A 12-Minute Meditation to Cultivate Calm and Clarity

This week, Nadene Cherry will guide us through two practices that can help our minds and bodies calm down in the face of stress, anxiety, or overwhelm.


I’m going to guide us through two practices that are uniquely tailored for moments when the world demands more than we might be ready to give. 

Imagine standing at the edge of a calm lake early in the morning, the world around you just waking up, and you’re about to step into an important day filled with challenges and opportunities.

First, we explore the HALT method which stands for Hungry, Agitated, Lonely, or Tired. 

Visualize a hectic day at work: deadlines looming, an overflowing inbox, and meetings back-to-back. Here, HALT prompts a pause. Imagine stepping back, closing your eyes, and taking a deep breath. Ask yourself: “Am I Hungry, Agitated, Lonely, or Tired?” This simple pause can re-anchor you, restoring strength and calm to tackle your day with purpose.

Next, we’ll explore Vagal toning. Picture yourself about to address a large audience, feeling nervous. Vagal toning which helps you focus on your breathing and engage the vagus nerve, calming your body and mind. Each breath eases your nerves, replacing anxiety with tranquility, readying you to speak confidently.

Whether you’re gearing up for a big presentation, or simply need a pause from the everyday rush, these tools are here to meet you right where you are, ready to help you reset and recharge.

A Guided Meditation to Cultivate Calm and Clarity

  1. Begin by finding a comfortable chair. You can sit down in the chair with your feet flat on the ground, and rest in a way that you feel dignified, alert, and present, and most importantly, comfortable. You can close your eyes if you like, or keep your gaze soft and pointed downward.
  2. Take a moment here to settle in to sitting. Feel the ground beneath your feet and the weight of the body being held by the chair. Tune into the sensations of your hands resting comfortably and allow your face to be relaxed. 
  3. Take two simple, deep breaths. No holding necessary. Just breathe in through the nose deeply and let it go slowly out through the mouth. 
  4. Let’s begin the practice of H.A.L.T., starting with the letter H. Check in with your level of hunger, noticing if you’re feeling full, hungry, or just right. And we’re just observing here, noticing with a neutral attitude to whatever is present. By allowing ourselves to tune in to our own hunger or fullness cues, we’re able to take action to nourish ourselves in a way that will make us feel our best.
  5. Next, we move on to A, agitated. Oftentimes agitation can come in the form of discomfort in clothing. Sounds around you that might be irritating. Even taste in the mouth and smells. So tuning inward here and noticing if there is anything, in fact, that is agitating you. You might feel prompted to adjust your clothing or turn off the notifications around you to support your clarity and focus at work. 
  6. Now moving on to the letter L, which stands for loneliness. Many of us are isolated. We are working from home. We spend a lot of time alone. And this lack of social interaction can creep up on us if we’re not aware. So rank your loneliness now on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being not very lonely and five being lonely. Allow that insight to prompt you to take action, whether that is spending time working in a coffee shop, surrounded by people, or phoning a friend, arranging a gathering. 
  7. And finally, T. T stands for tired. How tired do you feel? Do you feel rested? When we’re tired, it often impedes our ability to think clearly, access our memory, and make important decisions at work, leaving us feeling frustrated and discouraged. Perhaps it’s time to squeeze in even a 15 or 20 minute nap today, which is proven to be the most effective length for a nap.
  8. Our second practice is called vagal toning. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It starts in the brain and goes all the way down to the base of the spine. And it’s important to allow the vagus nerve to be relaxed, because that will allow us to make clear decisions and move from a place of grounded insight. This is a great practice to do before a big meeting, presentation, or call where you might be feeling nervous or overwhelmed.
  9. To practice vagal toning, you take a deep breath in through the nose, and on the exhale you make the sound of a V. That’s it—it’s a very simple practice. After just a few rounds, you should notice the chest feel relaxed and expanded, the body feel calm, and the mind feel more clear.  
  10. These are two practices you can use anytime throughout the day. They can be a quick scan, just 30 seconds or so when you need them, or you can incorporate them into a more formal practice that you do for 5-10 minutes each day.

Thank you for your practice today. I hope you have a peaceful day.

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