So here we are—the holidays are over and you’re left with five extra pounds, no extra dollars and a resolution list that looked way more attainable a few days ago. All that, plus the resumption of regular life in all its madness. Fortunately, there are some easy brain-calming meditation methods for keeping sane in an insane world, year-round.
GET A LEG UP. Lie down on the floor with your butt as close as possible to a wall so that you can extend your legs up the wall. If necessary, for comfort, you can place a bolster or cushion under your butt and/or move a bit farther from the wall. You can also bend your knees as much as necessary to alleviate any hip flexor or lower back discomfort.
Once you are in position, just… breathe. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. When thoughts crowd in (and they will), let them pass in and out of your mind, and redirect your attention to your breath. Just keep doing this for one minute. Eventually you can increase the time to three minutes, ten minutes—up to twenty minutes in this position, although one minute is plenty to start. It’s not how long you do this. It’s that you do it.
Not only will the breath focus create a greater sense of presence and mindfulness in your daily life if you do it consistently, but this particular restorative position also eases stress and other ailments by increasing the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid through the body. Just make sure that when you are ready to come out of this pose that you roll over onto your side for a few breaths before sitting up.
WALK THE WALK. Set your phone timer for five minutes next time you have an opportunity to walk somewhere alone. Instead of talking or texting or letting random thoughts take over your brain, focus on just putting one foot in front of the other and how that simple act feels in your body. Look around and take note of what you see, what you hear and what you smell. Don’t judge, don’t form an opinion–just observe yourself, your environment and yourself in the environment as you move through it.
COLOR ME SANE. The act of coloring puts me into a zone where my mind is at rest; I let myself choose colors that appeal to me in the moment and then allow my quieted brain to receive whatever inspiration it will. Right now I am working on two books: The Affirmations Coloring Book by Louise Hay (using colored pencils) which helps me to focus on positive prompts while I color, and Mandalas Coloring for Artists (using Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens). Mandalas are ancient circular designs that help to draw one’s focus inward; this book features very intricate and absorbing designs that all but shut out the world around me as I color.
EYE OF THE HURRICANE. When you find yourself in a crowded or chaotic place, such as a supermarket, mall or busy street, view yourself as the calm center of a storm. Observe the people and the activity around you as you breathe deeply, yet view yourself and the space immediately surrounding you as a place of utter calm. This exercise helps me to see that I am separate from the craziness around me. I may be in it, but I am not of it, and the persons and situations that surround me need not disturb or affect me.
TECH SUPPORT. Finally, if the voice of your own internal chaos is a little too loud and insistent for your liking, help is available! I’ve been using a great app called Stop, Breathe & Think, which offers a selection of free (and brief) guided meditations that you can listen to.
Dani Forest, Fabletics Master