music to thoughts of the past and imaginings of the future.
Here are five easy yet powerful meditative moments that anyone, no matter how busy, can fit into their day.
1.) At a light, breathe and savor. Ever feel the urge to reach for your phone at a stoplight to scan your email or send a text?
In some places, even just touching your phone to turn off an alarm while your car is on the road can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for a first-time offense (plus a three-day driving suspension and more).
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Rather than reach for your phone, take a deep breath and scan your environment for something pleasing to look at — or double up on the meditative impact by combining it with the next meditative moment.
2.) Make a ‘happiness wish’ for others. This simple practice has resulted in countless cases of “my best day at work in years.” Whenever you encounter someone new, say to yourself, “I want this person to be happy.” Not only will you short-circuit a knee-jerk reaction to view others with a critical mind, but with each person you encounter, you’ll be cultivating an aura of kindness that, if he or she is attentive, this person will be able to sense.
If you can wish happiness for everyone you see in a day, you will get the same mood-elevating benefits as a formal meditation session in compassion, during which you imagine a wider and wider circle of humanity and wish them all well. Compassion meditation always begins with yourself, so while you’re wishing happiness for others, be sure to take a moment to wish for your own happiness.
3.) Wake up and smell the coffee. Do you remember tasting anything today — or did you scarf down your food and drink while you were busy doing something else?
Food is a pleasure that deserves to be savored. You’re eating anyway, so why not take a moment to smell, taste and feel the sensations that your food gives you? Savoring your food is wonderfully worthwhile and can change the way you approach a meal.
4.) Become more aware of your own body. “He lived at a little distance from his body,” begins James Joyce’s “A Painful Case,” the tragic story of Mr. Duffy, a man who never paid attention to the world around and within him. Many of us would prefer to be all “orderly minds without nuisance bodies” that repeatedly impose their needs on us and interrupt our productivity. But when we cut ourselves off from our bodies, we cut ourselves off from what Joyce called “life’s feast.”
If you can feel your left hand — which is not insignificant — you can also start “inhabiting” other parts of the body, which can become a welcoming place of mental rest.
5.) Just breathe. This is the simplest and most portable tip of all. Take a deep breath into your belly — and let your attention follow your breath as feel your belly rise and fall as breathe out.
It only takes a few breaths to signal your body to relax, recharge and energize.
Try one of these meditative moments, notice how it makes you feel — and soon you’ll be seeking out opportunities for more meditative moments that, sown together over the course of a day, will have a positive effect on your well-being.
Lynne Everatt is a recovering MBA, a LinkedIn “top voice” in management and culture, and a nominee for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor for her first book, “E-mails from the Edge,” a novel with the theme of workplace mental health. She is a former careers columnist for Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and is a certified personal trainer. With Addie Greco-Sanchez, she is co-author of the new book, “The 5-Minute Recharge.” To learn more, visit 5minrecharge.com.