‘The minute I learned to unplug, my whole life changed’ – if this sounds like an overstatement, it is probably because you haven’t tried Suze Yalof Schwartz’s genius stripped-down approach to meditation yet.
If you think meditation is too complicated/too weird, that you don’t have time for it or that you couldn’t possibly stand still for a few minutes without succumbing to boredom or a terrible feeling of guilt prepare to have your outlook on meditation completely blown.
Creator of the first secular drop-in meditation studio in the world, Suze first came to meditation the same way many of us have: experiencing an overwhelming sense of stress. In her case, this was caused by having to deal with a bi-coastal commute, juggling the lives of three young and highly energetic children and trying to spend time with her husband. Her mother-in-law, who is a psychotherapist, suggested she tried a simple breathing exercise – Suze was so impressed by the amazing shift in her attitude and state of mind that she embarked on a journey to find the best meditation practices and studios available in Los Angeles.
What she found along the way were far too many approaches to the discipline and nowhere to pop-in to actually meditate during her busy workdays – and that’s how Unplug was born. She started her studio to share meditation in its simplest, cleanest form, taking the practice from esoteric to accessible and creating a place that would apply to busy, modern people.
You have probably heard of the virtually infinite benefits of meditating: it will make you happier, healthier and more effective; meditating physically rewires your brain to make you more focused, productive and focus, while reducing anxiety, stress and anger… in Suze’s words: ‘it helps you clear away the clutter and chaos in your brain hat lead to the clutter and chaos in your life, so everything flows better’ – but how can we actually do it? While we wait for her Unplug studios to become available in every major city, Suze has condensed her approach to meditation and the best techniques she devised in her new book: Unplug – A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers.
In the second section of her book, ‘Unplug and Recharge’, Suze includes 5 Daily Meditation exercises we can incorporate into our busy routines: these mini meditations are the ideal way to get in little hints of focus, calm and joy throughout your day. You can pick and choose the ones you need whenever you need them: they are all under five minutes and you can find recordings of each one of them on unplugmeditation.com.
Here’s a simplified guide to these Daily Meditations.
1 The Unplug Meditation
Time it takes: Less than 1 minute
Ideal for: A quick reconnect with yourself
Use this when: You want a little hit of that meditation magic
Here are your steps, which spell out the word UNPLUG:
- U = Unplug your devices and from any tasks you’re doing.
- N = Notice how you’re feeling.
- P = Pick a point of focus (your breath, or a mantra, object, or visualization).
- L = Let it go.
- U = Understand that thoughts will come and go.
- G = Get on with your day!
2 The Savoring Meditation
Time it takes: 1 minute
Ideal for: Slowing down, appreciating the moment, and experiencing food joy
Try this when: You’re beginning a meal or snack
- Grab a raisin.
- Look at the raisin and ask yourself, How did this get from the earth to my fingers? Think about it. Someone planted the vines, picked the grapes, dried them into raisins . . . imagine all the steps it took for this little raisin to travel all the way to you.
- Lift that little raisin to your ear. I know it sounds weird, but when you squeeze a raisin, it makes a snap, crackle, pop sound. Spend a few seconds listening.
- Put the raisin in front of your mouth with your lips closed. Notice you’re salivating a little in anticipation. It’s so weird how that happens, but it really does!
- Place it in your mouth and feel the texture with your tongue, then begin to chew as slowly as you possibly can. Notice as you chew how the skin separates from the sweet inside. I’m sure you never chewed anything slowly enough to notice how your tongue moves all over on its own. There’s a party going on in your mouth with every bite that you’ve been invited to all along . . . you just never bothered to RSVP!
- Swallow, smile, and go on with your day.
3 Walking Meditation
Time it takes: 3 minutes
Ideal for: Getting grounded; also great for anyone who has trouble sitting still
Try this when: Life feels chaotic, overwhelming, or out of control
- Stand up. You can do this meditation in flat shoes, socks, or, ideally, barefoot.
- Feel your feet. Wiggle your toes and connect to the sensation of the soles of your feet on the ground.
- Very slowly, lift your right foot and take a step with your right foot. Land with your heel first, then slowly roll onto the ball of your foot.
- Take your next step with your left foot the same way, in slow motion. Notice how your weight shifts forward and your body and knees work in tandem like a machine, propelling you forward.
4 A Quick Shot of Calm
Time it takes: 1 to 5 minutes
Ideal for: Relieving anxiety, cooling off anger, or releasing frustration
Try this when: Tensions are running high
- Take seven slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your nose.
- Take seven more slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Finally, take seven more slow breaths, inhaling through your mouth and exhaling through your mouth.
5 Mood Lifter Meditation
Time it takes: 1 minute
Ideal for: Shifting out of a bad mood
Try this when: You’re feeling sad, toxic, or annoyed
- Close your eyes.
- Think of three people or things you are grateful for. Don’t phone this in! You want to choose three things you genuinely feel grateful for. It might be someone special in your life, someone who gave up their seat for you on a crowded subway, your kids’ health, that it’s not raining today . . . it doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small—it all counts.
- Open your eyes.