zen habits : breathe

How to Use Mini-Meditations to Relax and Find Focus


Photo by elle_rigby

This is a guest post from Brian Tanaka of DevYou. Every Friday is Health Tip Day at Zen Habits.

It’s often hard to be as focused as we’d like to be. Many things in our hectic lives interrupt our concentration and erode focus. Think: cell phones, instant messaging, email, and co-workers vying for our time and energy.

Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these forces and bring better, more relaxed focus to our activities. One way is to use “mini-meditations.”

Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day. They require no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute — so they’re ideal mindfulness exercises whether you’re at home in a quiet room or in the midst of a busy day at work.

Here’s the process:

1. Stop what you’re doing. Grab a minute for yourself, and mentally set aside what you’re doing. Remember: the whole exercise takes less than a minute, so you needn’t make a big deal about finding the perfect stopping point. It’s really more a pause than a stop, and you’ll be refreshed and able to start what you’re doing again in just a little bit.

2. Close your eyes. Let your eyelids close and relax.

3. Pay attention to your breath. The core of this exercise is awareness of your breath. You needn’t do anything special with it — just breathe normally, but do pay attention to the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. If you’d like, you may breathe a bit slower and more deeply than you ordinarily do.

4. Count three full inhale-exhale cycles. Inhale and exhale. As you exhale, think to yourself: one. Inhale and exhale again, and think: two. Finally, inhale and exhale, and think: three.

5. Slowly open your eyes and resume what you were doing.

That’s it! Nice and simple. Try mini-meditations periodically throughout your day, and see for yourself if it’s helpful to you.

Brian Tanaka writes about self-improvement at the DevYou blog.

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