No matter how hectic or stressful our days are, whether we’re sitting at our desks or waiting in line, we have the opportunity to pause and adjust our perspective.
We have the opportunity to be kinder — both to ourselves and others. We have the opportunity to relax and slow down. And we have the opportunity to refocus. Even if it’s for a minute or two.
In her book Self-Meditation: 3,299 Mantras, Tips, Quotes and Koans for Peace and Serenity, bestselling author Barbara Ann Kipfer offers a wealth of inspiration for practicing kindness and breathing in the beauty of daily moments and the miracles that are our lives.
Here are 20 of my favorite suggestions from her book.
1. Let small chores act as a stop sign to “breathe, relax and experience peace.”
2. Sit down and “become a human still life.” Don’t do anything. Just breathe.
3. When you’re driving, focus solely on that experience. “Feel the steering wheel, the pedals, the seat.”
4. “Listen for the quietest sound.”
5. Focus on your sense of smell. Take something you’d like to smell, such as a flower or food, and put it up close to your nose. Notice the changes in the aroma. Focus on the sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale. Then try to focus on other fragrances around you throughout the day.
6. Focus on your sense of touch. Focus on the sensation of your hands touching each other, “your clothes brushing against your skin, and the air moving across your face.”
7. In the beginning of the week, pick an activity you normally do on autopilot, such as washing your hands, applying makeup or getting into your car. Pause for several seconds before starting the activity. Then perform it with your full attention.
8. “Imagine that you are a kite soaring in the sky. Surrender to the wind, but be aware of the string that anchors you to the ground and keeps you safe.”
9. When you’re performing a chore, focus your full attention on your hands. “Note all the sensations in your fingers, your palms, and your wrists.”
10. Send yourself some loving-kindness (or “meta”). Focus your attention on an aspect of your mind or body that you feel separated from. Acknowledge this. You might say something like: “May I accept this. May I be filled with loving-kindness toward this. May I use the pain of this experience for the welfare of all.”
11. As you’re trying to fall asleep, “imagine that with each breath you are melting into an ocean of light and space.”
12. When you turn on the faucet, focus on the bigger picture. “See the water flowing down from the glaciers and mountains, running deep into the earth, sustaining you and all life.”
13. When you wake up, feel your feet touch the floor. “Be aware of their weight, the floor supporting your body, and the motion of your feet and legs as you begin to walk.”
14. When you get home from work, every day, stand in front of your door and appreciate the moment. Rejoice in it. “Breathe in and out three times.”
15. Set an alarm to ring every hour to remind yourself to “wake up and appreciate the miracle of every moment. Say, ‘[Your name], wake up!”
16. Picture your thoughts as balloons floating by.
17. Visualize a mountain lake with a smooth, glassy surface. A breeze sends ripples across the water. As the breeze quiets down, so do the ripples, and the water returns to being smooth. When something ruffles you, return to this visualization. “Feel the ripples and then let them settle.”
18. Think of your mind as a swinging door. “Thoughts and feelings come in and out, like people. Be the door, not the doorman.”
19. Picture a person or pet you love greatly. Imagine they’re “giving you a look that melts your heart.” Think about the things you love most about them. With each breath you take, let your heart fill with love. “Imagine your two souls connected by the caring you have for each other.”
20. “See yourself as a small child, fragile and vulnerable, and breathe in. Smile with love to this small child within yourself, and breathe out.”