February 3, 2015

Take a Meditation Break!


Include meditation in your daily routine.

Do you ever feel as if you are on a treadmill?

Or as if you are slowly heading towards an outcome that you dread?

Take a meditation break.

When I take a meditation break, I feel invigorated, full of enthusiasm and I have a clear idea as to which way I want to go. Sometimes, it is in a totally different direction from what I imagined before sitting down.

Meditation has opened doors that I did not even know were there. It feels like consulting the larger part of who I am—it is like connecting with the source. A coffee break does not do that for me.

A meditation break can be 15 or 20 minutes long, and it does three essential things:

1. It relaxes you.

The first step in mindfulness meditation is calming the mind. Following the breath, getting in touch with the sensations coming from the body, and just observing your thoughts, instead of following them, relaxes the mind. But mind and body are not separate, and calming the mind also relaxes the body. As the mind feels calmer, it in turn relaxes its grip on the body and lets go. This is essential for relieving feelings of tenseness—a calm mind and a relaxed body go together. You see things more clearly when you are calm and relaxed.

2. It creates perspective.

Perspective is what you get when you move back from something that is close. As you do that, you see the larger picture. You see what is around, and get a feeling of context. You see connections. As you are sipping from it, a coffee mug looks huge—as large as the building across the street. As you move the mug further out, the distorted sense of comparative size that it assumed slowly dissipates. You see the mug in perspective. Something similar happens during a meditation break to issues that loomed large in the stress of the moment.

3. Gets you out of a rut.

When I try to solve the little problems of everyday life in my usual way, my mind may be running around the ruts that created the problem in the first place. A period of meditation stops the running around and gives my mind a break. Then it is possible to start fresh in a new direction. Normally, we look outward, and see problems out there. In meditation, we look inward, and also notice the portion of the problem that we are creating with our attitude. Often our problem attitude is obvious to everyone else, because they are looking outward, and they see us as we are. When we take a meditation break, we also begin to see ourselves more objectively, because in meditation we become observers. We switch from being the thinker to being the one who observes the thinker and her thoughts.

For me, including meditation in my day is a recipe for inspired living.

In a number of workplaces a meditation break is offered as part of the lunch period. A meeting room can be used for this purpose. If presently this is not happening where you work, you can suggest it, for fortunately there is enough research supporting its benefits. I know two people who initiated such a practice at their workplaces.

If you are taking the initiative, you can use a few soft sounds on the bell to start the meditation period. Often people find it helpful to have the bell sound every few minutes, as it helps them to stay on track.

You can also walk instead of sit during your meditation break. Just use part of your lunch period, or the time you have for a coffee break during the workday, but make sure that your mind comes along for the walk also. Do not leave your mind behind, still at work. Walking can be a meditative experience when body and mind are together as you walk.

Oddly enough, for some of us, a meditation break can be easier to fit in during the workday than during the weekend, or during a time when we are not working. During those times we are less careful with our schedule, and less aware of “where time goes.” Or we can just forget. Putting it on the calendar or agenda ahead of time can help.

Integrating a period of meditation in my daily life has been very helpful to me. Meditation is not an activity separate from daily life. My daily life colors the meditation period—I do not meditate in a vacuum, so to speak. And the meditation period informs my day. Each day is different, and so is each meditation period.

I find an added benefit in calling my meditation period a meditation break: this way, instead of sounding like something extra that I have to do, it sounds like a break from doing other things!


Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: Meditation 101.


Author: Joseph Emet

Editor: Travis May

Photo:  Flickr/Sage Ross

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