Five Steps to Stoplight Meditation

Posted by Mallika Chopra

The mental and physical health benefits of meditation are endless. Even taking a few moments to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing can significantly reduce your body’s stress response, keeping your blood pressure low and your immune system strong. There’s evidence that regular meditation can be just as effective as anti-depressants in treating clinical depression.
 
So why aren’t more people meditating? One reason may be that people simply don’t know exactly what meditation entails. Another reason may be the most common excuse people give to nearly everything: “I don’t have the time.”
 
Martin Boroson, author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness For People On The Go, knows a thing or two about adding meditation to your daily life, even for those with a busy full-time job, kids, and keeping up with the bills.
 
For people who don’t know where to begin with meditation, he recommends focusing on the rhythm of your breathing to center yourself. No need to worry about mantras, correct sitting positions, or ceremonial bells.
And for the people who claim they just don’t have the time, he offers these five steps to meditation no matter how crazy your day may be.
 
1. Micro meditation. Though meditation may conjure images of Buddhist monks sitting in caves for hours at a time, meditation can literally happen in just one moment—like those 30 seconds when you are waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, or those few minutes waiting for the receptionist to call your name at the doctor’s office. Even if you take just 10 seconds of your time to close your eyes and focus on your breathing at your desk before you open your e-mail inbox, those 30 seconds will go a long way toward keeping you centered for the rest of the day.
 
2. Right here, right now. Though it may help to have a regular spot at home to get into the groove, you really can meditate just about anywhere, anytime. In the car, at your office, in your bed, at a restaurant, on the plane, in the presence of large crowds or all by yourself. No matter where you are, you can take those mere 30 seconds to bring your attention back to your breathing and realign your thoughts.
 
3. Channel that stress. Are you freaking out about an upcoming project, your lack of sleep, paying the bills, or whatever else is on your plate? Use your high level of stress as an excuse to meditate right away before you lose control. As Boroson says, “There is no situation—other than a true emergency—that can’t be improved by a moment of meditation.”
 
4. Find “gap time.” We all like to say we’re busy. But there are probably many small bundles of time you’re wasting too. The next time you are stuck in line for something or trapped in bad afternoon traffic, use that “gap time” to meditate instead of fiddling with your smart phone or aimlessly checking your e-mail.
 
5. Use “gift time." When things take less time than expected, use some those moments to meditate. Though we often don’t pay attention when this happens, sometimes things really do take less time than expected—speedy traffic during traffic hour, say, or an hour-long conference call that ends in 40 minutes. Invest in that saved time by meditating. Increased mental focus, reduced anxiety, a more optimistic outlook, and a heightened sense of intuition are some of the many mental health benefits you’ll begin noticing when you meditate regularly and often, even when you’re super busy.

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