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Not enough time in your schedule for a lengthy mindfulness practice? You can get started with these simple 1-minute exercises.
Beginning the practice of mindfulness can feel daunting at first, but starting small with 1-minute exercises can make mindfulness very doable.
The more regularly you practice any-length exercise, the more mindfulness will be a part of your everyday life. Then, you can reap the rewards of living more mindfully.
Mindfulness, simply put, is paying attention to the here and now.
Well-known mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness in his book “Mindfulness for Beginners” as “awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
The practice of mindfulness involves two types of meditation:
- Traditional meditation: You sit undisturbed and pay attention to your breath and body.
- Activity meditation: You focus your attention while doing daily activities like walking or washing dishes.
The short answer is yes, you can.
Think of a 1-minute mindfulness exercise like the brakes in your car. The important thing is that you stop — not so much the length of your stop. You may find yourself looking forward to putting the brakes on your high-speed life with one of these 1-minute breathers.
Research in 2019 suggests that regular meditation of a short duration can have similar health benefits as meditations of longer duration and higher intensity.
Regular daily practice seems to be more important than the length of your practice.
As you begin stopping for 1 minute a couple of times a day, you may soon find yourself expanding your practice to several times, or even 5 or 6 times, a day.
Soon, mindfulness will be a daily practice that comes naturally.
(Video) One Minute Mindfulness Exercise
There are a number of ways you can practice mindfulness in just 1 minute.
This is a basic meditation that could become the cornerstone of your mindfulness practice. It’s easy to learn and is designed to be done in as little as 1 minute.
You can try the below version, provided by the Center for Healthy Living at Kaiser Permanente. Their PDF flyer even has pictures of steps you can print out.
- Sit up straight, but not stiffly, in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands in a balanced position and close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing, as you follow each breath in and out.
- After 1 minute (or longer), gradually open your eyes and resume activities.
Quick tip: The sands of time
To help you keep up your 1-minute meditation practice, try keeping a 1-minute hourglass timer on your desk or your bedside table.
Anytime you see something that draws your interest, like how the light plays on the wall or the sound of a bird outside, just turn the timer upside down.
Focus on your breath along with what you see, hear, or feel for 1 minute.
You can start doing this meditation for 1 minute as you walk from the kitchen to the living room, or from your home to your car. Later, you might expand walking meditations to include part or all of a daily walk.
This version of a walking meditation comes from the Buddhist mindfulness teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices.”
- As you begin walking, pay attention to each step.
- Notice how many steps you take during each inhale and exhale, and at the speed you’re walking. Pay attention to your lungs, and do not force your breathing or the number of steps you take.
- Match your steps to your breath. For example, as you breathe in, count 1-2-3 steps. As you breathe out, count 1-2-3 steps. Let your lungs and feet come to a happy equilibrium.
- As you walk, you may wish to say a phrase that approximates the rhythm of your walking. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests: “With each step, a gentle wind blows.”
The first moments of waking are a wonderful time to practice mindfulness to greet the day:
- Arrange your body in a comfortable position.
- Stretch and let your attention scan your body quickly.
- Pay attention to how each part of your body feels.
- Follow several cycles of inhales and exhales for 1 minute.
“Free-range meditation” is a term from the book “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren, and Carlye Adler. It refers to co-opting daily activities for your meditation practice.
They use the example of a shower:
- Pay attention to the action of turning faucets, standing under the spray, putting on soap.
- Feel the warm water, trying to feel each individual stream.
- Switch to cooler water for a couple of seconds, then back to warm water.
- Keep your attention on the present. If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back.
- Keep doing this for a minute to start, and you may eventually extend it to include the entire shower, and drying off as well!
You can do free-range meditation with any of your daily activities — brushing your teeth, washing dishes, drinking coffee, and even having a conversation with your spouse or friend.
This is a great exercise to do whenever you’re waiting, for example:
- on hold on the phone
- at a traffic light
- in the doctor’s office
It’s a highly structured type of breathing exercise that requires your full attention.
