What are micro-meditations and how do they differ from longer meditations?
Micro-meditations are essentially shorter meditation sequences. They vary in type and may include breathing, visual meditations or any mindfulness practice you enjoy, just bite-sized. In general, micro-meditations last about one to five minutes, depending on Suzanne Chenfounder of Susan Chen Vedic Meditation At New York. They are also a great way to get started with meditation if you are unfamiliar, can’t concentrate during a longer meditation, or not found the right method yet, adds Chen. “There’s no one type of meditation, and these micro-meditations are a great way to start,” she says.
But when we say micro, we’re not talking about diminished benefits, just duration. There are many well established benefits of meditationincluding reduce inflammationand even just three minute meditations enough to get rid of stress and regain calm. You don’t have to be an expert in meditation either to reap the benefits; a 2019 study published in Behavioral brain research examined what happened when adults who were not experienced meditators completed four weeks of 13-minute guided mindfulness meditations—they said he was in a better mood and felt more attentive. The study also found that “relatively short” meditation practices had similar benefits to longer, more intensive meditations.
“The key here is quality, not quantity…if you just take some time (to meditate) and fully invest your attention, it would be more beneficial.”—Viktoriya Karakcheyeva, MD, Psychologist
But adding one more thing to the day is easier said than done, so how do you go about fitting micro-meditation into a busy schedule? Chen and Viktoriya Karakcheyeva, MDDirector of Behavioral Health at Resilience and Wellness Center To George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, recommend trying a quick meditation whenever you have a few free minutes to focus. Just be sure to do it when you are able to devote your full attention to reaping the benefits. “The key here is quality, not quantity,” says Dr. Karakcheyeva. “You can meditate for a long time without being too invested and it may not produce results, but if you just take a little time and fully invest your attention, it would be more beneficial.”
5 types of micro-meditations to try
1. Alternate nasal breathing
Chen says she recommends this meditation to her students because it’s quick and easy. Also known as nadi shodhanaalternate nasal breathing is based on a principle of yoga called pranayama control breathing by covering one nostril at a time and breathing. “It literally shifts the breath from the left nostril to the right in a systematic way,” says Chen.
Here’s how: With your lips closed and your tongue pressed against the roof of your mouth, place your right thumb on your right nostril and the middle or ring finger of the same hand on the left nostril. Close your right nostril and inhale through the left, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right. Then inhale from the right and exhale from the left. Repeat this alternating pattern as many times as you want.
2. Staircase meditation
Breathing meditations can help calm the nervous system, and Dr. Karakcheyeva has a short one to try that she calls “staircase meditation.” Imagine stacking your breaths on top of each other, which she likens to climbing stairs: inhale for a beat, then exhale for a beat. Next, inhale for two counts, then exhale for two counts. After that, you guessed it, inhale for three counts, exhale for three counts. You can continue as long as you want. Don’t bother with that, though; go as long as is comfortable. When you reach the top of your staircase, go back down, reducing the duration of each inhale and exhale by one count until you come back down to one.
3. Resonating Breath
This easy breathing technique has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety by lowering heart rate. It’s also almost comically simple to do: “The only requirement is to exhale for more seconds than you inhale,” says Chen. To get started, try inhaling for two seconds and exhaling for four, or inhaling for three seconds and exhaling for five. Repeat as many times as needed.
This is a simple exercise that Dr. Karakcheyeva says just about anyone can do. Visual meditations consist in imagining pleasant situations and images. One of the ways Dr. Karakcheyeva practices herself is by assigning visual elements such as colors, shapes, temperatures, and textures to the physical and mental sensations she experiences when under stress.
For example, suppose you were feeling uncomfortable and noticed that your the shoulders are tense and tense. Try assigning visuals to that feeling, so “you can start manipulating (those feelings),” she says. “You can tell this tension in my shoulder looks like a pulsating red ball, and I’m going to try changing that color to something a little less intense, like purple.” She recommends really focusing on those images to redirect your brain away from stress.
5. Say a helpful mantra
To use words of affirmation to reassure you. Come up with a simple sentence, such as “May I be well, may I be healthy, may I be happy”. When you need to ground yourself, simply take a deep breath and repeat your phrase as often as necessary. “Maybe you’re having a tough day and you don’t know when it’s going to end, so you can pause, notice what’s going on, and say this mantra to give you something good,” says Dr. Karakcheyeva.
Feel free to try out all of the mini-meditation methods above or find another that works for you like a meditation app, For example. And you don’t have to wait until you’re stressed to use these techniques – taking a few moments out of your day to practice mindfulness can also have preventative effects when it comes to alleviating stress and tension. .
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