Zen — and finding it — simply means slowing down. Imagine your day as a movie. Where, in all that rush and activity, can you push pause or slow down the frame? Figuring that out is finding Zen as you move. Here are 10 quick ways to find stillness amid the chaos anytime.
1. Close your eyes.
It’s simple, really: Anytime you want, you can stop and pull the blinds shut, turning your gaze inward. When you do this, you are looking into the beautiful darkness of you, and it is the first step toward becoming more grounded or Zen.
2. Count to 10.
You can almost hear your mother’s voice when you read this one, can’t you? I can. When faced with a stressful moment, stop and count to 10. It worked when you were little, and it works now. Add deep ujjayi breaths (an ancient yoga breathing method to help calm the mind) when you really need to slow down.
3. Take deep breaths with a mantra.
First, find your breath. Don’t move so fast that you take it for granted. Notice it. Find moments in your day when you can breathe while taking note. And if you can, add let and go to the breath. Pull a big inhale in through your nose, filling up your belly from the bottom of you all the way up to the top of you. Say to yourself let. Then exhale the breath out your nose from top to bottom, saying to yourself go.
Repeating this mindful breathing with a mantra increases your focus, slows your heart rate and contributes to a feeling of balance and grounding. (Wear your mantra for an extra reminder with these empowering lucy shirts.)
4. Do something silly. Laugh.
Zen happens when we are relaxed, and we are relaxed when we are happy. Somehow, as we get older, we do fewer silly things and we smile and belly-laugh less often. Laughing is good medicine; happiness is the place where Zen lives.
Have a spontaneous dance party in your undies tomorrow morning. Skip instead of walking. See if you can say the word “fart” without smiling. Do some of this each day. It’s good for you, and it will help you find a sense of Zen, I promise.
5. Walk or bike instead of driving.
When was the last time you took a walk instead of driving? Or grabbed your bicycle and headed our for your morning coffee? Every morning, I ride my bike to the local coffee shop instead of driving, and some mornings I take a walk.
In addition to stimulating your heart a bit and creating an opportunity for deep, fresh breaths, you’re removing yourself from the stress that comes with driving a car. Doing just a bit of exercise each day is good for your heart and your disposition, and the mocha at the other end becomes guilt-free, too!
6. Be an early bird.
The morning hours are the quietest, and finding some “you time” then can set the tone for your entire day. Set your alarm a bit early one day a week and build some really yummy early morning “you time” into your weekly schedule. Use this time to journal, meditate, or work out. You won’t be sorry.
7. Take a five-minute pause (dhyana).
Meditation can happen in just a few minutes, and those few minutes can be life-changing. Set aside five minutes each day to do a mini-meditation session. Sit in a comfortable seated position; close your eyes; begin taking deep, full breaths in and out through your nose; close your eyes; and add a mantra.
To keep careful tabs on the time without an alarm, grab a mala (string of beads) at a local boutique or online, and use it to count the breaths and stay focused.
8. Set reminders for “NOW.”
We move so, so fast with so, so many appointments and meetings and responsibilities. Put a daily reminder in your calendar to help you stop and notice “NOW.” Add a beautiful photo, a theme song, or just a little quote to your reminder so that when it pops up, you know it’s your reminder to savor the exact place you are in at that moment.
9. Let go.
Holding on to anything — I said anything — means you aren’t present and wide open. Practice letting go in small ways.
10. Choose Zen.
“Think. Say. Do.” Every action is first a thought. Every thought has an intention. Set a clear and positive intention to “find Zen” in your everyday life. Think it, say it, and do it.
Originally published for mindbodygreen