Not too long ago—and yet, it feels like another lifetime—my two-hour train and bus rides to work, and long days once I got there, were starting to wear me out. I don’t think I fully comprehended just how much energy the commutes were taking out of me. Until I did.
To help, I tried several things: listening to podcasts on my commute, a quick midday workout, but I couldn’t shake that out-of-sorts feeling. I considered trying a daily meditation routine—my friends had boundless ideas and apps to offer—but the problem was that most required setting aside 20 minutes of my time each day. I did not have 20 minutes (I did, but I didn't...you know?). Or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by the idea of sitting still, in complete silence, for long stretches of time.
And then I remembered.
A year prior, I had completed a yoga teacher training in Thailand. Amid the in-depth study of yogic philosophy and asanas, our teacher slipped in a really simple exercise that caught my attention—a technique that was folded into the session on breathwork. It wasn’t something that explicitly screamed “meditation” but I remember feeling great after, and thinking: “Is this the feeling of stillness that people speak of?”
I decided to give it another try, not least because I remembered it taking less than a minute. Yes—just one minute. I’ll admit at first I was slightly dismissive of any long-lasting effects, because, I mean, could 60 seconds really make that much of a difference?
I figured I could give it a week and see if I felt something…anything. By the third day, the feeling of sleepwalking through my days was gone. By the fourth, I started to feel much more present and my energy levels were up. By day seven, I thought: “This is meditation...THIS is the feeling of a quiet mind." I was finally getting a grip on that abstract concept of mindfulness, and understanding that taking a moment to check in with my breath and body was how I could get there.
I don’t think I would have ever tried to make meditation a more natural part of my everyday routine if I hadn’t given this a chance. But most of all, it taught me that, sometimes, the best thing you can do during a hectic day is simply stop. For just one minute.
Now, it’s your turn.
So, what is it?
It is a Pranayam (breath control) technique called Bhramari Breath, also colloquially known as Bee Breath (think: the sound of a buzzing bee). This breathing method allows you to close off the senses of sound and sight to give yourself a mindful moment pretty much anywhere and anytime.
How to do it
Getting Started: Start with a single round (one inhale and exhale) at the start of your day, setting an intention for the rest of the day. Or, do three rounds in the middle of the day, or whenever you need some calm.
Step 1: Find a comfortable position (sitting is most ideal, but some do it standing or laying down).
Step 2: Place four fingers (excluding your thumbs) over each eye to block out light. Avoid pressing your eyes; you'll just want to press enough to block out the light. You could also cup your fingers in a scoop-like form so as to avoid pressing on your eyes.
Step 3: Place your thumbs on your ears to block out sound.
Step 4: Inhale through the nose, comfortably filling your lungs with air.
Step 5: Exhale through the nose and, at the same time, hum. You will feel a vibration in your throat.
Repeat once more, or in rounds of 3 (3, 6, 9). Once you are finished, remove your hands and slowly open your eyes. Rest for 10 seconds.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below! Feel free to follow me for more tips and variations on how to apply this to specific challenges.