I know that you're busy. You're juggling work, family obligations and personal goals. I know that you're stressed. You've got financial pressures, time constraints, health concerns and house projects. Who has the time to relax when you can barely keep your head above water? You do!
Taken from my recent book, Shortcuts to Inner Peace, these quick and easy mindfulness techniques are designed to do in your bed, in the shower or in transit. You can easily quiet your mind, cultivate gratitude, activate your parasympathetic nervous system and harness perspective to relax your way to bliss. Let your bed, shower and commute prompt one or more of these relaxation techniques every day and they'll soon become peaceful habits.
IN BED -- Before you get out of bed in the morning, or when you get into bed at night, use one or more of the following shortcuts to de-stress your body and mind.
1. Daily Dose -- Intentionally make your first thought of the day positive. Take a deep breath and as you exhale long and slow say, "I am anchored in peace today," or "I am grateful for this day to live." Say it in the present tense as if it is already happening. Feel your yourself relax and your mind quiet.
2. Good Morning Sunshine -- While still lying down, place one hand on your heart and the other hand on your lower belly. Rest like this for a minute and imagine light within you, the light of love. Think of someone you love (a person or a pet) and let that love fill you, expanding within you and radiating light. Breathe in the word "love" and breathe out the word "love."
3. Rest in Peace -- With your head on the pillow at night, mentally review your day and list three things that happened for which you are grateful. Think of specific details and re-create the experience in your mind's eye. Hold the feeling, thinking of yourself as a sponge and let the gratitude "sink" into your being. Don't forget simple pleasures and qualities in your life that are easy to take for granted.
IN THE SHOWER -- Take your pick of three ways to use the shower as a chance to clear your mind and let stress wash away. Begin each shortcut with a deep breath and a long, slow exhale, and you will feel your body begin to relax.
1. Stop and Smell -- When you're in the shower, inhale the scents of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and/or soap. Let the rich smells take you away on an aroma therapy-inspired mini-vacation. Notice how your mind becomes quiet as you indulge in the fragrance. Let yourself be carried away.
2. Catch and Release -- Think of your three top worries, things that stress you or that you're dreading. "Catch" each negative thought, name it, and "release" it down the drain. Say, for example, "I am worried about my performance review but I release it down the drain and let it go." Trust in the process of life.
3. It's Raining Love -- Think of a person in your life who has loved you (past or present). You might even think of a spiritual guide or teacher (such as Jesus or the Buddha). Imagine their love raining down upon you. As you stand in the shower, feel their love washing over you and saturating you completely. Let yourself receive and absorb this abundant love. Drink it into your body. Say or think, "I am showered with love."
IN YOUR CAR (Bus, Train, Subway, or Sidewalk) -- Why not turn your stressful commute time into an opportunity to access your innate inner peace?
1. How Low Can you Go? When you put the key in the ignition (or hear the bus/train/subway start) think of the key that starts your life: your breath. Let yourself pause for a long, slow, low, deep, calming breath. Inhale deeply to the count of five and then exhale slowly, focusing your attention on the sensations of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Repeat as necessary.
2. Stop, Drop and Roll -- "Stop" at a red light, "drop" down into your heart, and "roll" out some goodwill to your fellow travelers. Know that each person on their own commute is just like you -- full of joys and sorrows, dreams and disappointments. Look around and wish each of them some happiness thinking, "I hope you're happy," "I wish you peace," or "May you enjoy good health." As you feel compassion, your stress level drops and you begin to experience the benefits of an open heart.
3. Big Sky -- Look up to the sky and briefly contemplate the clouds, the colors, the movement above. "Breathe" in the sky and know that the spaciousness above is mirrored in the spaciousness within you. Recognize that you are a person with many pieces to the vast puzzle of your life.
Remember that you do have time, every day, to relax and cultivate peace. Let your everyday activities prompt these calming practices, and your old patterns of stressful thinking will begin to change for the good. Start TODAY.
For more by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.
Follow Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyDavisBush