Mindfulness meditation, or the practice of focusing on your surroundings and breathing, has become a trend among busy adults to try and ease their stress levels. While there are plenty of apps that can offer guided assistance, you don’t necessarily need software to clear your mind—all you need is five minutes. Kick off your mindfulness practice by incorporating meditation into one of your daily routines.
YOUR MORNING COFFEE
Gloria Chadwick, author of Zen Coffee, says that the energy boost provided by caffeine doesn’t mean you can’t relax while you sip a cup of joe. Having your morning cup would be a good time to prepare yourself for the day ahead. Focus your thoughts and hone in on your senses by taking note of the rising steam, cream swirls, how warm the cup feels, and the taste.
If you’re always eating lunch in a rush, try to slow down and pay particular attention to what you’re eating and how you’re eating it. Savoring flavors and taking your time can not only help you relax, it might also lead to weight loss.
YOUR AFTERNOON BREAK
You don’t always need to be sitting down in order to practice being in a meditative state, so take a stroll when you find your mind wandering in the mid-afternoon. Going for a walk can be a great way to get exercise while soothing your mood. Start with a short session of seated meditation—experts recommend 20 minutes, but do what you can—and then slowly begin to rise from your chair. As you do, take stock of the way your body feels—any stiffness or tension you might have. While walking, keep a slow and steady pace and pay close attention to the way your shoes hit the ground.
After your work is done, try to avoid hopping on the phone or blasting music in the car. Instead, drive in relative silence, paying attention to your breath and clearing your mind so you don’t bring the day’s hassles home with you.
If you take public transportation home—meaning you won't be behind the wheel—use this time to check in with your body. Starting with your head and working your way down through your toes, notice where you might have different sensations or muscle strain. Don’t flex or try to react to it—just note it, breathe deeply, and release the tension.
[h/t New York Times]