There exists an idea that practicing meditation requires total quiet, a funky meditation cushion, a statue of Buddha and lots of time. While these accoutrements can add to the experience, they are by no means necessary. The beauty of meditation is that it can be practiced without any tools at all, but rather can be utilized no matter where you are. Here are a few easy moments of mindfulness you can find at home, at work or on the road.
1) Experience your morning cup of coffee/tea. How many of us have a daily ritual of drinking something warm and caffeinated first thing in the morning? Why not chose to make this experience one of presence? Hold your mug in your hand and close your eyes. Take three breaths to describe to yourself what the cup feels like to you. Is it heavy, warm, cold, smooth, rough, textured? Open your eyes. Take three breaths tuning your senses of smell and sight to the liquid inside the cup. What does it smell like? Is it steaming? What color is it? Be aware of what you are drinking not as merely coffee but as an olafactory and visual experience. Finally, take a sip with your eyes closed and truly be mindful about how you take in this beverage. Feel it in your mouth and throat. Swirl it around your teeth and tongue. Notice how awareness of this very common practice changes when you go slowly and observe every stage of it.
2) Do not stress the red lights and traffic. On our way to work or an appointment we inevitably come upon some delay whether it be a traffic jam or hitting a red light when we need a green. Instead of meeting these pauses with resistance, see them as gifts of moments to be present. While you sit in traffic practice long exhales, lingering a few extra counts on the out breath. At the red lights notice whether you are gripping the steering wheel and release a bit of that tension with a deep breath. While waiting for the light to change or the traffic to move offer Metta, or loving kindness, to the other driver as they may also be feeling stress in the delay. Say to yourself: “May they be happy. May they be healthy. May they be well. May they be at peace.” Offer these blessings to yourself as well.
3) Stand tall and connect to the Earth. On a day when things feel really out of control, stand up at your desk or in your yard and invite in connection to the Earth. Lift each toe one by one and lower them in the same fashion. Feel the ball and heel of your foot connected to the sole of your shoe or if barefoot, where they touch the ground. Feel the strength of the Earth rising through your feet and into your whole body. Notice that connecting to the Earth not only provides stability when you are wavering, but a sense of being part of a bigger thing. These qualities can minimize the stress of chaos and a feeling of connection when work can otherwise feel isolating.
Mindfulness can be accessed by anyone, anywhere and at any time. We just need to remember that many of the tools employed by this practice are ones we have within us. Utilizing mindful moments can help make stressful, chaotic, and common moments powerful.