If you haven’t tried mindfulness meditation yet, why are you still waiting? This practice can calm you during troubled times and improve your decision-making skills. It’s free, and you can do it anywhere.
“But I don’t have the time,” you might complain. Fair enough — after all, if you’re trying to homeschool children while juggling work responsibilities, your plate might spill over. Luckily, you can perform the following mindfulness skyscraper technique in only one minute. It takes longer than that to fix a cup of tea.
Step One: Set Up Your Body to Relax
Did you know that the word “pandiculation” means to yawn and stretch at the same time? This action calms both your body and mind. When you yawn, you tend to exhale twice as long as you inhale. Doing so activates the parasympathetic nervous system — the bodily system that tells you to relax.
Breathe deeply, feeling your ribs and belly expand. As you do so, stretch your arms up overhead and extend your legs — you can do this right at your desk. Exhale with a sigh, emptying your lungs and deepening the stretch.
Step Two: Give Yourself a Hug
Ideally, you could perform this step with a partner. But if you’re currently on your own for one reason or another, you can get a boost of the happy hormone oxytocin — the hormone that helps us calm down during stressful situations — by completing this while you participate in a video chat with your family and friends. Wrap your arms around yourself while your virtual loved one does the same. Take three big breaths together, imagining that you are embracing. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a hug on your own, either!
Step Three: Stroke Your Hands
Did you ever notice how you relax when you gently stroke a beloved puppy or kitten? You can evoke the same calming sensation on yourself by caressing the outside of your fingers. This simple motion grounds you in the present moment.
Try running your thumb down the inside of your middle finger until you find the soft indent near the bottom. Apply medium pressure here to relax the nerves in your chest and rid yourself of that heart-flutter sensation you experience with a bad case of nerves.
Step Four: Have a Nibble
Yes, you get to have a snack during this meditation. Select a treat that lets you savor the texture and taste. You don’t want anything too salty or sour, as these foods will make you pucker your mouth. Try a strawberry or small piece of chocolate. As you chew or let it dissolve, notice how the flavors play on different parts of your tongue and how your mouth feels.
Step Five: Ditch the Paper Bag
Did you ever see a TV show where the characters calm someone who is hyperventilating by having them breathe into a paper bag? This version uses your body — no accessories necessary. Start with your fingers and thumbs pointed down, then clench your fist. Turn your hand upright, keeping it closed, and breathe into it. Imagine yourself trying to warm your palms with your breath.
Step Six: Tune Out, Tune In
This step begins with a body scan to identify areas of discomfort. Close your eyes and observe the physical sensations in each part of your body. As you exhale, imagine yourself releasing any aches or pains as your muscles relax. As you inhale, try to expand any positive emotions until they fill your entire body.
Then, open your eyes to the world around you. Observe something that pleases your eye and silently express gratitude for its existence. Look at the room the way a stranger would and appreciate the things that bring you joy. Take three deep breaths. On the first, inhale, tell yourself to step back from your racing thoughts. On the second, tell your mind to clear, and on the third, try to relax your muscles by imagining the tension melting away.
Step Seven: Breathe Mindfully
Continue breathing, and draw your awareness to your body’s actions as you do so. You can rest your hands on your tummy to feel it rise and fall. Thoughts will begin to intrude, and that’s okay. When they do, gently return your attention to your respiration. It can help to visualize yourself placing the thought aside to return to later. Repeat for one minute or until you feel calm.
Step Eight: Loving-Kindness Meditation
Visualize someone who you love. As you breathe, let a feeling of appreciation and joy glow in your chest like a bright, white light. Imagine that light and positivity expanding until it surrounds you. Picture yourself extending that illumination to the person you care about, filling them with a sense of peace.
Step Nine: Closing Affirmation
To conclude this brief meditation, decide on an affirmation to guide you through the rest of your day. For example, you could say, “I release all negative feelings and thoughts about myself,” or, “I am consistent in what I say and do.” As you arise from your semi-trance, carry this thought with you to help you make the most of every moment.
Use This Skyscraper Meditation Technique Anytime, Anywhere
The beauty of this practice is that you can use it to calm yourself anytime and anywhere. The next time you need to ease your anxiety, take a minute to climb the staircase to tranquility.