Picture yourself sitting cross-legged, index finger and thumb together, chanting “om.” That’s definitely one way to meditate—but it’s not the only way.
You don’t need to close your eyes or even hold still to focus your mind and relax. And you don’t have to find a quiet place either; you can meditate at your desk, in the kitchen, or even on the subway. Here’s your mini guide to getting your Zen on almost anywhere.
Walk This Way.
Some spas have labyrinths. But according to the Greater Good Science Center, all you need is a somewhat secluded lane or hallway. Use it to walk 10 to 15 paces, pause, and take a few deep breaths. Repeat in the opposite direction, focusing your attention on how your feet move and your bodyweight shifts. Notice the sounds you hear and the sights you see. Continue for about 10 minutes. You can also try a running meditation, applying the same principles as you move more quickly.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
Standing at the sink could help you relieve stress. In a study published in the journal Mindfulness, people who washed dishes mindfully—smelling the soap, noticing the temperature of the water, and feeling the suds—were more inspired and less nervous afterward than those who tuned out while doing the chore. The next time you’re on dish duty, use it as an opportunity to chill out.
Follow Your Fitbit.
The Relax app, available on certain Fitbit devices, offers 2- and 5-minute guided breathing sessions tailored to your heart rate. Feedback helps you focus—the more sparkles you see, the more in sync you are with the guide—as does the fact that notifications are automatically disabled during each session. Try it when you’re stuck on hold, waiting for soccer practice to end, or killing time between appointments.
Pull a Proust.
In his novels, Marcel Proust goes on an epic trip down memory lane over a small shell-shaped cookie. Paying similarly close attention to a finger food (aka “raisin meditation”) could enhance mindfulness. Start by holding it in your hand and noticing what it looks, feels, and smells like. Next, place it in your mouth, chew very slowly, and notice the taste and texture. Finally, swallow, taking stock of how your body feels as the food moves toward your stomach.
Go Belly Up.
When we’re stressed, our breath tends to be shallow, which explains why you might tell yourself to “take a deep breath” when you want to calm down. To get your breath out of your chest and into your belly, try this exercise from the University of Michigan: Put one hand just below your ribs and the other on your chest. Breathe into your belly through your nose, letting it expand while your chest stays still. Breathe out through your lips, then repeat up to 10 times. You can do this when you first wake up, at bedtime, or even in the conference room before a big meeting.