How to Schedule a Mini Meditation Retreat…on Your Lunch Break!
We’ve all had that work day that is so frantic and stress-filled, you look back on the previous few hours and realize you have literally forgotten to breathe because you’ve been trying to do too much in too short a time span. Whether you work in a high pressure office environment, are a self-employed entrepreneur, or a worn out stay-at-home mom, you know these days.
These are the 8-000-steps-on-the-pedometer-before-11am, forgetting-where-you-left-your-coffee-and-its-in-your-hand, completely-forget-to-drink-water, barely-get-through-the-morning-in-one-piece kind of days. These are the days you get to lunch hour and realize, “I can’t continue like this. I won’t make it through this day.” When I worked at the business school, I was all too familiar with these types of days. And, even as an at-home entrepreneur, I still have these days. I have three kids. It’s going to happen!
I have found that morning meditation absolutely does help to fuel my work days, but sometimes a 5-10 minute morning meditation is not going to cut it. Some days, I need a little something extra. To be honest, there are days that are not even super busy (nothing like I mentioned above), but I just feel like something is….off. Just not right. And I can’t put my finger on it. I feel disconnected from myself and others. On these days, I daydream about flying away to some other place…to a serene and beautiful meditation retreat in the mountains, where I can sit in solitary bliss with nature for 48 hours.
There are certainly opportunities for this, few and far between. But, unfortunately, on most days, life demands I pay attention to it and fulfill my responsibilities. It was on one such day that I discovered a wonderful little secret: You can create a mini meditation retreat on your lunch hour!
Here are some steps to create your own lunch break mini meditation retreat:
Utilize your surroundings.
Any time it’s possible, I like to get outside. There is something about the beauty of nature, fresh air filling my lungs, and the sun on my skin that causes my mind to drift away from all thoughts of work, stress, or frustration. I was so thrilled to find a precious little meditation spot right outside of my office, complete with gently trickling stream and tiny waterfall!
I have to say I am blessed to work near one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. I cherish this gift and I completely understand that this sort of thing is not available for everyone where they work, but that’s OK. You can almost always find a place that works!
I have had mini lunch break meditation retreats outside at a picnic table on a busy road with hundreds of students walking by, in a bookstore or coffee shop, at the public library, in an empty office in my building with the lights turned off so no one will know I’m there, and…even in my car! Play around with this and get creative!
Some people require total silence to meditate and others are OK with some motion around them because it acts as white noise. Selecting your location could depend heavily on whether you choose to listen to music or go solo sans earbuds.
Prepare ahead of time.
Because you have a limited amount of time on your lunch break (either 30 minutes or 60 minutes), you will want to do a small amount of prep ahead of time. Obviously, you will need to make sure you have time to eat your lunch. I have, at times, eaten lunch at my desk while I was working so I could devote my full “lunch break” to meditating. This is entirely up to you. Figure out how long it will take to eat, then use the remaining time for your meditation. If you have a 30-minute lunch, it’s OK. You could split the time into 15 minutes for eating and 15 minutes for meditation. Even a small amount of meditation (5 minutes) can create a noticeable difference in your day!
Decide ahead of time whether you will listen to meditation music or a guided meditation.
Helpful Hint: You can find meditation music and guided meditations for free on YouTube! A recent favorite of mine lately is: Beautiful Piano Music 24/7: Study Music, Relaxing Music, Sleep Music, Meditation Music
Or, you can meditate on your own in silence or with the natural sounds around you. Any of these methods will work, as long as you are able to completely focus during your actual meditation.
Since you are working with a limited time frame, make sure you are able to fully immerse yourself in the meditation. To do so, make sure you aren’t somewhere that people could interrupt you and ask you for things and that you are able to go inward without worrying about the time. I would suggest setting an alarm, so you can relax into your meditation and enjoy the full experience. No squint peeking to check and see if it’s almost over!
If you’re in a public setting, you’ll want to be OK with others around you wondering what you’re up to. Who cares about them? This is about you getting centered, so you can be a better version of yourself throughout the rest of the day. It’s important. Give it all you have and you will feel the blessings that come from it.
Set an intention.
When you finish your meditation, set an intention for the rest of your day. It can be something simple like “I will be a more active listener” or “I will follow my joy as I work today” or “I will focus until 5:00”. Whatever it is, put it in the front of your mind as you return to work, calm and collected and empowered. Then, try to remember it for the remainder of the day.
If you try this mini lunchtime meditation retreat, I want to hear your stories about how it worked for you and how the rest of your work day went afterwards! Please leave your comments below and share with the community.
Leah Mullins is the Owner/Founder of The Empathic Explorer, a holistic wellness blog that focuses on creating deep transformation through meaningful connections in our lives. The blog looks at connections with ourselves (health & fitness), the universe (spiritual practices), others (inspiring stories of humanity), and the world (transformative travel). You can find The Empathic Explorer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.