Why a little mindfulness goes a long way.
I have been teaching shorter classes these days. My own practices, as well, range from 15 to 60 minutes, usually clocking in at around 45 minutes. That’s a lot different than the pre-Zoom days of 75-minute practices. Now, I love a long, luxurious practice where you can dive deeply into exploration. But I don’t always have time for that. However, I always have time to pause, and take a few deep breaths. I always have time to breathe as I reach my arms over my head, roll my shoulders, or flex and extend my back in cat/cow. I have time for a quiet 15-minute meditation. I have time to listen to the birds and watch the sun rise or set. I have the opportunity for lots of mini-mindful-moments, and those little moments have a big impact on my days.
We started talking about this very thing in one of my classes yesterday. I had suggested that students log on a few minutes early, just to give themselves an extra moment to “arrive” and breathe, in order to be more present for class. We talked about how just that extra moment can make a huge difference. As can pausing anytime during your day. Taking 10 minutes to walk outside when you feel antsy or stuck. Setting a timer for a 12-minute breath meditation. Five, or ten, or fifteen minutes of movement when you are feeling ungrounded. A 30-minute morning practice to cultivate strength, flexibility, and presence throughout your day.
Another wonderful thing about a shorter practice is that it is easier to keep a commitment to it. A daily 75-minute practice might seem daunting, but all of us can find 15 or 30 minutes somewhere in the day for a practice. It’s great if it’s at the same time each day, but that doesn’t always work in our schedules, so your practice times might vary. My teacher says, “practice little, and often”
A Little Goes a Long Way
Research supports the “a little goes a long way” approach. Studies have shown that:
- A 20-minute yoga session temporarily improves working memory
- 12 minutes of Yoga, practiced every other day, can increase bone density
- A 15-minute meditation practice can help you make better decisions
- 30 minutes of daily meditation improves symptoms of anxiety and depression
So, please don’t postpone your practice because you don’t have time for a longer class.
Ideas to Build Short Practices
Here are some ideas to build more short practices into your day, whether you have 5 minutes or more:
- Take a few conscious breaths. If you are seated at your desk, pause, place your feet firmly on the floor and feel that connection. Then pay close attention to your breath, allowing the inhalation to fill you up and the exhalation to empty you. Stay with this for 3 or more breaths, breathing in and out through the nose if that is comfortable, or breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Sit, stand, or lie down and take your attention to your physical body. Notice first the parts that want your attention and pay attention to them. Notice the sensations that are present, without trying to change them or fix them. Then move on, systematically to feel throughout the body, noticing the energy and vibration that is there.
- Do a short physical/movement practice to build or direct your energy. Do your favorite postures from class (make sure your body is warm enough). Take a short class or find a video that you like a follow along. Or, just listen to your intuition and let your body direct your movement. Be sure to breathe along with the movement. Move quickly or take time to slowly stretch and explore the sensations present.
- Take a walk without your phone or earbuds. Just walk and feel each footstep. Notice the temperature around you. Feel your breath quicken. Use all your senses and see the colors, hear the sounds, notice any fragrance, or tastes present and deeply feel how the body moves.
- Cultivate your inner resource of being. Spend some time feeling what it is like to just “be” without doing anything. You might get a sense of the “aliveness” that you are, beyond and greater than the things that you do, and the feelings, thoughts and stressors that come and go. This feeling can be your inner resource, and, as you become more and more familiar with it, the more easily you can access it when you need to remember your wholeness as being or regain perspective. Sometimes it helps to remember a time when you felt completely at ease and use that to experience the feelings of your inner resource. Over time this becomes an ally that is always there for you to meet and greet and deal with stress.
Be Well. ~Lisa