On the commute: Meditation of sounds
What’s involved If you’re on the bus or train, it’s very sensory. Pay attention to the movement of the vehicle, the temperature – as long as you’re using something physical and sensory to ground you, that’s being mindful. It might be that you think your surroundings smell horrible and they’re loud, and this makes you feel irritated, but that’s still being mindful because you’re aware of the present moment. That’s often the misconception – that mindfulness has to be in an idyllic, relaxed setting. It doesn’t. Mindfulness is about accepting things the way they are.
How long will it take For as long or short as your commute.
In the office: Breathing meditation
What’s involved Choose any physical sense, whether it’s your breath or the office noises around you, to help anchor your mind to the present. Noticing the weight moving down through your body, the contact you’re making with the chair, the floor: What does that feel like? What are the sensory qualities involved? And then really pay attention to your breath: Where is it in the body?
Where can you do it At your desk if you feel comfortable – you could put on headphones to help you focus – otherwise you could find a quiet corner of the break room or pantry or a bench outside the office.
How long will it take Three to five minutes.
TIP Set an email reminder to prompt you to practise a mindfulness meditation every day, or it’s easy to get caught up in the frantic pace of office life.
If on your feet: Mindful walking
What’s involved If you move around a lot in your job – perhaps you’re a nurse who has to go from ward to ward, or a teacher walking from one site to another – mindful walking is brilliant. Bring your attention to how the ground feels beneath your feet, who and what is around you, rather than planning what you’re about to do.
Where can I do it Whenever you’re on the move. If you’re office based, try mindful walking during your lunch break. Feel the breeze on your skin and notice the people around you.
How long will it take It’s flexible – this can be fitted in to however long your walk is!
TIP Waiting for the jug to boil in the office kitchen? You can try some mindful stretching. Notice where there’s tension in your body and do any stretches your body might need – and anchor your attention on the sensation of stretching rather than thinking about that email you have to send.
Working from home: The body scan
What’s involved If you’re part of the growing tribe of home workers, this exercise is brilliant for setting a boundary between your home and work life. Find a quiet place to lie on a mat. Move your attention through your body from the top of your head down to your toes. Notice when your mind wanders as it inevitably will, then bring your attention back to your body.
When can I do it Try this at the start or end of your working day to set a division between “home you” and “work you”.
How long will it take Between five and 60 minutes – it’s up to you.
TIP Write yourself a mindfulness letter. The busyness of the working day can get in the way of living in line with your values, so regularly review where your energy and time is going. Think of what areas are being neglected, or what intentions you might want to remind yourself of in a month or two. Write yourself a short letter; you could get colleagues to do their own too – swap with a colleague and you can each send to each other in a month’s time.
As parents: Be like a child
What’s involved Learning from your child.
You know the drill. When you’re rushing around with children in tow, it’s easy to get caught up in thoughts about clearing up their mess rather than enjoying the moment. Children are naturally more mindful and present so we might go out in the garden and think, “I really must do some weeding”, whereas a child is likely to be fascinated by the soil, the crawling ants or the smell of the grass. As parents, we can learn a lot from kids.
TIP It’s challenging to pay attention to the present moment because it’s not really how our minds work. Think about the last time you spent 10 minutes just being – not planning where you’re going to take the kids on the weekends or what you’re going to have for dinner tonight. Just being in the present moment is rare, so it’s okay to find it difficult. Persevere.
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Text: Bauersyndication.com.au / Additional reporting: Sandhya Mahadevan / Photos: 123RF.com
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of The Singapore Women’s Weekly