5 ways busy people meditate

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Sunday, November 22, 2015 

under Health by Kenny Ong


Meditation has a growing body of research to back up its mental and physical benefits, but people are still reticent about taking up the practice. Either the aura of hippy-dippy spiritualism and lackadaisical slow-life turns them off, or they worry about not having time.
    You don't have to give up workoholism and meat, or seek enlightenment, to reap the benefits of meditation. No tents, incense, or special poses required. Just find a comfortable position and five minutes of your time.
    Here are five easy, every day ways to meditate.


1. Focus your attention

When you're eating a piece of toast, concentrate on its toastiness—the slight burned smell, the faint nutty taste, the rough crust on your lips, the crunch as you bite and chew. Believe it or not, that's meditation—or 'mindfulness', a more secular buzzword for meditation—to focus your total attention on something small, simple, not on a screen, and unrelated to work.
    Focus is the core of all meditation—and the biggest challenge for meditation's beginners. Thoughts—about things other than that piece of toast—worm their way into your brain, and it can feel frustrating, like you're failing. The solution is to not resist distraction. Accept it as inevitable, not a failure, and let the distracting thought take its course.
    Then refocus on that piece of toast, or anything, really—potato chips, tea, whatever. It’s a break from focusing on 20 different projects, and will recharge you for them. It's a break that lasts as long as a piece of toast—so not that long—but it makes a huge difference in your day.


2. Meditative Breathing

Perhaps you want carb-free meditation. I'm pretty sure air has no carbs, is even pesticide free, but not organic or vegan. Or maybe you just don't have any toast. Either way, meditative breathing is perhaps the simplest and most effective form of meditation. All you need to do is focus on inhaling…and exhaling, at a relaxed pace, in any relaxed position.
    As you focus on this basic, non-automatic function of life, all its worrisome complexities will fade to the back. If you'd like to keep track of time without checking a clock or setting an alarm, you can count your breaths and set a limit, as little as 10 or as many as 100.

3. Bodily Meditation

Take that same bare bones, just-focus-on-one-thing approach to meditation, and apply it to your entire body, but one part at time. Start at your head, to your face, where you can relax that fake smile, and so on, all the way down to your feet—your weight pushing down on your feet, on your socks, on your shoes, perhaps on the metro car's floor as it rattles and bumps along. Or maybe that bunion, and how it rubs against the inside of your shoe. And then focus your way back up.

4. Meditative Walking

This form of meditation is difficult because you have to focus on the whole act of walking—your breath, your body, and the will to put one foot in front of another. More spiritual use involves labyrinthine paths that give something else to focus on. Otherwise, this is probably the most convenient form of meditation. You can meditate on your way to the bathroom. And then meditate even more while you get comfortable in the bathroom.
    You shouldn't walk in meditation through the streets of Shanghai, though. That's likely to get you killed.

5. Mantra Reptition

Another way to narrow your focus is through mantra reptition. Of course there are plenty of spiritual mantras out there, but you're not limited to them. A mantra can consist of whatever works for you, really.
"You got this...You got this..."
"All is well...All is well..."
"Where's the beef...Where's the beef..."
Mantra's go great with meditative breathing, as you can time the saying with each exhale, and each exhale is more focused and drawn out by the saying. Just make sure you do this in relative privacy, unless you don't care if people think you've lost it.

--


Life's pace is only getting faster. Your brain juggles 20 worries and responsibilities at a time, even on the days off, and that seems to be the way to get ahead in life, but at what cost, and for what reason? So you can WeChat the silk sheets of your hospital bed?
    Take at least five minutes a day to slow down, recharge, and think about things other than work. Your body, your mind, and your work will thank you.

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