You breathe in specific counts, while visualizing a box:
- Inhale to the count of 4 as you visualize the top edge of a box.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4, as you go down along the right side.
- Exhale for a count of 4, moving from right to left along the bottom edge.
- Hold for another count of 4, going up along the left side, back to the top.
- Repeat for several cycles for at least 1 minute.
If you’d like to try a guided demonstration, view the video Box Breathing – 1 minute in length by Conscious Works on YouTube.
Passing through a door
This exercise comes from pediatrician Jan Chozen Bays’ book of mindfulness exercises: “How to Train a Wild Elephant.” She calls it Entering New Spaces.
It helps us learn to leave and enter rooms, cars, houses — anything with a door — mindfully.
“Before you walk through a door, pause, even for a second, and take one breath,” she writes. “Be aware of the differences you might feel in each new space you enter.”
She also advises mindful attention to how we close the door behind us before entering the new environment. “We often move immediately into a new space without finishing up with the old one, forgetting to close the door or letting it slam shut,” she points out.
A 1-minute mindfulness exercise is an opportunity to pause and reset your mind and body. It can also be your gateway to a regular mindfulness practice.
Guided meditations are often a good place to start. You might consider some of the following resources:
- Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer offer guided meditations of varying lengths.
- Online mindfulness courses are available, often for free, from Coursera.
- Plum Village, a global community of mindfulness practitioners, offers exercises to stream or download.
Want to share mindfulness with your kids?
While it's a good idea to follow a longer practice that includes 10 to 15 minutes of deep breathing or meditation, taking just one minute can still help you calm your mind and clear your head.
Mindfulness-based clinical interventions such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) typically recommend practicing meditation for 40-45 minutes per day. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) tradition often recommends 20 minutes, twice daily.
S — Stop, or pause. T — Take a breath. O — Observe the body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physical sensations. P — Proceed with more awareness. S.T.O.P. is an informal mindfulness practice that allows us to take a breath and check in to see how we're doing.
- Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour. ...
- Three hugs, three big breaths exercise. ...
- Stroke your hands. ...
- Mindfully eat a raisin. ...
- Clench your fist and breathe into your fingers. ...
- STOP. ...
- Mindful breathing for one minute. ...
- Loving-kindness meditation.
"In that three minutes, you actually allow your system to reset." By beginning with three minutes of mediation a day, she says, your body begins to learn that this is the time where you just sit. "But you're not not doing anything," says Oula. "You're just sitting and you're being mindful.
Gratitude meditation has been linked to better mental health and emotional regulation, and other studies have shown that meditation can improve your ability to cope with stressful circumstances. Even better, experts have suggested that the optimal amount of time for meditation each day is five to 10 minutes.
Research has shown that just five minutes of meditation a day is enough to help clear the mind, improve mood, boost brain function, reduce stress, slow down the ageing process and support a healthy metabolism. Some days you may have more time, and other days you may have less.
The above research implies that 13 minutes of meditation per session is enough to reap benefits. Still, regularity may be just as important. Practicing for 13 minutes once every few months isn't likely to yield as many benefits as practicing daily for 5 minutes.
Take 10. A daily practice will provide the most benefits. It can be 10 minutes per day, however, 20 minutes twice a day is often recommended for maximum benefit.
The STOP Technique is a mindfulness-based practice designed to help you defuse stress in the moment. Creating space in the day to pause, slow down a racing mind, and get back into the present moment has been shown to be incredibly helpful in reducing the the negative effects of stress.
- Use cognitive distancing. Our mind usually worries about things it is convinced are true but, most of the time, are actually not true. ...
- Use a mantra. ...
- Focus on the present. ...
- Write things down. ...
- S: Stop. Whatever you're doing, just pause momentarily.
- T: Take a breath. Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment.
- O: Observe. Notice what is happening. What is happening inside you, and outside of you? ...
- P: Proceed. Continue doing what you were doing.
For more structured mindfulness exercises, such as body scan meditation or sitting meditation, you'll need to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions. You might choose to practice this type of exercise early in the morning before you begin your daily routine.
