How To Meditate At The Office
Yurina Kim is the founder of yoga and lifestyle brand YURIYASA, which aims to join together fashion and comfort for busy, active, and stylish women. Below, Yurina is sharing her guide to meditating at the office and becoming more mindful, even when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Mindfulness is a word we hear all the time, but what does it all really mean, and how can we realistically incorporate this into our already packed schedules?
First, set aside the preconceptions and worries you have for now so you give yourself a chance, because you’re totally capable of at least one of the exercises you’ll see below.
Mindfulness isn’t always meditation or clearing your thoughts, and meditation doesn’t mean your eyes are closed or you need to know how to sit in lotus pose with incense nearby. It’s about moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, body sensations, feelings, and your surrounding environment. It’s about paying attention to what’s happening around you and within you with more acceptance and less judgement. It’s time to let go of the self-criticism, even for one minute!
Distractions can serve a purpose by ‘saving’ us from our thoughts, but practicing mindfulness will help you develop a sympathetic relationship with your thoughts rather than suppressing them. We’ve trained ourselves to be on autopilot to manage the million things we have going on, but the dark side of this is that we become more mindless than mindful. Mindfulness helps you become more awakened and alive, to keep your mind focused when everything else feels chaotic, and has pretty amazing health benefits. Mindful awareness lowers stress, improves mental health, decreases blood pressure and aids in the healthy aging of cells (um, yes please).
Breaking habitual patterns is HARD, and adding meditation into your day is part of breaking whatever rituals you have ingrained in you. So let’s start with something short and readily accessible for you.
Tip 1: Pause, Breathe, Continue
Lucky for us, we already possess this tool. Our breath is something we take for granted because we know we’re breathing, but have you ever noticed how shallow or fast your breathing becomes when you’re stressing out?
How to do it:
- Find a comfortable place to sit. If you’re feeling good in your office chair, perfect! Close your eyes or choose a spot on the floor or desk to focus your gaze.
- Be still and focus on your breath. Notice your current emotional and physical state. Are you clenching your teeth? Feeling anxious? Is your breath shallow and fast?
- Breathe deeper. Starting taking longer breaths in through your nose and slow breaths out through your mouth. Feel your breath as the fresh air passes through your nose and mouth, filling up your chest and releasing. Every inhale is new, fresh energy. Every exhale is a release.
- If your mind starts wandering, simply recognize it, accept it, and refocus your attention to breathing deeply and fully at a steady pace.
- After several minutes, slowly open your eyes and bring your awareness to your surroundings. Your surroundings haven’t changed, but you have. Your breath can be your most powerful tool.
Tip 2: Pick An Object & Focus On It
Open-eye meditation allows you to seamlessly include meditation into your daily routine. It’s also a lot less pressure.
Some of us have wildly vivid imaginations, and when we close our eyes, the mind creates visual images that can cause even more distraction. It’s also a way to keep yourself in the world rather than shutting yourself out for when you need a moment of serenity.
How to do it:
Use an object that’s steady—it can be anything from a tree outside your window, your coffee mug, or even a rock. Hold your attention on this object like it’s the only thing that matters in this moment. Look at it like it’s the most interesting thing that you’ve seen all day, as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen something like it. Let everything else in the room fall away into a white space so the only thing left in the room is you and that object. Use that energy to create a meaningful connection.
Tip 3: Gratitude Toward Anything You Come Into Contact With
We create our realities. Appreciate the things you usually don’t take a moment to notice. This is an exercise to shift your level of awareness and perspective about what’s right in front of you.
The next time you eat lunch, think about every detail of your lunch. Let’s say you’re eating a salad. Notice every ingredient in the salad, from the type of greens to the dressing. Think about how amazing it is that all of these components found their way to you; the hands that tended to the plants, the drivers who transported the vegetables, the person at the restaurant that carefully put your order together, all the way down to the sun and animals who provided nourishment for the soil your where your food grew.
Other daily seemingly mundane things to bring more gratitude toward can be:
- Brushing your teeth
- Taking a shower
- Setting up the dinner table
- Driving to work (think about how much less road rage and accidents there would be if everyone took a moment to breathe and emphatically recognize that we are all trying to get somewhere)
Start by doing this once a day, and eventually this recognition will lead to a higher level of gratitude at the top of your consciousness.
Tip 4: Fully Engage
Pick one activity per day that you put all your energy into. This is a practice to help you focus without getting easily distracted by the million distractions vying for your attention every minute of the day.
Go for a walk for five minutes and relish that walk like it’s your only job. Feel the fresh air flowing into your nostrils, notice the tree you might have missed because your podcast took your attention during this same walk, smile at the people who you encounter, listen to the hum of the city, and so on.
Next time you eat a snack at work, try eating it away from your desk so nothing is distracting you from enjoying this moment. The more you engage with these activities you often take for granted, the more appreciative and relaxed you'll feel.
Tip 5: Name Your Feeling
When you feel something, recognize and name it. If you’re feeling anxious, say to yourself, “Hi, Anxiousness". If you’re annoyed, call it out. When you put a name to a feeling, it moves from emotion to logic. The feeling loses its emotional power over you. With the emotion at bay, you create space to use facts rather than overthinking and overanalyzing based off emotion. Imagine a world where your day isn’t dictated by anxiety!
Tip 6: Moving Meditation
Many of the yoga poses you’ve done in class can be modified to do at your desk. The same principles apply even if you’re not on a mat - focusing on your breath with movement is in itself meditation. This is a nice alternative if you just want to find peace through your body rather than your brain (even though it does ultimately help calm your brain down too!).
Here Are a Few Poses To Get you started:
- Seated Cat/Cows
- Knee to chest
- Seated spinal twist
- Overhead stretch
Comment below with how you destress during busy days, and be sure to check out Yurina's brand YURIYASA too!