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A 10-Minute Breather – Yes, We Can All Use Some Zen

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Stressors may appear from just about anywhere. The question is can we release the steam before the lid pops off?

The best time to meditate is whenever we can. I’m guilty. There always seem to be responsibilities tugging for my attention, and “more productive” things to do with my time, and before I know it the day just gets away. But you know what? I’ve realized that meditating is more approachable than I thought, and all I really need is 10 minutes to receive benefits.

And the benefits are many. From improved sleep, reduced stress levels, the ability to lower blood pressure and improve digestion, meditation promotes a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Of the many ways to meditate, perhaps the most straightforward is concentrating on your own breath. Anywhere, anytime. Here’s a 7 step primer to help you get started:

1. You Deserve This

Feeling as though there is not enough time in the day to even set aside 10 minutes for self care may just be the biggest sign of all that you need this. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, it’s hard to take the time to slow down. 10 minutes can make all the difference.

2. Get Cozy

Find a comfy spot, somewhere you feel most calm. I enjoy the support of a chair in a dark room, but others may prefer to lie down on their backs, or to be outside. In a pinch, when out, it’s even possible to find quiet in a parked car under the shade of a tree. Any space where you feel comfortable and relaxed, and where you’re able to take time to yourself, is perfect.

Woman sitting on her yoga mat cross-legged with her dog

3. Find your Breath

Bring attention to your breathing – the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest, belly or shoulders. Don’t make an effort to change it, simply begin to notice the pace of your breathing, the depth of your breath, and any sensations that may be associated. Let your gaze soften and when you are ready, close your eyes.

4. Check In

Acknowledge your senses. Do you notice a particular smell or sound, or the feeling of a warm breeze? Do a full body scan. Begin by bringing awareness to the tips of your toes. Are they relaxed or tense? Work your way all the way up to the top of your head. If you come across an area where you feel you are carrying tension or discomfort, try to breathe into that spot and then let the energy in that spot settle.

Woman resting on a couch

5. Relax

With your eyes still closed, allow yourself to enjoy long, deep breathing. Silently count your breaths starting with 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhale, 4 on the exhale, and so on, up to 50 or when you feel you are ready to end. That’s it, that’s the work. Your sole focus is to just breathe.

Thoughts may bubble up as you relax, and this is totally normal. If so, simply bring your focus back to your count. If you loose track at any point, don’t worry, you may choose to either pick up from near where you think you may have left off, or if you prefer, begin from the top.

6. Prepare to Finish

Bring your focus back to your body. Begin to notice yourself in your surroundings. Notice how your body is making contact with the seat or ground. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll your shoulders and gently point and flex your toes. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.

7. Congratulate Yourself

Well done! You did this – 10 minutes of self care. Capture the feeling that you have created within, and bring it with you throughout the rest of your day. And know that when things get overwhelming, which will happen, you have the tools to find a quiet spot and turn inward to regain calm.

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