office cubicle blue CC mark sebastian

Let’s face it: the pressure to develop a meditation practice to alleviate stress can, ironically, stress you out even more.

Meditating for 30 minutes immediately upon waking just isn’t going to happen for many of us…so why not try meditating at work?

You don’t even have to close your eyes to do it.

Instead of checking Facebook on your coffee break, try one of these techniques during the day and you could literally change your life.

Sitting In Your Cube Meditation office desk CC Dushan Hanuska

You might be surprised to learn that not all types of meditation require the eyes to be fully closed.

In some forms of practice like Zazen meditation, it is common practice to sit with the eyes about halfway closed. Try doing this for 5 minutes at a time: sit in your office chair with a straight back and your feet flat on the floor and focus your eyes on a fixed spot in front of you—the months-old dirty fingerprint on your wall is likely the best spot.

Now, place your attention on your breath. Notice when sounds, or a sense of discomfort, or activity in the periphery, have hooked your attention and pulled your mind off into a to do list. When this happens, and it invariably will, gently guide your focus back to your breath. Try doing this for 5 minutes at 3 pre-set times during your workday.

Use a timer app on your phone like to keep track so you don’t have to watch the clock.

figure on recycle bin CC honeyabTrash Room Next to Service Elevator Meditation

I initially found this room whilst searching for a place to take a private phone call.

Open office plans leave no consideration for the person who wants to be alone, but I found this rarely trafficked area on my office floor to be an oasis for spiritual time in corporate America.

Turns out, the only folks I ever saw when I was using the space to meditate were the Muslim elevator operator who regularly gave me the thumbs up sign, and my mailroom guy who happens to be fully immersed in Japanese Martial Arts. It’s amazing the deep connections you can make with people when you are in the process of taking care of yourself.

This can be a 15-minute guided meditation using audio on your phone. Set your timer app for 15 minutes, straighten your back, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Try a 10 – 15 minute guided meditation or insight talk from great apps like Headspace and Dharma Seed – or podcasts like Radio Headspace, Tara Brach or Dharmapunx NYC. Meditation music is also useful to drown out any background noise and focus you back inward.

Note: this meditation can be alternately be done in the archive room, the supply closet or, with a little bribery to the IT department in the form of home baked cookies, the server room.

staircase CC Elliott Brown

Bodhisattva: The Uppermost Stairwell Meditation

Just ride the elevator to the top floor, find the door to the stairs, and walk up as high as you can go. Bring a bottle of water and your cell phone.

If might be hot if you’re in a skyscraper, so opt for a lower floor. Nobody is likely to bother you while you’re in the zone.

Tip: recurring reminders in your calendar help you to remember to take these time-outs.

And if anyone catches you, just tell them you’re increasing your productivity, because meditation will help you do that, too.

Photos CC: Mark Sebastian, honeyab, Dushan Hanuska.

Deborah Linehan is a mindfulness meditation facilitator, personal development coach and humorist living in New York City. 

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