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How Can I Meditate When I’m Busy?

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

Meditation is one of the most popular methods to improve emotional health. Yet, what if you don’t you have the time to meditate? In that case, you need meditations that are fast and simple: meditations that can be done anywhere – not just at home or in a quiet place – but on the train, at work, or waiting in a line at a store. 

Here are a few fast and simple meditations: 

Body Scan

The more aware you are of your bodily sensations, the better you may be able to manage your emotions. All emotions are expressed in the body, so connecting to your body is a good way to connect with your emotions. For example, you might notice a tightness in your chest when you’re feeling anxious or a heaviness in your stomach when you’re feeling sad. These sensations in your body are an opportunity for you to process your emotions. A body scan can help you quickly connect with your body. 

Try this: 

1)    Start at the top of your head and slowly scan your body down to your toes. Scanning is to simply notice whatever is occurring in your body

2)    Don’t judge the sensations. Simply be aware of any body sensations that you have in this moment.

3)    Remember, the sensations that you notice were already there. You did not create them as you are simply more aware of them.

4)    You can do one quick body scan or several. 


  •       To increase your bodily awareness, try assigning each sensation a color, shape, sound, or feeling. For example, you can imagine that muscle tension in your shoulders is gray, round, sounds like a pulse, and feels like concrete.
  •       If you notice an unpleasant sensation and have the urge to move your body, then move. You can stretch, change your standing or sitting position, or engage in any other type of movement. 


Meditations in which you focus on a mantra can help you accomplish a goal, increase your focus, manage an emotion, or improve self-worth, to name a few. Think of it this way:  by focusing on one mantra, you are introducing your brain and body to a new concept, and the more that you get used to this concept, the more likely you are to accept the mantra and the more likely, therefore, you are to incorporate the mantra into your actions.  

Try this: 

  1. Decide on a one-sentence mantra. Keep it simple and use positive language. Here are some examples:
  • “I deserve a promotion.”
  • “I’m loveable.”
  • “I can manage this anxiety.”
  • “I am capable of completing this project.”

Avoid negative language such as:

  • “I am not unlovable.”
  • “I’m not a bad person.”
  • “I am not incapable”

Also, avoid mantras with “but” and “if”, such as:

  • “I deserve a promotion if I work harder.”
  • “I deserve a promotion but I may not get it.”
  • Repeat this mantra to yourself. Try to keep your focus on the mantra. This may feel uncomfortable at first because the mantra is new and/or you don’t believe it yet.
  • Try to keep your focus on the mantra. If you get distracted at any time, that’s ok. Don’t judge yourself – just refocus your attention back to the mantra. 


  •     Imagine what it would look and/or feel like if you believed your mantra to be 100% true. Perhaps imagine yourself in situations in which you believe it’s true.
  •     Combine this meditation with the body scan and notice where that mantra lives in your body. For example, some people feel a warmth in their chest when they recite a mantra. If you can feel it in your body, just notice it. 


Perhaps one of the most popular forms of meditation is to simply focus on one’s breathing. This can change your body chemistry in a way that promotes calmness, focus, health, and productivity. The key is to find a breathing meditation that works for you. 

Try these variations: 


1)    Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.

2)    Hold your breath for a count of 7.

3)    Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8; make sure to exhale completely.

4)    Try this for at least 6 rounds. The key is to focus only on your breathing. If you get distracted – which you will – just bring your focus back to your breathing. 

Diaphragmic Breathing

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.
  2. Inhale through your nose so that your stomach expands and the hand on your stomach moves upwards.
  3. Exhale completely out through your mouth and contract your abdominal muscles so that your stomach flattens.
  4. Throughout your breathing your chest should not move and the hand that’s on your chest should remain still.
  5. As you practice this you can eventually remove your hands on your chest and stomach. 

If you need help meditating or learning additional new ways to manage your emotions, you could benefit from participating in counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule an appointment with one of our Chicago therapists today.

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