3 Meditations To Get You Through A Trying Day
More than just a stress reliever, research shows that meditation has the potential to transform everyday interactions by physically changing the structure of the brain and how it reacts to stimuli
We all have days when everything seems to be going wrong. Before long, we find our emotions starting to spiral out of control. Fortunately, meditation is a great self-help tool that we can use to feel better by regulating our mental and emotional states.
Research has shown that even short bursts of meditation can rewire our brains, enabling us to be more resilient and better able to cope under duress. So instead of letting yourself get caught up in a cycle of anger, fear, or irrational thoughts, steer yourself back to a positive place with these simple meditation techniques.
THE SCENARIO: I FEEL STRESSED OUT THE MOMENT I STEP INTO THE OFFICE
Sky Gazing, a traditional Tibetan meditation technique to feel release from the narrow confines of the personality or ego. Short, accessible, and easy-to-do anywhere (even if you’re sitting in front of the computer), this meditation will quieten your busy mind and help you to feel more grounded. Use it whenever you feel overwhelmed or swamped by the clutter of mental fatigue.
Ideally, you would do this meditation outdoors in nature, but if you’re indoors, that’s okay too. Find a window, look out, relax your body, and allow your gaze to expand into the spaciousness of the sky. Silently repeat the “ahhhhh” sound (it’s the most open sound you can make to amplify the feeling). Let go of all thoughts and allow them to pass by like clouds, while you feel your awareness slowly merge with the space before you. As you sit in this state for a few minutes, fully focus on your breath going in and out. Sense your unity with nature and be absorbed into the big picture of how we are surrounded and sustained by the natural world. Rest your busy mind as you release and cast your worries into the expansiveness of the sky.
If you’re not near a window (or worry that others will think that you’re daydreaming), substitute your computer screen for the sky and rest your attention on the perimeter of the monitor instead.
THE SCENARIO: MY COLLEAGUE/BOSS/BEST FRIEND/IN-LAW/HUSBAND IS DRIVING ME NUTS!
Mindfulness Meditation for Compassion and Acceptance. Recognise that we cannot control the actions of others, but we can control our own thoughts and actions. Ask yourself: do you want to choose to give others power over you by letting their actions dictate how you feel, or do you want to empower yourself by reclaiming your time and mental space? Rather than continue to get caught up in a vicious cycle, being mindfully aware allows us to choose our course of action – and that begins with our thoughts. Mindfulness is a practice that can be incorporated to benefit all areas of our life.
Begin by noticing your feelings. Quietly acknowledge and say to yourself, “Right now, I feel _______, and I am safe”. Start inhaling more slowly, and extend your exhales. If it helps, try counting your breaths: 1, 2, 3, 4 (inhaling) and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (exhaling). Imagine each out-breath releasing what you don’t need, and drawing in fresh energy with each in-breath.
Replace thought patterns of judgement and criticism with positive affirmations like, “I am doing my best, I allow myself to be at rest. Everyone is doing their best, I allow myself to be at rest”. Affirmation jingles of positive thoughts that rhyme, are a fun and helpful way to rewire thought patterns, as they can easily get stuck in your head in a (positive) loop!
THE SCENARIO: MY PLATE IS OVERFLOWING AND I FEEL OVERWHELMED AND ANXIOUS! HELP!
Kundalini Yoga Meditation for Emotional Balance. “When we’re upset, particular attention should be given to the body’s water balance and rate of breathing,” Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher, Rie Komiya, explains. “Your breath connects you to your nervous system, and breathwork is an effective self-help technique which uses the flow of breath to clear your mind and help you to feel calmer.”
Start by sitting in Easy Pose on the floor or on the chair. Keep your spine straight, your chin lightly tucked in, both hands in Gyan Mudra (a hand position that helps to facilitate inner wisdom by connecting the thumb to the index finger) on your knees, and your eyes gently closed. Chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to begin (this mantra means “I bow to infinite wisdom. I bow to my own wisdom.”) Next, drink a glass of water, and place your arms across your chest, locking your palms under the armpits. Keep your palms open and pressed against the torso. Now raise your shoulders up tight against the earlobes and pull your spine straight up from the back of your head, drawing your jaw inwards and upwards. Your breath will automatically slow down. Continue for three minutes.
“Rhythmically slowing down your breath to only four breaths per minute, keeping your body hydrated, and tightly locking the entire upper torso (by pulling the shoulders up towards the ears), gives indirect control over the mind. With this practice, your thoughts will still be there, but they will not be felt”, says Rie. Take your practice deeper over time by gradually increasing the duration of your practice to 11 minutes.