Studies show that a whopping 46.9% of the typical person’s day is spent on auto-pilot; mindless existence. Not being mindful of your thoughts nor actions is fertile breeding ground for chronic stress to creep in. Most of us are operating from our Sympathetic Nervous System (the one in charge of fight or flight) as we are striving to fit more and more into our schedules.
Obviously, mindfulness and meditation’s ability to ground and focus people is crucial to employ for successful and, more importantly, happy and healthy lives. But, if you are like most people, you are thinking there’s NO WAY there is room for “just sitting there” for hours on end. This is true; a mindfulness practice that adds another thing to your busy to-do list is the last thing you need.
What if there was a 60-second Mindfulness/meditation practice you could do anywhere, any time, with no “props” that can physically switch your body into operating from the Parasympathetic Nervous System? (The one in charge of rest and digest). Certainly, you could find a time, or even a couple in your day to give your body and mind the “reset” it so badly needs. It also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. This simple and quick exercise has immediate mental and physical benefits.
- Start by sitting up nice and straight, on the edge of whatever you are sitting on, not slumped back into your chair.
- If this is new to you, it may be helpful to put your hand on your belly to be sure it’s filling up with air.
- As you inhale, focus on “sending” your breath to your hand; your belly should fill up like a balloon. Shoot for a 5 second inhale; a nice and slow one, and a 5 second exhale, pausing at t he top and bottom of the breath for 1 second.
If it feels very strange and impossible at first, do not let that discourage you. We all knew how to belly breathe as babies. We forgot how to around Middle School, so you are not alone in finding it difficult at the beginning.
Doing just 6 of these breaths physically shifts you into your Parasympathetic Nervous System and allows you to move on with your day more focused, clear and calm. This mental “reset” actually makes you more productive with your limited time.
The hardest part of this exercise is remembering to do it. It is helpful to tie it to something, like every time you get into your car; (you could even do it while you’re driving), or use the restroom. My favorite practice is to do it right before seeing my next client; this helps me close the book on my last client and grounds and focuses my mind for my next one so that I can be fully present. It is also a great way to put your work day behind you; try doing it in your car just before coming into the house.
Life is an experiment; be a scientist! Try this simple and quick technique for just 2 weeks and see what heppens. We’d love to hear your experience, let us know what it did for you!