Desperate to find some calm in the chaos (which planet is in retrograde now?), you’ve added morning meditation to your routine. But any focus and clear-headedness you found before breakfast disappears in the blink of an eye or the cancellation of a flight.
But mindfulness expert Courtney Sunday, author of Mindfulness for PMS, Hangovers, and Other Real-World Situations, says you can find your Zen when your subway stalls or after you drop your phone…again—if you can coach your mind into recognizing the pockets of stillness (as brief as they may be) that appear throughout your day. “Many people don’t take a step back in their own lives to sit and be still,” she says. “If we use specific instances [to focus our minds], like picking up our dog’s poop, we have the capacity to be more centered.
Learning to center your mind can also help quiet the chatter when you find your thoughts stuck in a destructive feedback loop. You know the feeling: You keep replaying that fight with your friend, wondering why your boss didn’t respond to your email, or obsessing over the reasons for your recent breakup. “If you have some moments every day to notice your own reactions, you’ll see things as they appear [and give yourself time to feel your feelings], rather than be woken up in the middle of the night” by your demons, says Sunday. And a better night’s sleep can only help with your stress levels.
Below, Sunday shares a meditation for helping break a pattern of obsessive, harmful thoughts.
A meditation for when you’re obsessing over your ex (or anything else)
Excerpted from Mindfulness for PMS, Hangovers, and Other Real-World Situations by Courtney Sunday
Take a patient attitude. If you are forceful and judgmental with yourself, you will feel stuck in the repetitive thought process (and even more stressed out).
As you inhale, invite yourself to be open to a bigger experience than your obsession.
As you exhale, imagine clearing away some space in your mind.
Begin to make your inhalations on a count of four exhalations on a count of eight. If this feels beyond your capacity, try inhaling for a count of two and exhaling for four until you become relaxed enough to increase the count.
After a few minutes, bring in a breath retention. Inhale for four. Retain the breath for seven. Exhale for eight. This type of breathing is not only a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system but also a way to restrain reactivity.
It may only take a few breaths before you find yourself moving away from your recycled thoughts. If you need more time, take more breaths. Become the owner of a more spacious mind.
No time for stillness? Give this two-minute walking meditation a shot. Plus, the best mediation style for you based on your wellness needs.
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