Mindfulness can mean being aware of your breath. Realizing the changes within your abdominal area as your body receives adapts to the inflow of air each time you inhale and exhale. 2. Focusing your attention on the food you are eating is another example of mindfulness.
- Be clear about your aim. ...
- Warm up (5 minutes). ...
- Settle into a rhythm (10 to 15 minutes). ...
- Challenge yourself (10 to 15 minutes). ...
- Cool down (5 minutes). ...
- Rest (5 minutes).
Although it is not an exact science, the consensus seems that to see benefits from meditation, you should aim for at least 10 minutes a day at a minimum. However, each person will respond differently, so it's important to test out longer meditation periods if 10 minutes does not seem to be making a difference for you.
Previous studies have reported that MBSR, which involves 24-30 hours of meditation practice over two months, led to an increase in gray matter density—a measure of the amount of cortical grey matter in a given area — and gray matter volume—the total size of the grey matter— in several brain areas including the ...
- You feel more motivated. ...
- You are sleeping better. ...
- You got this! ...
- You stop comparing your practice. ...
- You are less stressed. ...
- You have more room in your mind. ...
- Meditation isn't something you have to do – you look forward to it. ...
- You realize you don't need a dark room and scented candles.
Meditation and mindfulness can cause some negative side effects in some who practice. In a new study, 6% of participants who practiced mindfulness reported negative side effects that lasted for more than a month. These effects can disrupt social relationships, sense of self, and physical health.
Meditation lets you be in tune with your thoughts and emotions. And while this is generally a good thing, over-meditation can lead you to be overexposed to what's inside, which can be overwhelming. Meditating too much can result in increased anxiety, panic attacks, and resurfaced negative feelings or memories.
Daily meditation can help you perform better at work! Research found that meditation helps increase your focus and attention and improves your ability to multitask. Meditation helps clear our minds and focus on the present moment – which gives you a huge productivity boost. Lowers risk of depression.
- Walk on grass barefoot and feel the earth under your feet. You can walk on grass, dirt, or wet sand. ...
- Connect with nature. Make contact with a tree or other living organism from Earth.
- Use an Earthing Mat, Earthing Bands, or Earthing Patches while you meditate.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. ...
- Then let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
- Step 1: Pick the desired outcome for your meditation. ...
- Step 2: Choose a central transformation catalyst. ...
- Step 3: Write your meditation script. ...
- Step 4: Record & Listen to Your Meditation Script. ...
- Step 5: Revise & Finalize Your Meditation.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Grounding techniques help you to stay “in the moment” when your mind and body are returning to a place of trauma or stress.
Within the field of mindfulness, 'grounding' refers to the ability to return to the present moment with sustained attention. For example, while practicing mindfulness meditation, you focus only on your breathing while seated for approximately 10–30 minutes.
In somatic meditation, the focus is on your internal sensations. The meditation object can be your breath, the sensation of blood flowing rhythmically through your body, the energy tingling in your fingers and toes, or any of the vast sensory information being transmitted from your body to your brain.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep.
- Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight.
- Exhale completely through your mouth.
- Close your mouth lightly and inhale through your nose quietly to the count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale audibly through your mouth for a count of 8.
- Keep the air moist. ...
- Drink plenty of fluids. ...
- Apply a warm, wet washcloth to the face. ...
- Keep the head elevated. ...
- Do not suppress a cough. ...
- Discreetly get rid of phlegm. ...
- Use a saline nasal spray or rinse. ...
- Gargle with salt water.
Instructions tell the participants what you want them to focus on in the meditation. For example: “Feeling the sensations of your breath” or “If you notice the attention is not on the breath, gently guiding it back.” In general, avoid giving instructions that lead the attention outside the meditation.
Pick your mantra – it could be a simple word like "relax," "serene" or "peace," or something more spiritual like "ohm" or "so-hum" (ancient Sanskrit words meaning "nothingness" and "I am that").
Start by settling into a comfortable position and allow your eyes to close or keep them open with a softened gaze. Begin by taking several long slow deep breaths breathing in fully and exhaling fully. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth.