A 6-Minute Mindfulness Practice to Relax and Retune After a Hectic Day

On autopilot, we might not notice all the stress we carry around — Explore this brief mindfulness practice to unwind your body and mind.

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In order to deeply relax and be present in life, it’s important to understand how we hold our bodies and where your body falls into stress.

It may be that your body tenses up as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning, or maybe it’s the morning commute, or it could be when you interact with specific people, or when you’re going to bed thinking about all the things that need to get done tomorrow.

Mind bracing can be identified by a flurry of thoughts that are racing through your mind. Body bracing might feel like muscle contraction, like a tightening in the chest, shoulders, or jaw. Your intention here is to simply get curious about what it feels like when your mind or body braces.

Your intention here is to simply get curious about what it feels like when your mind or body braces.

It may be helpful to jot down a list of when you noticed these reactions during your day.

What precipitated these events?

Where do you feel them most in your body?

Practice noticing when and where you brace and then work on actively releasing the tension.

You can do this releasing through a deep breath in and out or by gently stretching in a way that helps the body and mind release. Or try a Relax and Retune Meditation Practice to slow down and release tension.

Relax and Retune Meditation Practice

  1. You can do this practice either seated or lying down, with your eyes either open or closed. Starting off with a couple deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth, just a sense of releasing the moment we came from to this moment right now. Allowing your awareness to descend fully into the body, allowing your body to completely soften, relaxing any muscles in your face, your eyes, your forehead, your cheeks.
  2. Then notice how your body is naturally breathing, not needing to exert any effort at all. If you can learn how to breath, you can learn how to relax. Breathe in, and have the awareness that you’re breathing in. Breathing out and just relaxing, releasing any tension, any holding in the body. Breathing in, with this sense of knowing that you’re breathing in. Breathing out, releasing any busyness of mind, any clutter in the mind, and just letting be.
  3. Continuing with this practice for a few moments, just an awareness of the breath coming in and the sense of releasing, relaxing the body. If at any point during this practice the mind wanders, the first step is just to notice the wandering, and then soften the body.
  4. As you’re settling in to being here, just allow your awareness to fill the body completely. Settle into the whole body, a sense of being here, relaxed yet awake.
  5. As you come to the end of the practice, just notice how you’re feeling now. How your body is feeling, how you’re feeling emotionally, and just take a moment to acknowledge yourself for creating this space to engage in this, for your own health and well-being.
  6. Bring your awareness now to your face, gently allowing the light to seep through, and open your eyes if they are closed.

You’ll be imperfect at this, don’t worry. Like learning to ride a bike or play an instrument, the more you learn where you brace and the more you practice releasing, the better and better you’ll get at it.

The key is continuity.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is hosting an online course to help people fully integrate mindfulness into their lives in a deep way in order to realize more enduring change. The in-depth 6-month online course called A Course in Mindful Living runs in October 2018—the waitlist is now open.