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How to Meditate at Your Desk

Major CEOs and business moguls from all over the world use daily meditation to make them more effective leaders and decision makers. Def Jam’s Russell Simmons, media maven Oprah Winfrey and Panda Express founder Andrew Cherng all espouse the benefits of meditation when it comes to clarity, energy, and focus in their business lives.

Meditation helps you calm yourself, clear your head and become centered, which makes you more productive and effective at work. It can help before big presentations, when making important business decisions, accessing inspiration on tough topics, or when negotiating with clients or associates.

You don’t need to be a CEO to meditate, nor do you need a special meditation room at home or in your office to gain the benefits of daily meditation.

Here’s how to do it at your very own desk, with little or no disruption to your daily workflow.

Set Realistic Expectations
The goal is for you to get comfortable meditating and want to do it regularly. If you condition yourself to have bad experiences with meditation, you’ll avoid returning to this valuable centering practice. If you’re new to meditation, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Set a timer for five minutes (use a pleasant sound to rouse you from your reverie, something like a harp or bells—nothing jarring) then work yourself up to twenty minutes over the course of the next few weeks or months.

Use Guidance if Needed
Start with a guided meditation if you’re unfamiliar with meditation or find it too challenging to go it alone. There are many free or paid meditation options available though iTunes or elsewhere on the web. Over time, you might consider meditating on your own, or you can continue with the guided meditations. Set the course that works best for you. (Hint: Popping on a pair of headphones also prevents outside distractions!)

Pick the Right Time
Workdays can get hectic, so set a time for your meditation when you know you’re least likely to be distracted. Try times when the office isn’t full, such as first thing in the morning, during lunch, or right before the end of the day.

Eliminate Distractions
It’s important to reduce external distractions when meditating. Close your office door, or place a friendly “do not disturb” sign on your desk so passing coworkers will know not to disturb you until you’re finished. Put your computer to sleep and put your phone on silent.

Prepare Yourself
Close your eyes and set an intention for your meditation. You might ask for an answer to a difficult question or simply want to calm down after a stressful day. But when you set a deliberate intention at the beginning of your meditation, you’re more likely to stick with the meditation and you can also track the results over time, to show the true benefits of your regular meditation.

Begin Your Meditation
There are many ways to meditate, but the thing they all have in common is maintaining an internal focus and keeping your thoughts centered on your breathing.

Mentally count backwards from 10 to one. As you do, pretend to descend a staircase, each step bringing you further down, deeper and deeper into your own consciousness. Resist the urge to hurry through these steps; these are the steps that connect you with your deeper unconscious mind, your source of inspiration.

Pay attention to your feelings. If you’re feeling upset, annoyed, distracted–it’s all okay. Just let these feelings surface and release them as you sense them. There is no need to wallow in any unwanted emotions.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Your conscious mind is going to want to participate and it’s important to allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go and not focus too deeply on them. Definitely do not castigate yourself for “thinking when you’re trying to clear your mind.” Instead, work with your fleeting thoughts by mentally thanking them for popping up, but don’t linger on them. Simply let each thought pass, knowing that when you’re back to full consciousness, your to-do list will still be dutifully waiting for you. Remember that this is your moment to put all your worries away and give yourself a few short minutes to simply be with your own thoughts.

Like all good habits, meditation takes continued practice. However, now that you realize that you can easily meditate at your desk during the workday, you can begin to incorporate meditation into your daily activities list and immediately start reaping the personal and professional benefits of personal centeredness.

Finally, if meditating at your desk just seems like an impossibility, try incorporating it right before you go to sleep at night or when you first wake up. The most important step is just to try.

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