Everyday mindfulness

How to unplug on the go

Want to meditate but don’t have time? Follow these daily fast fixes from meditation and well-being experts to find calm in a frantic life

7am: start as you mean to go on

“Finding time to meditate is difficult for all of us. Let’s face it: life is busy. There’s an old saying that if you can’t find 10 minutes in your day to meditate, you probably need 20 minutes!” says Dr. Megan Jones Bell, chief science officer at guided meditation app Headspace. “As a mum, I find that if I get up a little bit earlier than my one-year-old, I can fit in my daily meditation practice, and it sets my day off in the right direction.”

 7.30am: have a power shower

“If you feel too busy to meditate, try meditating in the shower – it’s already part of your day so no extra time is required,” says Christi-an Slomka, community manager at mindfulness app Calm. “Often the mind is tangled up in a mess of past regrets, worries about the future and demanding to-do lists. So, instead of giving your attention to these thoughts (you likely already give them more than enough time), shift your awareness to the sensation of showering.

“If you get distracted by your thoughts, don’t worry, that’s normal. Your job is to kindly invite yourself back to your inhale and the exhale, the sound of the running water, the scent of your soap, the temperature, and the feeling of massaging your scalp with shampoo. Spending time in the present moment like this will help you to develop the ability to concentrate when you need to focus, settle your mind when you need rest, expand your perspective and tune into the wisdom within.”

8am: breakfast mindfully

“Just a take a moment to stop and notice where you are right now. Engage your senses one at a time,” says meditation teacher Sarah Presley . “What can you taste? Can you taste your toast? What is your coffee like? What can you smell? Is it strong or faint? Does it remind you of anything? What can you touch? How does it feel: rough/smooth, cool/warm? What can you see around you? Take in the shapes and colours – does anything stand out? What can you hear? Is it a constant or intermittent sound? Congratulations! You have just been completely in the present moment.”

8.30am Calm your commute

When you sit down on the bus, subway or train, direct your attention to all the various sounds around you,” says Anna Wikfalk, mindfulness expert at The Mindfulness App. “There’s no need to judge, or evaluate the sounds, rather see if you can be curious of the different qualities of the sounds – high/low, sharp/soft etc. Just rest in the landscape of sounds. ”

9am: Find your feet

“One of the quickest and most effective mindfulness hacks is to consciously feel the sensations of contact between the soles of your feet and the ground,” says meditation teacher and therapist Maggie Richards, author of A Guide to Being a Better Being. “Be curious about this one aspect of your present moment experience. You should soon find yourself feeling more grounded and clear headed. Practice this throughout the day, sitting, standing, walking, and you’ll enjoy new levels of clarity and calm.”

12pm: Become body aware

“The best way to start unplugging is just where you are, sitting reading this article!” says Rohan Gunatillake, creator of Buddhify. “If as you read this you can be aware of any tension in your body or how your hands feel, then you are already starting to practice. That is known as body awareness and is a really fundamental technique for developing sensitivity, balance and stability.

“Meditation is something you can do anywhere and everywhere. The best way to introduce mindfulness into your daily routine is to pick a time of the day when you’re able to practice. When you are going out for lunch, for example, slow down and notice your step and what’s going on around you. Perhaps start noticing people and send them kind thoughts. Wish them well with a loving kindness mantra such as ‘may you be well, may you be happy’. This helps us take time away from our own personal storyline, work on connection, kindness and opening up to what’s around us.”

4pm: Soothe work stress

“Difficult day? Left to its own devices, the lower or ‘monkey mind’ is generally negative: ‘he talked too loudly’, ‘she wasn’t helpful’, ‘I’m tired’! etc. Yet, you have a choice: get stressed by your stress or empower yourself with positive thoughts,” says Richards. “Look for the good in and around you. Try it now. Notice the comfort of your seat, someone’s beautiful smile, a colourful pair of shoes, the blue sky above … Now notice how, with time, your inner world starts to lighten and relax. One simple switch in attitude, practiced regularly, can truly uplift your day.”

Used with permission from Alice Whitehead

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