If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your day slouched in front of a computer, staring at the screen and forgetting that there’s a body attached to your head (until you get hungry or have to pee!). Or perhaps you attend a load of meetings, full of papers, lots of talking, but little else.

Usually by about 2:42 in the afternoon I start to wilt like a flower, desperate for something other than another cup of coffee (although that can also work!) to help me make it through the rest of my day.

This loss of energy can also have knock on effects. For example, it can lead to a loss of perspective if anything urgent or challenging comes up that I don’t have the energy to address. This can further exacerbate an already plummeting drop in motivation.

As a mindfulness practitioner, I’ve learned to introduce quick, easy practices into my day that can help.  These are practices you can do anywhere, anytime, for any length of time to help raise your energy, broaden your perspective, and increase your motivation.

1. TAKING A MINDFUL PAUSE

Pausing may seem like something that would slow us down, but when our energy is low, we aren’t working as effectively as we could be anyhow.

Pausing helps us simply "down tools" for a short period of time to get us out of our heads and into our bodies. We step out of autopilot and take stock of the thoughts, feelings and sensations happening just now, providing space from which to engage for the rest of our day.

Here is a simple guide for pausing, simple to remember as SPACE:

S – STOP whatever you are doing and take a deep breath. As you breathe in allow your awareness to follow the breath into the body. Notice how the body moves with the breath, the chest rising and falling, the belly swelling and contracting. Notice if there is anywhere else you feel the breath in the body. Stay with these sensations for as long as it feels good!

P -  Get a sense of PERSPECTIVE by broadening your awareness to include the sensations of your feet on the floor, bum on the seat (if you are sitting), sounds all around you, and the sensations, thoughts and feelings that are coming and going as you breathe. See if you can simply allow thoughts and feelings to come and go, without getting caught up in them. Like clouds floating across the sky, or leaves on a stream.

A – ACKNOWLEDGE how you are just now, and particularly anything that you may be finding difficult, painful or confusing at the moment. Perhaps there is a worrying thought about something in the future, or a critical thought of something in the past. Perhaps there is a part of your body that is hurting. Whatever it is, rather than trying to get rid of it, see if you can simply notice that it is here and give it a bit of space and kindness. If it feels good, you could do some movements or stretches to release any tension in the body and help bring energy.

C – CONNECT with any sense of well-being in yourself just now. This could be as simple as a sense of being well-nourished (perhaps from the delicious lunch you just had!) or any feelings of peace, calm, or steadiness that comes from stopping, gaining perspective and acknowledging how you are just now.

E – Engage with any place in your body that feels pleasurable or alive, and where there is movement, energy, warmth, tingling, maybe even a sense of excitement. Let your awareness dwell in those sensations and allow them to come to the forefront of your attention. You may even allow yourself to enjoy them for a while!

Finally, commit to bringing whatever energy comes from this practice into the rest of your day.

2. DOING SOME MINDFUL MOVEMENT

We’ve all been to that all day meeting where at some point (usually when heads start nodding) the facilitator asks us to stand up and stretch as a way to break up the hum drum and get some energy going in the room.

But how often do we remember to do this during our working day? The next time you feel like you might turn into a puddle on the floor, remember that even a couple of minutes of mindful movement can make the difference between a long slog or light gallop to the end of the day.

Here are some simple movements you can do that don’t require any special outfits or gear and can be done sitting or standing.

HEAD ROLLS – as always, start with bringing awareness to the breath. Imagine a pencil on the tip of your nose and begin drawing circles in the air with it. You can coordinate the breath with the movement by breathing in for half a circle and breathing out for the other half. Increase the speed and size of your circles in any way that feels good. Notice any sensations in the neck, back and shoulder as you do this. And don’t forget to reverse direction.

WRIST ROTATIONS – this is a great one for those who spend hours typing away on a keyboard. Hold the lower arm with the opposite hand. On an in breath, begin rotating the wrist of the arm you’re holding, noticing any sensations in the fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and back. As with the head rolls, you can coordinate the breath by breathing in and out on the half rotations. Increase speed and size of rotations as you like and remember to reverse direction and switch arms.

SHOULDER ROLLS – Another one for keyboards, especially if you tend to slouch. On an in breath, roll the shoulders forward and up, and on the out breath roll then back and down. Notice (and maybe hear!) any sensations in the shoulders, chest, back, and arms. Reverse direction if you’d like.

Of course, nothing beats getting up from your desk, stepping away from the computer and taking yourself for a walk. You might even try going outside!


3. LOOK UP

This is probably the simplest thing we can do to break up the monotony of screen time, give our eyes a break, and stimulate our capacity for abstraction, which increases motivation by helping us see things in a new way.

Looking up also gives us an immediate sense of perspective and broadened horizons. If you’re able, it works best if you can actually look up at the sky. Spend some time allowing your gaze to soften, not focusing on anything in particular, and soak up the beauty of the blue expanse above, or if there are clouds, how they keep changing.

No matter what you do, trust in your own sense of what will work best for you and try to build it into your daily routine. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Singhashri Gazmuri - Breathworks Head of Innovations

 

 

 

 

 

You can also try a 3-minute breathing space meditation here: