A 5 Minute Meditation When Waking Stressed

September 8, 2009 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

I was recently quoted in the London Evening Standard regarding a short meditation for busy people. The paper ran a page on things that distracted and stressed multi-taskers can do to gain mental clarity in their busy day. The bit I wrote for the paper was heavily edited, so I thought I should have another go at it.

The idea was to propose a meditation for people who were so busy that they didn’t have any time whatsoever to meditate. What I suggested was the following:

Stressed and busy people often wake up with their heart racing and their belly all a-flutter. It is the adrenaline coursing through their body that shocks them into wakefulness. It’s not a good idea to get out of bed in this state of anxiety, so I suggest a 5 minute meditation technique that can be done in bed to calm the mind and body before getting up.

If you wake like this, lie back in bed, gently stretch your arms and legs out a little from the body (in corpse pose (Sivasana), keep your eyes open (to avoid going back to sleep) and just breathe gently and evenly through the nose. Try to take deep even breaths that go into the belly rather than the upper chest. Stare up at the ceiling and try not to be distracted by thoughts. If thought arise (which they will) just let them pass, do not attend to them or give them any mental energy. If you can do this for 2-3 minutes you should start to calm your nervous system, slow down your heart beat and stop the butterflies in your belly. If you have the time, take long enough in this breathing meditation for all those relaxations- heart, belly, nervous system – to take place.

At this point, being more relaxed, you can now direct your thoughts to the tasks ahead of you. Deal with each task one by one. Decide which task is most important to do, which is least important, which can be deferred, which ones can be combined, which can be delegated to others. Spend a couple of minutes working out an order and schedule that makes sense to you.

You are now ready to get out of bed and face the day. It might be a good idea to write down your tasks so you don’t need to clutter your mind with them. But in any case you should have a clear idea of what you need to do, and a calm mind and body with which to do them. The more often you do this meditation, the easier it gets to do, and your mind and body soon get habituated to this new regime. That is, your mind and your body memory both begin to recognise this type of deep breathing as the trigger to a relaxed state and so your system moves into that state more easily and quickly.

This is the real secret of breathing meditation. We always assume that meditation is something we do in a specific meditation pose, usually a cross-legged Lotus posture. There is no doubt that this posture, allied to a peaceful space and sufficient free time, will give the best results for meditation. But real meditators take the tranquil mind and relaxed body that they get from sitting meditation out of the meditation room. They try to keep that tranquil mind while they are brushing their teeth, eating, taking the tube, walking, working on a computer, talking with others and so on.

This is also something you can do. If during the day you get upset, angry or stressed, just sit down, stop what you are doing, close your eyes and just begin breathing as you did in bed. A few deep and even breaths reminds your body and mind that you want to enter a relaxed state –  and you will.

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Entry filed under: Age of Anxiety, breathing.

Two Problems In Meditation (an article I have written) Unfrequently Asked Questions

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