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  • 6 Mini Meditations That Can Keep You Sane

    driving me crazy

    We all have those days where there’s not enough time and everyone’s getting on your last nerve. On days like that, it can be hard to think straight, be productive, and not completely stress yourself and everyone around you right the hell out.

    So, what do you do when you need to stay focused and/or look professional while trying to reign in your urge to strangle someone? Never fear, I have 6 mini meditations you can do pretty easily that will help calm you enough to keep you out of both prison and the unemployment line.

    1. Red Light Meditation – Great for non-expressway traffic stress. This is a visual meditation. To do it: Each time you’re sitting at a red light, gaze at the red light. Notice if the color is uniform or if some areas are brighter, darker, or a different shade than the rest. Just watch the light and notice if the light is swaying or still. While you’re gazing at the light, let your breathing slow and let any thoughts that enter your consciousness simply pass on through. When the light turns green, bring your attention back to traffic and drive a little more calmly and safely than you did before.
    2. Breathing Meditation – You can do this one anywhere. To do it: Simply pay attention to your breath. Notice how the air feels entering and exiting your nostrils. Notice if your breathing is shallow or deep, but don’t try to change it. Notice if you’re breathing slowly or rapidly, but again, don’t try to change it. Notice the thoughts that come into your head, then let them go. Don’t worry, the important or annoying ones will be back so there’s no need to hang onto them or make a story out of them.
    3. Evil Genius Meditation – Great for insufferably long (or just insufferable) meetings. This is a tactile meditation. To do it: Put your fingertips together like you’re an evil genius who’s just devised a brilliant plan to take over the world. Pay attention to what each finger pad feels like. Are any of them wrinkly feeling, rough, smooth, dry, or sweaty? How do they feel against each other? Do they slide easily over their counterpart (i.e. right index finger over left index finger)? Contemplate the feel of your fingers instead of the frustrating nature of whatever’s going on and everyone will think you’re considering the conversation or your work thoughtfully, instead of fighting back boredom, tears, or violence.
    4. I Heard That Meditation – This is great to do in noisy environments; I like to do it when one or more noises is driving me to distraction. As you may have guessed, it’s an auditory meditation. To do it: Simply listen to the sounds around you, then pick one to pay attention to. Which sound you choose doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you pay attention to it. Notice the variation in pitch, volume, and complexity of the sound. Is it a single sound or is it made up of several sounds together? Does the volume and/or pitch vary, or is it constant? While you’re listening to your chosen sound, let your breathing slow and let any thoughts that enter your consciousness simply pass on through. Sometimes I choose a sound that’s pleasant, like bird song, and sometimes I choose a sound that’s been annoying me, like the bass from the neighbor’s loud music that’s been interfering with my ability to focus on writing a blog post. I find this particular meditation can help filter out the cacophony of sounds in a busy, noisy place and assist me to find my center again so that I can focus on whatever I’m supposed to be focusing on.
    5. What’s That Smell Meditation – Great to do when a smell, or smells, is driving you to distraction, like when someone puts popcorn in the microwave at work, or the combination of odors from somewhere is unpleasantly distracting. This is an olfactory meditation. There are 3 variations on how to do it: 1) When it’s just one smell, like popcorn, concentrate on it, rather than trying to ignore it. Examine everything about the smell: Is it complex and actually made up of more than one odor? Is there an aspect to the smell that isn’t appealing when you concentrate on it? While you’re concentrating on the smell, let your breathing slow and let any thoughts that enter your consciousness simply pass through. 2) In the case of odor combinations, like a cafeteria, concentrate on the overall smell and notice all the smells it’s made up of. Pick one of those smells and concentrate on just that one. Notice everything there is to notice about it. Is it bitter, sweet, spicy, woody, etc.? Does the concentration of the smell change in relation to the other smells? While you’re concentrating on the smell, let your breathing slow and let any thoughts that enter your consciousness simply pass through. 3) Find something else that’s aromatic and concentrate on its smell instead. Suggestions: package of mints, flavored/scented lip balm, essential oil, perfume, or scented lotion. As with numbers 1 and 2, notice everything about the smell. Concentrate on that smell until you smell that item to the exclusion of all other smells around you. While you’re concentrating on the smell, let your breathing slow and let any thoughts that enter your consciousness simply pass  through.
    6. Mix It Up Meditation – When one sense is totally distracting you, try doing a meditation that focuses on a different sense. For instance, do a visual meditation when someone puts popcorn in the microwave. Instead of looking a red light, as in number 1 above, you can look at anything you’d like and simply notice everything about it; the way light or shadow is playing on it, any color variations there might be, etc. Or, you could do an olfactory meditation when the noise level is distracting. Find a pleasant odor in the air (or in something you have, like a pack of mints or essential oil), and notice everything about it just like you did in the What’s That Smell Meditation. Mix it up in whichever way feels right at the time.

    You don’t have to do any of these for a long time; a couple minutes is usually enough to bring your mind back from the brink and allow you to focus again. The beauty is, if you start to lose it again, you can just do another mini-meditation. You’ll find that you’ll always be able to do at least one of these, and more often than not several will be a possibility at any given time.

    Now it’s your turn. Try one of these meditations the next time you’re annoyed or distracted (or both) and tell me how it went in the comments.