12 Most Powerful Ways to Meditate Quickly at Work
I had heard about the benefits and real power of meditation. Studies had even been done and, for crying out loud, it was helping cancer patients. But it seemed so spooky and ethereal. It certainly never seemed practical.
I thought I couldn’t learn how to meditate. I had some idea it took a retreat under some Master in the forest. I thought I didn’t have the time to slow down – especially at work. But something still called me to it. I couldn’t get away from it. I knew viscerally there really was something to it.
I got the best advice. I was told I was already a student by being curious. I was told there was only one thing to remember and I could start right now: It is not about clearing the mind of thoughts – that is impossible. The mind naturally moves from one thought to another. I could try “to not think” but would quickly learn that it was silly. When my mind did wander during meditation I was only to notice it – pay attention to the drifting – and simply come back. Now I could start. It was now dumbed down and easy for my frenetic mind.
Now you can start right at your desk. They are all less than 5 minutes.
1. Observe the breath
This is the simplest – most effective – form of meditation. Stop what you’re doing as if to signal to the body that a change is about to occur. Rest your feet flat on the floor. With eyes open or closed slow your breathing. If you are at work it is probably somewhat labored. For a few minutes just pay attention to your breathing. Watch it. Notice your chest, abdomen, shoulders rise and fall.
2. Smiling meditation
Okay. It sounds cheesy. And this may not be for you. But at work we are focused, tense and sometimes even scowling. For just one full minute stop what you are doing. Set your feet flat on the floor. Then… smile. It’s kind of funny. Don’t force it. When it feels unnatural, pause. Try it again.
3. One word mantra
Position your feet again. Pick a word. It’s probably a good idea for it to be positive. At work, I like the word peace. Calm your breathing. At least for one minute say the word in your mind. Pause for a second. Repeat. The mind will wander. So what. Just come back to your word.
4. Walking meditation
This one’s pretty cool. If you can get out of the office on break, go! Steady your breath. Begin to walk. The trick in this one is to pay attention to your feet as they meet the ground. If you have to step up, notice the knees and how they work. Observe your gait. Move your thoughts to your hips. Then go back to your feet. You’ll see how you never noticed walking and contact before in this way.
5. Musical meditation
Pick a cool tune. Who says it has to be oceans and birds? I like jazzy beats. Even songs with lyrics. Plug in. Check out. And only observe the harmony, beats and lyrics. You have just meditated.
6. Body focus meditation
Set your feet. This meditation is a right-where-you-are scan of the body. Put your focus on the crown of your head and observe that area. Move your attention down to the upper neck, shoulders, throat, chest, armpits, elbows, solar plexus, hips and groin, (even the hind quarters), thighs, knees, legs, ankles, toes. You’re done. If you have time, go back up.
7. Observing the listener
Think about calls you are taking, coworkers chatting, and bosses lecturing. Ask yourself, “Who is doing the listening?” It will be tempting to say no one is but… somehow this immediately takes you out of the external and gets your focus back “inside”. Try it a few times. The click inside is neat.
8. Observe all the noise
Sit still and take at least two minutes to listen to the office. In your hearing catch the fax, the kerplunk of the soda machine, cars on the road, Janet smacking her gum, and the airplane overhead. You just came back to the moment. You meditated at work.
9. Holding the deep breath
If the office is super insane today you might be tempted to take in a big gulp and not let it back out. Take heart. It will get better. By deeply breathing in, holding it, then slowly letting it out, the office antics may not have changed – but you have changed. You might need several, concentrated cycles but you’ll get cleaned up inside.
10. “I am” mantra
I am… fill in the blank. Pick two or three. I started with, “I am making a lot of money.” But I matured recently to, “I am successful in my work today.” Steady that breath and repeat them in your mind’s hearing for a few minutes.
11. Mindfulness exercise
Take the next five minutes and be mindful of every action. As you pick up the pen, notice it. Observe it make contact with your fingers. Be mindful of the keys on the board and the pressure in your fingertips as you press. Focus on the coffee as it connects with your mouth when you drink. Focus on how the screen flickers and papers feel in your hand. You are no longer that robot you feel they pay you to be, you are present and aware of it all.
12. Naming meditation
I admit this one might hurt. With practice and with sincerity it gets kind of cool though. Once you’re settled go around the office mentally and name your coworkers in your thinking. After you say their name attach a wish of wellbeing or success: “Peter Toole. I wish him success in his review. Tammy Fickler. I wish her health and freedom from anger.” Do the whole office. Be careful when you get to the boss. Now, I don’t know if this does anything for them at all. I do know – without doubt – it changes you and over time you may start to be less unnerved by their chaos.
You don’t have to do them all, just try them as you feel comfortable. And please share some of the methods that you enjoy. How are you finding calm and focus in your workplace today?
Featured image by Wonderlane licensed via Creative Commons