Monday Not So Funday?
How do you feel on the way to work on Monday mornings? Irritable, anxious, contemplating why a three day weekend has never been introduced or all of the above?
How Can You Damn The Blues?
What can you do to feel less stressed and how can you achieve this on a packed tube jammed with equally irritable commuters?
Below is a 5-step guide to a short meditation exercise fit for all. If you’re a busy city-dweller with only five minutes to spare daily, this is for you. Whether on the bus, taking five minutes out from your office on a park bench or even in a toilet cubicle, this is as user friendly as it gets.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation focuses on calming the mind through observing all thoughts and feelings but letting them go so that you can focus on the present moment.
Why Should You Try It?
Long-gone are the days of meditation being something only hippies do. You may not be surprised to hear that London commuters are reportedly the ‘most anxious people in UK’. You may be more surprised to learn that stress costs employers a staggering £460m a day.
Stress is the dark side of our ‘have-it-all’ lives, which, if left unchecked, can cost you, your relationships and your sense of self more than you may care to contemplate. If you are a city-worker who tenses up the moment you leave the house for work, this simple stress-reducing technique is something you really should try.
What Do The Experts Say?
The good news is that just five minutes’ meditation a day can have a huge impact on your sense of balance, reducing stress, anxiety and depression. A leading neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin studied eight of the Dalai Lama’s most accomplished practitioners and found that meditation not only alters the brain in the short term, but also produces long-term, permanent change. In other words, the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine.
It’s therefore a no-brainer that taking time-out from the commotion of the mind is essential. Even if this is meditating on the bus to work.
How Does It Work?
Follow these five steps every morning on your way to work this week and watch your stressful state gradually shift into one of calm. Ideally, team this with calming music (see examples below):
- Close your eyes and slowly inhale in through your nose. Imagine you are pulling the breath inwards from the back of your throat. Listen to the sound of your breath as it passes up through your nose along the top of your windpipe. Visualise the breath moving into your body and feel your body relax as you gently exhale. Do this a few times, concentrating on relaxing your shoulders, arms and feet as you do so.
- Once you’ve established a comfortable flow of breathing, turn your attention to your feet. Keeping your eyes closed, imagine a wave of red moving slowly from the tips of your toes up through your feet and legs. As you do so, keep concentrating on your breathing, regulating the motion of the red as it moves up over your knees with your breaths.
- When the red reaches the tops of your legs, visualise the colour changing to orange, moving slowly up through your lower abdomen to your tummy button. Then watch it turn yellow, moving gently up to the mid-point of your torso. As the colours change, keep concentrating on your controlled breathing, imagining your breath pushing the colours gently up through your body.
- As the yellow reaches your mid-torso, watch it merge into green, moving slowly up to chest height where it shifts into blue. Keep breathing in a deep but controlled manner, using the sound of your breath to concentrate your mind.
- As the blue reaches the bottom of your neck, imagine it turning purple, rising up through your head until it reaches the top. Finally, imagine a bright white light pouring northwards high above your head. Watch it shower down the length of your body all the way to your feet cleansing your body, mind and soul as it does so.
Here are some examples of calming musical accompaniments. You can download yoga or meditation music on I-Tunes for free.