10-Minute Meditation Breaks
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When kids get too rowdy, they’re given time-outs. Regardless of why parents and teachers administer a time-out, it’s ultimately meant to help children slow down, reconnect with the present moment, and begin again. It’s a reset that helps kids re-enter the playground of life a little more slowly and with increased awareness of their actions.
Adults too, can benefit from a periodic reset. Although most people move so quickly through fast-paced, deadline-driven days that they often neglect their own health and well-being. To help you slow down, reconnect to yourself and your goals, and make more conscious and deliberate choices, try taking a periodic break to recalibrate.
Try these quick 10-minute meditation breaks—or “time INs”—to help you reset. Rotate through them depending on your current needs. Set a timer for 8 to 10 minutes before you begin each one. Bonus: these meditations can be extended to longer periods of 20 to 30 minutes if you find them enjoyable.
This meditation, as taught by Michael Brown in his book The Presence Process, is great for grounding you into the present moment when life starts to get a bit out of control. When you catch yourself being pulled in too many directions, this will help anchor you to the present moment before you resume your daily activities.
- Wherever you’re at, take a seat, close your eyes, and settle into your body.
- Become aware of your breathing.
- Take note of what you’re feeling in that moment and center your thought on your inhalation and exhalation of breath.
- Begin with the grounding mantra: "I am here, now, in this.”
- As you follow your breath in, silently think “I.”
- As you follow your breath out, silently think “am.”
- As you follow your breath in, silently think “here.”
- As you follow your breath out, silently think “now.”
- As you follow your breath in, silently think “in.”
- As you follow your breath out, silently think “this.”
- When the timer goes off, slowly open your eyes, take a couple moments to center yourself, and continue on with your day.
One of the oldest Zen Buddhist meditations is a mindfulness-based practice where you become the observer of sounds, sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. This meditation helps to focus your attention, which cultivates an awareness that ultimately leads to becoming mindful of how you are choosing to interpret your experiences. From there, you develop the ability to make more conscious choices in your life.
- Wherever you’re at, take a seat, close your eyes, and become aware of your environment.
- Pay attention to your breathing.
- Take note of what you’re feeling in that moment.
- Focus your awareness on sounds (2 minutes).
- Next, focus your awareness on sensations (2 minutes).
- Then focus your awareness on images (2 minutes).
- Then focus your awareness on feelings (2 minutes).
- Finally, focus your awareness on your thoughts (2 minutes).
- At the end, slowly open your eyes, take a couple moments to center yourself, and then continue on with your day.
Metta or Loving-Kindness Meditation
This meditation is a method for developing compassion and is a great one to use when you’re in a place of feeling challenged by, or frustrated with yourself and/or another person. Loving-kindness, or Metta, as it’s called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love—a love with wisdom. It has no conditions. It does not depend on whether someone “deserves” it or not. It is not restricted to friends and family, rather extends out from the personal to include all living beings.
- Wherever you’re at, take a seat, close your eyes, and bring awareness to your breath.
- Breathing in and out from the heart center, begin by generating a kind, loving feeling toward yourself.
- Feel any areas of mental blockage or numbness, self-judgment or self-hatred.
- Then drop beneath that to the place where you care for yourself, where you want strength and health and safety for yourself. Choose one of the following phrases (or make one up for yourself) and silently say …
- May I be filled with loving kindness
- May I be well
- May I be peaceful and at ease
- May I be truly happy
- Next, choose someone that you care for deeply or, on the contrary, who you feel most challenged by, and repeat the phrase, exchanging “I” with “you.”
- May you be filled with loving kindness
- May you be well
- May you be peaceful and at ease
- May you be truly happy
- Then expand your awareness to the entire planet and radiate the loving kindness to all living beings.
- May all beings be filled with loving kindness
- May all beings be well
- May all beings be peaceful and at ease
- May all beings be truly happy
- At the end, slowly open your eyes, take a couple moments to center yourself, and continue on with your day.
Hakalau or Peripheral Meditation
Hakalau, a traditional Hawaiian meditation, is an open-eye or waking meditation. Haka means “to focus in” and lau means “to spread out.” This ancient meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system through accessing peripheral vision and the alpha brain wave pattern—which is a fancy way of saying it helps you to reduce stress and relax. And it’s fair to say everyone could use a little more of that.
- If possible, go outside. If not, the bigger the room the easier this will be.
- Start by taking four deep breaths in through the nose and gently exhale through the mouth.
- Start to lengthen the exhale, making it about twice as long as the inhale. This will help to bring focus and attention.
- Pick a spot on the wall to look at, preferably above eye level.
- As you stare at this spot, let your mind go loose, and focus all of your attention on the spot.
- Notice that, within a matter of moments, your vision begins to spread out and you see more in the peripheral than you do in the central part of your vision.
- Now, pay more attention to the peripheral than to the central part of your vision, without redirecting your gaze.
- Practice staying in this state for as long as you can and simply notice how it feels.
- When your timer goes off, slowly open your eyes, take a couple moments to center yourself, and continue on with your day.
Hiolani or Light Meditation
The Hiolani meditation is another traditional Hawaiian meditation that focuses on the light. Hio means "to lean” and lani means “above" or “heavens." Many ancient cultures believed that we are beings of light, and this meditation helps you to connect with the light inside you.
- Find a comfortable place to sit in a chair or on the ground.
- Darken the room, or cover the eyes so that no external light gets in.
- If you wish, begin by doing 2 to 3 minutes of Ha breathing—slow, deep inhalation through the nose, with slow, deep exhalation through the mouth making a “ha” sound.
- With your eyes closed, roll the eyes up and to the right, then up and to the left, and then straight up to the heavens.
- Focus the eyes (without strain) as if looking up toward the space between the eyebrows. You can roll the eyes up even more if it is comfortable.
- If you’ve practiced Hakalau meditation (as described above), remember the feeling and take that into this meditation with you.
- As you look up to the space between the eyebrows, focus on the light. If it’s not there right away, that’s okay. Keep in mind that anything other than darkness is the light.
- When you begin to notice the light come in, just let go and observe it. If there are other thoughts, and light is still there, that's okay.
- Whenever you realize that you’re not focusing on the light, just bring your attention back to it.
- When your time goes off, slowly open your eyes, take a couple moments to center yourself, and continue on with your day.