More and more of us are recognizing the benefits of meditation, but the idea of twenty minutes at a time is rather daunting. The idea of two such pauses in the day is beyond our comprehension. Fortunately, research shows that even mini-meditations throughout the day can have huge health benefits.
A few days ago I came across this excellent article with six ideas for pauses throughout the day, that enable us to relax in the present moment and renew ourselves. It started me thinking – what are the events of the day that are most likely to prompt me to pause and meditate? Here is the list I came up with.
1. Shower meditation.
Shower time can be the prefect opportunity every day to rest in the moment. It is a great metaphor for washing away the past and cleansing the mind. Notice the temperature of the water as you step into the shower, and the feel of its spray on your skin. Lather the soap and breathe in its fresh fragrance. Imagine it washing away your broken places and bringing healing to your open wounds. Watch the water disappear down the drain and imagine your anxieties disappearing with it. Imagine that the stress from your fears, worries, and problems is flowing away, out of your body and down the drain. Take deep cleansing breaths as your cares float away.
2. Walking meditation.
Most of us spend some of our day walking – whether it be as a deliberate form of exercise or just the necessity of getting from place to place. I have become very aware of that over the last few months while my walking has been inhibited by a painful foot. Yet it is easy to take that walking practice for granted.
Focus your attention on the act of walking. Stand still for 30 seconds before you begin. Stretch your muscles, take some deep breaths in and out. Take notice of your steps as you walk – are they strong and vigorous or halting and hesitant? Do they reflect your love of life or your cares and worries? Take notice of where you walk – of the cracks in the pavement and the weeds that grow, of the people you pass and the vehicles that drive by. Dwell on the experience of each step and the journey it is taking you on.
3. Let Go meditation.
The constant swirling of anxieties and worries in our minds are often what make it impossible for us to relax. Find a quiet place to sit, put your feet flat on the ground, have a straight back, and take a deep breath. Imagine it soaking deep into your lungs, your bloodstream and throughout your body. Let your breath go and quietly repeat to yourself: Then quietly repeat to yourself: “My body is at ease and relaxed” Take another deep breath and quietly remind yourself: “my heartbeat is normal, my mind is calm and my spirit is at peace. Keep repeating this until you have let go of the tension and felt your body relax. Take another deep breath and smile!
4. Have a Mindful Tea of Coffee Break
Leaving our desks and spending a few minutes in the kitchen to make a hot drink can provide a nice break. If we add mindful noticing, this time can feel even more enriching.
Turn the process of making tea or coffee into a meditative moment by slowing down every action, even if it’s only slightly. Choose a scripture like “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9) to repeat while you prepare your drink.
When you reach for your mug, treat it as if it’s something precious. Notice how it feels in your hand – is it cool, or warm from the dishwasher or sink? Notice how the tea bag feels when you pick it up and place it in the mug. Watch how the boiling water pours into the mug, and how the tea bag starts to turn the water a rich brown colour. Or grind your coffee and savour the rich aroma of the beans. Pour water into your french press or other coffee maker and watch it change colour. Pour it into your mug and once more savour its rich aroma before you drink it.
Noticing each individual step of the process can help us appreciate the present moment more. Instead of seeing this time as meaningless, as just a necessary thing to do in order to create a drink, we can use this time to remember that every moment can feel like a special git from God, even the seemingly mundane ones, if we just take time to slow down and notice.
5. Eat with Mindfulness and Gratitude
About a third of workers eat their lunch at their desks, and a quarter admit to answering emails or using their work phones during lunch. Separating the eating of lunch from our work, is an important and often intentionally relaxing and refocusing process.
If possible move away from your desk – preferably out of the office, though probably not in a crowded restaurant. Sit on a park bench. Begin with a prayer of gratitude, possibly with the words “Jesus you are the bread of life”. Look at your lunch and appreciate the fact that you have something to eat. Admire the colours of the food. Notice how it smells before taking a bite. Then as you eat it, focus on how it tastes, and how the texture of it feels on our tongue, gums and teeth. Doing this, even just with the first two or three bites, can help our lunch feel more satisfying, and may also help us feel a little more in control of our time and our experience in the moment, rather than feeling that we are in a never-ending rush.
6. Bedtime Meditation.
Taking a few minutes to relax and commit the coming night to God is becoming an important mini-mediation for me. I keep the prayer to welcome the night that I wrote last week on my bedside table. I sit in bed, relax my body, take a few deep breathes in and out and say the prayer quietly. I sit in silence for a minute allowing the anxieties and worries of the day to surface. I commit these to God then say the prayer again before turing off my light for the night.