Meditation For Dummies
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You might find mindfulness meditation is a great way to start your workday. By the time you arrive at work in the morning, you may already be feeling stressed out. After a hectic hour or two preparing the kids for school or haggling with your partner or dealing with some emergency at home, followed by a commute through rush-hour traffic, you may have gotten your workday off to a harrowing start.

Here’s a meditation you can do at your desk or workstation to help begin the day right. (Of course, if you can do a little mindfulness meditation before you leave home, you can get a jump on handling your stress.) Hold off on checking your emails or consulting your to-do list. Instead, set aside five minutes or so to ground yourself in the present moment and tune into your sensations.

  1. Begin by closing your eyes and taking three or four deep breaths through your nose. Inhale deeply, and allow the exhalation to be as long as your body naturally wants it to be.
  2. Rest your attention on the coming and going of your breath. Let go of controlling your breathing and allow it to settle into a natural rhythm. Be aware of the sensations at your nostrils as you inhale and exhale. Alternatively, you can notice the sensations of the rising and falling of your chest and belly as you breathe. If you find it helpful, you can say the words inhale and exhale silently to yourself with each in-breath and out-breath.
  3. As thoughts and feelings wash over you, keep coming back to the breath. Despite what you may have read or heard, meditation is not about trying to stop your thoughts and feelings, but about allowing your thoughts (and feelings) to come and go without getting lost in them — and, when you do find that you’re lost, coming back to the breath.
  4. If possible, notice which thoughts keep recurring and which thoughts are the most stressful and upsetting. Again, no need to stop the thoughts. Just notice, and allow plenty of space for them to pass through without judgment or resistance. Practice noticing thoughts and coming back to the breath for five minutes or as long as you like.
  5. Deliberately turn your attention to your most pressing concerns at work. After you’ve spent some time noticing thoughts and being aware of your breath, you can experiment with welcoming the thoughts, plans, ideas, and feelings that cause you the most stress at work. Play the edge between getting caught up in them and stepping back from them and returning to your breath. Notice whether they lose some of their stressful charge.
  6. Let go of your meditation and turn your attention to the job at hand. Notice whether you feel any different than you ordinarily do at the start of the workday. Are you more centered? Do you feel more spacious and less contracted? When you find your head filling with stressful thoughts again, you can pause and be aware of your breathing for a cycle or two. Or you can set an alarm that goes off every hour to remind yourself to return to your breath.

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Stephan Bodian is an internationally known author, psychotherapist, and teacher. He leads regular intensives and retreats and offers spiritual counseling and mentoring to people throughout the world. His bestselling app Mindfulness Meditation (with Mental Workout) has been praised in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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