Life is fast-paced and frantic, so you listen to the radio as you drive, watch TV while you eat, plan your day in the shower and even answer e-mails as you talk on the phone.
Yes, you probably get more done, but you're also more frazzled and fraught than ever before. So isn't it time to stop (albeit brie?y) and discover the restorative power of the regular micro-break?
The five-minute miracle
Mindfulness – or being in the moment – is the basis of all meditative processes, and meditation is the key to the micro-break that best revives you. The quick and easy trick is to practise mindfulness by focusing on one sense at a time, for just five minutes.
Start now: every few hours, step away from what you're doing and, as described below, take ?ve minutes to focus on one sense. Your other senses will fight to intrude, but that's fine. As long as your mind settles on your chosen focus, you'll feel as refreshed as if you've just had a nap.
Ever noticed how babies watch small things? They can be enraptured by leaves moving in the sunlight, or a ladybird climbing a blade of grass. Find something that stills you and focus on it. Give yourself over to just looking at one thing for a few minutes. When your mind wanders, bring it back.
Anyone who’s been deprived of hot water for a while can tell you what an exquisite experience a shower can be. Use the experience as a meditative moment – really concentrate on how the warm water slides over your body. Get a natural sea sponge, body exfoliant and olive oil soap and concentrate on the various sensations on your skin.
It's the most underrated but most evocative sense of all. Find a patch of sunny lawn and sit for a few minutes. lnhale the scents of the grass, damp earth and dry leaves. Let these smells of childhood take you back to a carefree time.
Take five minutes longer over your lunch today. Don't eat it at your desk or on the run, rather sit comfortably and savour every bite. Think about what you're eating – not in the usual calorie/fat/sugar way, but with regard to the flavours and textures in your mouth.
Walk outside (or onto a balcony) in the very early morning, right after waking, and just stand for ?ve minutes, absorbing the sounds. You might hear birdsong, a dog barking or the sound of distant traf?c. Don’t judge one sound as better than another. Just listen to the neighbourhood you belong to and take that belonging with you as you head into the day.
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