Meditation for the very, very busy

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.

15 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for the youtube video, as I couldn’t get the previous file to work.
    The first time I tried peripheral awareness I was surprised at how much I relaxed. I’ll try to incorporate it into my meditation practice and my daily routine. Thank you.

  • hi i found that periferal vision excercise really good in reducing anxiety i suffer from and i read up on it and it can be used throughout the day all day long in fact from driving a car to watever, my question is that could this vision be used while doing activities in mindfullness eg washing dishes or even obseving taughts or would it hamper increasing awarness , i hope this question makes sence , thank you eamon

  • Hi Eamon,

    I agree that this can be used throughout the day. Maintaining an awareness of the whole of one’s visual field can be an important support for the practice of mindfulness in daily life. I’m not sure why you wonder whether it might hamper your awareness — it’s quite the opposite, I’d have said.

    All the best,

  • […] even better when other sensory modalities (listening, our spatial senses) are involved. You can read more about the peripheral vision exercise and listen to a guided exercise elsewhere on this […]

  • thanks for the reply guys this has really helped clear up a few thing for me thanks

  • Thank you for sharing! I have been performing visualization exercises involving a deliberate increase in field of vision. Last night I was able to achieve a 360 degree dome which was absolutely amazing and challenging. Also tried creating a sphere field of vision looking IN, as if looking at an object from all angles…this will definitely take some time to develop!

    • That’s interesting, Robb. Could you say more about this “sphere of vision looking in”? What, precisely, are you doing?

  • .I have been meditating for a week. I have learned the first lessons of meditation from wikipedia. As it suggest I used to count inhalation and exhalation at a time. Few minutes after doing so I felt a shivering on my head. heart beat raised and i could hear the sound of it. also I felt some pulse on my eyes.

  • […] mentioned a technique called “peripheral vision meditation” to maintain composure under stress.  He talked about posture and power positions and showed the […]

  • […] way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system is to stare straight ahead while focusing your attention on your peripheral vision . Spend a few minutes concentrating on what’s happening on the edges of your eyesight. The more […]

  • […] way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system is to stare straight ahead while focusing your attention on your peripheral vision . Spend a few minutes concentrating on what’s happening on the edges of your eyesight. The more […]

  • The effect #3 (peripheral awareness) has on me is almost immediate. It’s incredibly relaxing. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really practiced it before but I will remember it next time I need a moment to calm myself.

  • Thank you for guiding this peripheral vision exercise. Completely new to me. Most effectively done, I thought. Will try to use thIs exercise…. Ruth Whetsel

  • Wow, I studied tai chi to alleviate stresses from my daily routine for the past 8 years. The benefit to tai chi is that it has a self defense application as well, but the negatives at times can outweight the benefits.
    From listening to your teachings of Buddhist meditation as well putting them into practice, I can see a great combined affect of meditating before tai chi, as well as the extra attributes added by “casting” the sphere during my sessions.
    That, combined with the natural alleviated state of perception while in the mindset of tai chi, proves that meditation is a sound, universally non-bias form of inner communication and monologue. Both of which create a fluid, and controlled state of mind.
    By providing what you have to the rest of the world you are further enforcing the unity of Buddhism, while providing useful coping mechanisms and tools for the rest of society.
    Your efforts are not in vain, as is proven by the commenters. Your efforts are greatly appreciatted.

  • […] way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system is to stare straight ahead while focusing your attention on your peripheral vision. Spend a few minutes concentrating on what’s happening on the edges of your eyesight. The more […]


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