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Power Swaps: The best way to get calm…fast

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Healthy changes often come as a result of major dedication and discipline—like pre-dawn workouts and ordering kale salad instead of moules frites and red wine (darn you, Olivia Pope). But small, yet powerful changes can boost your wellness as much as big sacrifices can. In this new Well+Good series, we share some seriously smart yet simple swaps. Introducing Power Swaps.

We all know the benefits of developing a meditation practice: Less stress, better doctor’s checkups. Greater enjoyment of day-to-day life, fewer meltdowns over inconsequential things.

But it can be all too easy to get caught up in doing it perfectly—the right method, the right pillows, for 20 minutes a day at least. So easy, in fact, that many of us never stick to it.

That’s why yogi-psychologist Ashley Turner—who’s schooled many a newbie in the ancient practice—says the top swap you can make to get calm fast is to meditate in the moment, rather than waiting for the perfect set of circumstances.

And it couldn’t be any easier.

“Just breathe,” Turner says. “The breath is right there with you, always. It’s not in the future, it’s not in the past.” (Oh, right!)

Ashley Turner
(Photo: Ashley Turner)

Try taking three deep breaths, she suggests. Or inhale for four counts, hold for four, exhale for four, then hold for four again. Try it for five or 10 times that way if you can—eyes closed is great, to help your mind go inward—but it’s not a requirement. This way you can pull it off somewhat stealthily during an (irritating?) meeting.

And if you can, pay attention to where you feel the breath. In your nose? Your belly?

There are no rules, other than do it…then do it again. Meditation’s a muscle. And like a Beyonce booty, it can be developed through longer workouts. But you can also make major gains with the spiritual equivalent of 10 squats daily.

“As often as you can throughout the day, take a moment. When you get in the car to drive somewhere or arrive on the subway platform, pause, relax, breathe, and feel,” Turner says. “Before you pick up the phone to call someone, or walk into a meeting … insert those personal moments of pause.”

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