Contrary to what we were led to believe, adulting is not doing whatever we want, whenever we want. Instead, we’re constantly responding to our bosses, our families, the news cycle.… And while we deeply wish that finding inner peace was as easy as ordering a new pair of shoes or polishing off a pint of Chunky Monkey, turns out it’s more elusive.
But what if a silent retreat isn’t in the cards? Who among us hasn’t closed her eyes and tried to meditate, only to give up in frustration? If yoga makes you crack up or cringe, what’s a girl gotta do to center herself?
Bare it All is here to help you find a few moments of Zen without resorting to weird breathing techniques. Read on for eight low-effort ways to clear your mind.
1) Forget “clear your mind.”
A lot of people imagine meditation requires a dark room, total quiet, a yoga mat, glowing votives—the works. But the whole idea is to be able to access peace amid chaos. It’s not even really possible to flip a switch in your brain that turns off negative self-talk and to-do lists, leaving only a blissful vacuum. Instead, think of inner peace in terms of deep concentration, tapping into the infinite reserve of calm that lives just below the daily churn. You can enhance concentration and awareness by focusing your attention on a single thing, like your morning cup of coffee. How does it smell, feel, taste? Seriously, that’s all there is to it.
2) Just breathe.
It can be ironically stressful to do exaggerated belly breathing or hold your inhalations for a seemingly infinite number of seconds. All you really have to do is breathe with intention, and maybe exhale a little longer than you exhale. Three old fashioned, conscious breaths can be enough to reset you when you’re ready to blow a gasket. Sitting at an endless traffic light? Breathe. Let go of the anger over being late—you are here, and there’s nothing else you could do. No time for such luxuries? Train your brain to merely be aware that you are breathing. What else could possibly matter more?
3) Redefine “meditation.”
Meditation isn’t one monolithic thing reserved for monks and saints. There are loads of ways to do it, and you’ll naturally find some easier than others. Try these highly accessible forms of finding inner peace:
- Mindful meditation: As if standing behind a waterfall, see a thought run through your mind, notice it, and let it go without judging the thought or getting hung up on it. You’re a witness to, not a product of, your thoughts.
- Gratitude meditation: Literally count your blessings. Jot down a quick list of everything you have that you’re grateful for. The longer you keep up the practice, the more you see how much you already have to be thankful for rather than worried about.
- Focused-attention meditation: Concentrate on something, be it internal (your happy place; a mantra; a goal) or external (a part of the body; a strand of worry beads; ambient noises). The more you practice zeroing in on the thing, the easier it gets.
4) Go with the flow.
Much of what stresses us out is when reality defies expectation. Especially in these polarizing times, the best thing you can do is keep an open mind amid tense interactions. Embrace rather than fight the unknown, and stop reverting to those well-worn thought patterns etched in your brain. By letting go of what you think you know, you come to know new things. Have faith that you’ll emerge on the other side of what’s stressing you out the same way you always have: just fine.
5) Do less, listen more.
When others tell you their problems, remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to solve them or even take them on. People just want to be heard and acknowledged. If in doubt, take a beat before you rush to do anything. Choosing not to do anything is a valid choice. Saying no is a complete sentence. Turn off the news. Refusing to reflexively react to every single thing coming at you is a great way to take back control over your day, your emotions, your life.
6) Only connect.
Text or call a friend—bam, meditation. Or get off the screens and spend ten minutes petting your dog or cat. Play a game with your kid, leaving phone in another room. Set a timer if you need to, but be fully present and engaged with someone else and notice how much it recharges your batteries.
7) Start unitasking.
Unavoidable though it feels, multitasking isn’t for everyone. If you suspect you’re among them, give up the constant hustling, which is a recipe for burnout. Deliberately take breaks when you need them (a walk or shower can really help recharge your brain) and accept that not everything on your to-do list is going to get done today…that’s what tomorrow is for!
8) Take comfort.
You already know you’re worthy of love and acceptance, right? Great! Now don’t forget about self-love and self-acceptance. That comes from feeling comfortable in your own skin: When you feel at ease, you project ease. Believe it or not, we see time and time again how that starts at the bra level. If you’re in ill-fitting unders, your mood subconsciously follows suit. Why start the day with a thorn in your side if you don’t have to? That’s what our Bra Fit Experts are here for. Once you get the foundations right, you can go out and slay, knowing your body doesn’t remotely define you.
Your simply being here is the mind-blowing fact that most defines you. You are enough because you are here. Read that as many times as you need to.
Better yet, call it a meditation.