The difference three minutes can make
It’s Monday, the week is in full flow and you’re already playing catch-up. I hear you. At the end of this week is Father’s Day and as I also run a stationery and gift business I’m busy packaging up Father’s Day gifts and posting them out as quickly as I can. The hours are zipping by and there’s no time to even catch my breath.
Or is there?
Because I’m mid-way through my Month of Self-Care project I’m paying more attention than usual to how I’m feeling and what I’m doing. Last night as I was taking empty cardboard boxes to the garage I realised I had been on the go all day. We went out for a few hours during the day but since our return I had worked on orders, stopping for dinner and then getting straight back to it.
I have my self-care checklist and I kept telling myself that I’d do something on it later. After I’ve done this. Or that. But as I walked back through the garden from the garage I noticed how the clouds had cleared up and how calm and still it felt.
So I stopped in my tracks and stood there for a moment. I took a deep breath in, right from the bottom of my lungs, and then slowly exhaled. I did that a couple of more times and had a big stretch. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds around me – cars driving by, birds chattering, the river flowing. Then I noticed how my body was feeling – my feet firm on the ground, my shoulders a little achey, the feel of my jeans against my legs. I didn’t judge how I felt or try to change it, I just noticed it.
And then I focused on my breathing. I could feel my stomach pressing against my belt as I breathed in and easing back as I breathed out. I stayed with my breath for a few moments more and then moved my attention back to the sounds I could hear around me.
I took a final deep breath in and out, opened my eyes and had another big stretch.
Wow, I felt better! And that took me less than three minutes.
210 seconds and I went from being totally in my head, thinking about the busy week ahead and that I should have stayed in all day to work rather than go out with my husband, to feeling calm, relaxed and noticing what a lovely evening it was.
In the space of three minutes I made myself feel so much better than if I had continued to push on. I didn’t set aside a chunk of time or do anything complicated. I simply stopped to breathe, notice what was going on around me, and inside me, for a couple of minutes.
So, however hectic a day you’re having, stop and take three minutes to recalibrate. Here’s how to take your Three Minute Pause:
• you don’t have to move out of the space you’re in, you don’t have to close your eyes
• take a few deep breaths in and out, really breathe into your belly and push out from there to properly fill up and empty your lungs
• listen to the sounds around you
• move your attention to how your body feels
• don’t judge or try to change anything
• focus on your breath, notice where you feel the movement the most – your nose, your chest, your stomach
• count each breath if it helps
• when you notice your mind has wandered (it will and that’s normal) simply bring your attention back to your breath
• move your attention back to what you can hear around you
• take another couple of deep breaths in and out
• have a big stretch, smile to yourself for taking this precious break, and carry on with your day
If you’d like an audio recording to follow rather than trying to remember what you’ve read here you can find a three-minute breathing meditation in the Nook of Inspiration. Simply sign up for free access here. There’s also another three minute meditation in my free Seven Days of Happiness e-course. And that’s what the three minute pause described above is – a meditation. But there’s no sitting cross-legged chanting ohm in my meditations. (Unless you want to do that in which case go right ahead!)
You can take these three minutes at any time when you’re feeling your day is pressing down on you. As soon as I hit publish on this post I’m going to use that as a prompt to take my mini-meditation pause.
I’d love to hear how you get on with taking this three minute pause in your day so leave a comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS I was enjoying the moment outside last night so didn’t think to snap a pic. The one above is from a few weeks ago, on another particularly lovely evening.