Drop everything. Pause for just 30 seconds. This is all the time you need to refocus and center yourself. And we know what you're probably thinking (because we were thinking it, too): 30 seconds seems like a small window of time to essentially dismiss your life's chaos. We understand your skepticism.
However, this 4-step "mindful pause" outlined by Jon Krop, a lawyer and meditation teacher from New York City (who also, in a balanced marriage of his passions, leads Mindfulness for Lawyers workshops) is something like a "spot treatment" - for when you feel the colossal mass of the world pressing against your chest, for when you feel doomed, stressed, and about to collapse under your own anxiety.
The first step is to take a deep breath.
Take a slow inhale from the bottom of your lungs to the top, slowly filling your torso and, finally, your chest. There is a connection between breath and mood, and slow, deep-breathing fosters a feeling of calmness.
The second step is to turn toward your body.
This may sound a little complex, but it's really all about focusing on the small sensations of your body - whatever you're feeling, whether it's the material of your clothing against your skin, or the coolness of a breeze rippling mellowly through your hair. All you need to do is focus on these sensations and watch them, and if you happen to feel sensations connected to stress and anxiety, then all the better. Watching them, as opposed to resisting them, will help you pass through them, and them through you. This step can last for one in-breath or one out-breath, and if you choose to stay here longer than that, then feel free to.
The third step is to focus on your breath.
Focusing on the sensation of air entering through your nostrils roots you in the present moment. At this stage, allow your body to breathe however it chooses to. Like the previous step, this one can last for as long as you need it to.
The last step is to carry on with your life
Re-engage with the world, remembering there's no need to do this in a hurry. Try to keep the calmness that you created; keep your rootedness. Don't feel pressured to hurry back into the world; take your time, and fall in slowly.
But is this for me?
What's perfect about this mindful pause is that it's fast, and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Krop notes that the most difficult part of the mindful pause isn't in completing the process itself, but in remembering to do it.
Our days are cluttered and over-saturated with things - work things and personal things and commitments and deadlines and responsibilities - and feelings of anxiety and stress are always there; they will come, and they will go.
Remembering to take 30 seconds to deeply breathe, to channel ourselves, and to turn towards our feelings and watch them isn't always on the agenda, but re-engaging with ourselves throughout the day guides us through challenging emotions, reminding us that we are transcendent.