Feeling stressed and overwhelmed but can’t take yourself “out of the game?” Try a “mini.” Want to calm down and open up a more relaxed blood flow? Try a “mini.” Want to relax and tap in to the resources of creative flow? Try a “mini.”
“Minis,” short for mini-meditations, were developed by the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind-Body Medicine to reduce stress quickly and easily in little time.
What is a “mini?”
A mini-meditation is a short meditation. No need to chant or hum (unless you want to) nor do you have to sit on the floor. These mini-meditations can be done with your eyes closed or open. I prefer my eyes to be open just a little so that my co-workers don’t totally think I’m sleeping. You can do a mini-meditation seated at your desk, on the floor, or lying down. A “mini” can be done anywhere really as long as your posture is aligned and comfortable and when you don’t need to have fully conscious focus on the task at hand, like driving a car.
My first experience doing a “mini” was at The Revolutionary Practice of Mind Body Medicine Training provided by the Benson-Henry Institute. I saw that within 5 minutes of doing a “mini” I was relaxed. I had proof.
Chill out to warm up
Prior to the “mini” they gave out Biodots to put on the fleshy part of our hand between thumb and index finger. http://www.biodots.net/about/ Biodots are thermometers that show the skin temperature changes. When you are stressed blood flow to the hands and feet is constricted. Conversely, skin temperature changes with increased blood flow. Meditative relaxation opens up this peripheral blood flow. The experience was very cool (pun intended.)
When I put my Biodot on it was black. Ugh! That must have been a mistake since I wasn’t stressed. I was at a mind-body conference and we’re all happy. Nope. Black. However, by the time my mini-meditation was done my Biodot smiled blue at me. My hands felt warm. I felt relaxed and calm. All in less than 5 minutes. It took me longer to write this paragraph than the time it took to relax like that. Maybe I should be doing a “mini” right now? So, what are the different types of “mini?”
Types of “minis”
Looking through my notes they suggest 2 basic ways you can reset you mind by doing a “mini:”
- Repeating a phrase
But, before we can go into the specifics of these mini-meditations we have to review the foundation of meditation practice, and indeed the essential requirement of all aerobic life on Earth.
Breathing is important
To do any meditation you first must become aware of your breath. Feel your breathing. Notice it’s pace. Become aware of breathing in. Notice where your body expands while breathing in. Feel the air coming into your lungs. After breathing in feel the pause in your breathing. Feel how your body feels during this pause in breathing. Be gentle with yourself during this experience. Then, become aware of breathing out. Feel the air flowing out of your body. Feel how your body comes back to form.
A counting mini-meditation is one where you slowly count along with your breathing. It is very simple to do. No special pillows, bells, gongs, chants, or robes required.
Slowly count up from 0 to 10. Each number corresponds with a slow exhale of your breath. Breath slowly. Think about the numbers as you breathe out. Counting is associated with the out breath because of the parasympathetic response of relaxation that happens when exhaling. In short, the exhale is when you relax more.
This is a deliberate and slow process. I don’t know about you but just going through the exercise describing it is making me feel better. It’s only 10 breaths, why not give it a try?
If you’d like to try something different there are variations of this counting meditation. You could count up during inhaling and count down during exhale. For example, while breathing in you could count up from 0 to 4, counting slowly, pause briefly, then count down from 4 to 0 during exhalation. This technique is good if you want to expand your lungs and slow your breathing you could count up and down over a greater range of numbers. This is a nice way to slow down.
Repeating a phrase
Meditating on a phrase can be even easier than counting. Instead of keeping track of the numbers all you have to do is repeat a short, meaningful phrase over the time while you breathe in, and breathe out.
“I am, at peace” is a phrase that Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist and meditation teacher, suggests to meditate on. It is one of my go-to phrases when I stop, drop and meditate. This is how “I am, at peace” would be used for a repeated phrase “mini.” On the slow inhale of your breath think of the first part of the phrase “I am.” Pause gently. Slowly breathe out thinking and absorbing “…at peace.” Repeat this 10 times. More if needed.
The phrase you choose should be meaningful to you. It should also invoke a feeling of peace and calm. It is best kept simple. It can be religious or secular. It’s your choice. Try different ones that create deeper spaces of calm for you.
When to do a “mini”
I like to do repeated phrase meditation while on the commuter train. I don’t have to drive it is a great time to meditate. You can do any kind of “mini” to clear your mind while at work. Hardly anyone would notice if you’re blankly staring at a computer screen, breathing deeply. You can even do mini-meditations while walking to get extra benefits of exercise of walking. Mini-meditations can be done anytime when you don’t need to have fully conscious focus on the task at hand as for instance driving a car would be.
Why not try a “mini?”
If you’ve read this far then you’ve already exceeded the time required to do any one of these different forms of mini-meditations. Why not take another two minutes and try one?