Some of these meditation techniques are found on our guided meditation CD, “Guided Meditations for Busy People.” Most take no more than eight minutes and can be fitted easily into a busy schedule. The CD liner notes emphasize that these techniques encapsulate principles that can be integrated into daily activities as well as being practiced on the meditation cushion.
If you’re very busy and perhaps rather stressed, then you’d really benefit from working through the in-depth meditation instruction that you’ll find elsewhere on this site, but you may well be in urgent need of some “meditative first aid” to get you through the next few days until you can create the time to come back and thoroughly explore Wildmind. So for now, here are a few relaxation techniques that you can use to quickly relax in order to get through the day as a happier individual. You can do these exercises anywhere, anytime.
1. Centering breathing
Several times a day, stop, sit in a relaxed position, and breathe deeply and slowly into your abdomen for two or three minutes. If your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to your breathing. Slow, deep breathing has been shown to promote relaxation. In addition, focusing on your abdomen has a calming, centering effect. It will help if you really let go on the out-breath. There is a natural phase of relaxation that takes place every time you exhale. By paying attention to this phase of relaxation you encourage your body to relax more deeply, and this in turn has a calming effect on your mind.
2. Mindfulness triggers
Create a mindfulness trigger for yourself. This is something that reminds you to relax. It could be an action, like putting the phone back on the hook, or closing your planner. Every time you do this action, take a deep in-breath and then let it out, noticing how your muscles relax. The tension will probably tend to creep back again somewhat, but by repeating this exercise you’ll get better at letting go of physical tension and find it easier to achieve a relaxed state.
More information on mindfulness triggers and how to set them up can be found in our section on mindfulness in daily life.
3. Peripheral awareness
Spend a few minutes doing the peripheral awareness exercise. This simply involves letting your gaze fall naturally on an imagined spot on the wall in front of you.
As you keep your focus lightly on that spot, begin to take your awareness to the edges of your visual field. You can even imagine that you are “seeing” behind you, and developing 360 degree vision.
As you become more aware of your peripheral vision, you’ll notice that your body begins to relax, that your mind becomes quieter, and you may even notice certain sensations in your hands or feet.
We’ve posted a six minute YouTube video with a relaxation exercise.
Or you can listen to this MP3 version by clicking on the player before:
4. Project a protective sphere
Project a protective bubble around yourself. Imagine that there is a kind of force field surrounding and protecting your body. This protective bubble can create a calm space that outside events can’t penetrate. I’m not saying that there really is a protective bubble around you, but your subconscious mind doesn’t distinguish between imagination and reality, so you’ll feel that you’re protected.