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8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen adage

What’s the most common excuse you make as to why you don’t meditate? If you’re like most people, it’s time.

Meditation takes time – precious minutes that most of us perceive ourselves not to have. However, this is only an issue if you perceive meditation in a super-traditional sense. For example, you must meditate for an hour each day, in complete silence, in a sitting position. We think of ancient sages sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, serenely zoning out beneath an old beautiful tree. Who has time for that? This idealized image is certainly discouraging, considering the pace of our modern day-to-day life.

But if we were to suspend all preconceived notions about what meditation is, and what a “successful” meditator looks like, we could break through that stale barrier of “not enough time.” Here are a few unconventional meditations for a busy lifestyle.

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1. The Board Meeting Meditation

We don’t often associate meditation with productivity, but a Japanese study suggests that we may want to start. The findings of the study, conducted by the Kyoto Convention Bureau, showed that 10-minute meditations before work meetings led to better concentration and an increased ability to absorb new information. So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is

So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is
better understood and remembered.

2. The Lunchtime Leisure Meditation

Do you ever find yourself talking or worrying about work on your lunch breaks? This can barely be considered a true break. Instead of working straight through lunch or rushing out to meet a friend for gossip, try eating your lunch more mindfully.

Turn off your phone, sit somewhere with a decent view, and simply eat – or adopt a mindful journaling practice during this time. While your mind may wander, simply returning to the taste of your food and the scenery around you can serve as a rejuvenating meditation.

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3. The Laughing Meditation

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but this is not just an anecdote. When you laugh, your body’s level of the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced. The key to laughter meditation is not to hold back, to allow yourself to laugh out loud and without guilt. Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a

Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a three-staged guide to laughter meditation.

4. The Driving Meditation

Many people who commute to work see their travel time as lost time, especially if they spend it in traffic. However, an uninterrupted period of time in your car is actually the perfect excuse for a longer, more focused meditation. You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound

You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound of the engine is a kind of meditation few recognize and practice.

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5. The Clean Sweep Meditation

Much like in the case of driving, cleaning is an activity that we sometimes dread and take for granted. It’s not a whole lot of fun, and cleaning jobs seem to constantly pile up around the house – the yard, the dishes, the laundry, etc. While it may seem less glamorous than that idealized image of a zen meditator, cleaning is a meditation used by some of the greats. Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

6. The Neutral Listening Meditation

Many of us would be quite surprised to recognize the calming effect of just listening. Typically chaotic and stressful environments can be transformed with this detachment trick. This is especially useful for those who hate their work or home environment, which may be filled with loud voices, traffic noises, or other sounds that continuously unground us.

However, even if you are listening to a conversation between two coworkers, there is an option to detach. Instead of frequently looking for the meaning in each sound in your environment, simply practice hearing. For the first time, you may recognize birds chirping outside. Maybe the shrill sound of a car horn honking won’t be as troublesome as it usually is. This is a powerful way to solidify a habit of meditation, as it requires nothing but the recognition of sounds around you.

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7. The Traveller’s Meditation

You don’t need a pile of cash and a plane ticket to practice this style of meditation. It simply rests on the belief that in nature, we can more easily find ourselves. The hum of a stream or the simple sound of silence on the front porch can serve as a reset – an experience that takes us out of ingrained habits and puts us back in alignment with nature. Your version of

Your version of traveling meditation might be taking a new route home from work, taking your lunch break at the park, or even just taking a walk to a new store. You don’t need to travel around the world to receive the benefits of the outdoors.

8. The Gazing Meditation

This meditation is specially designed for busy folks and requires nothing but your eyes and a focal point. It has been reported that staring into the flame of a candle – or even better – the eyes of another person can have radically beneficial effects. However, even if you are stuck at your desk, simply choosing a focal point and softening your eyelids can help quiet a tensed nervous system and bring you back to a sense of peace.

Another recommended gazing technique involves closing your eyes and looking up at the third eye, or the middle of your forehead. While scientists are still uncertain about the true function of the third eye, many have experienced its transformative effects. A third eye gazing meditation can help you generate new ideas and move through challenging problems during the work day.

As we know from research studies, meditation is associated with a shift in brain wave activity. Thus anything that can reduce stress and bring about a content level of focus is beneficial, and technically a kind of meditation. Use your imagination to begin implementing these and other creative meditative techniques for grounding and clarity.

Featured photo credit: grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com via grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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