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5 mini mindfulness methods that you can do anywhere

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An hour of meditation each day would probably transform your consciousness. But, well, we know what your work calendar looks like.

Which is why we took to the mantra of Vedic Meditation master Charlie Knoles (pictured at right), who says there are small ways to minimize the stress of sardine-packed subways, deadlines, and whatever else worries you.
Charlie Knoles
Knoles is the director of the Veda Center in Venice, California, and has been meditating since the age of four. He currently teaches classes from Manhattan to Bali, rubbing elbows with wellness celebs, as he totes his Zabuton around the world.

And although he really wants you to learn the unabridged version of meditation some day, he shared five baby steps for getting a start on the road to inner calm right now. —Amanda Benchley

Photo: ThomKnoles.com

 
5 Minute Meditation1. A Five-Minute Meditation

For beginning meditators, Knoles recommends a basic five-minute practice.

Sit down, close your eyes, and focus on something like your breath, an image, or a word—“one” is a popular choice—and simply allow your mind to drift, returning to your focus when you need to.

Knoles compares this exercise to brushing your teeth, an essential habit that should be done at least once a day to clean (and clear) your brain. But unlike brushing your teeth, you can try this anywhere, anytime.

Knoles estimates that 70 percent of his New York students regularly meditate while riding the subway. So what's your excuse again?

Photo: Weheartit.com

 
Woman Breathing 2. B-r-e-a-t-h-e

It’s easier said than done, but there’s a reason that slowing your breath calms you down. When people are stressed, they tend to take sharp, short breaths. Our nervous systems are wired so that inhalation is linked to the stress response and exhalation to the relaxation response, explains Knoles. Taking a short inhale and emphasizing a long exhale helps prevent classic stress responses (like adrenalin rushes or insomnia) from kicking into gear.

Photo: Pinterest

 
Hand in Water3. Harness the Hand-Mind Connection

Stress exists for a reason: it notifies your body that you're in a dangerous situation. (Although it's kind of overused these days.) Still, stress has physical symptoms—it can make your heart race, and it also pulls the blood out of your toes and fingers and sends it to your internal organs, says Knoles.

So as a calming practice, he suggests immersing your hands in warm water (rubbing them briskly together also works in a pinch) to open up the blood vessels and trick your brain out of its stressful state.

Photo: Pinterest

 
Woman's Arms Stretched4. Un-tunnel Your Vision

“Anytime you’ve done something stupid, it’s usually because you’ve been in a heightened state of stress; the physiological response to stress gives you a single point of focus and you can’t see any other option,” explains Knoles. Playing with your peripheral vision helps your mind expand, so it can think of other possibilities. Here's how: Extend your arms to your side in a T-formation and wiggle your fingers. Then slowly bring your arms forward until the fingers are in sight, and then extend them out again.  Repeat.

Photo: Weheartit.com

 
Woman Listening To Music5. Tune In and Tune Out

Knoles agrees with the studies that show that listening to music can change repetitive thought patterns. “It doesn’t have to be classical, just something you like,” he says. But loud sounds can trigger stress responses, so Knoles advises that you decrease your exposure to noisy environments. If that’s not possible as you roam the city, wear earbuds—nobody will know they aren’t plugged into your iPod!

Photo: Weheartit.com

9 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. February 13th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Another wonderful brief instruction by WellandGoodnyc.com. I have been regularly meditating since 2001 and now I am also teaching mindfulness, meditation and stress reduction to medical and other health professions students, as well as to the general public. I can attest from my own personal experience that it is often very hard to form the habit of meditation and especially hard to do it for greater than 10 minutes every day. So I teach my students several tricks — some of which you’ve included here. I also urge them, when they are stressed to “take 5″, meaning to stop doing what they are doing. It can be for 5 seconds or 5 minutes. I encourage them to find a private space (such as a toilet stall) for that brief respite. In addition to breathing, I urge my students to borrow from the more advanced Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen where they visualize seeing themselves as the stressed person. Then inhale the stress from that side of themselves and exhale comfort, ease and loving kindness to themselves. Breathing in this way for just a few seconds is remarkably healing.
    MarkG

  2. February 13th, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Love this article, and will be putting these tips to practice. Thanks! Hopefully one day I will master mediation :-)

  3. February 13th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Great tips for all…Especially using peripheral vision,using it has the power to expand your consciousness as well as heightening your intuition!
    Dr. Sherri

  4. February 14th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Great list, and I’d never heard the peripheral vision one before! Excellent!

  5. February 16th, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Whoa! Number 4 really helped me a lot! – I can;t believe I’ve been tunneling my vision with so much focus on the stressors.

  6. February 20th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    number 3 is so interesting! i have a nervous habit of rubbing my hands together when i get stressed out… now i know why!

  7. February 21st, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I like the 5 minute meditation bites. I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and have used mindfulness as one of my healing tools.

  8. February 26th, 2013 at 9:02 am

    nice article and good tips. i also like a quick traffic light meditation for when you get held up at a red light. apply the handbrake, take hands and feet off everything, stare at the red light and use the time to let go of any tension with a long, slow out breath.

  9. November 12th, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2013/02/12/5-mini-mindfulness-methods-that-you-can-do-anywhere/

    I cant seem to read the text about the article because it seems to be overlapped with more text so it is not legible and looks as if there was a mistake or even virus??

    My sister subscribes to this magazine and I feel like I will be apart of your continued bliss! & Thanks for the gre8 411 !

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