“New Year, New You!” Right?! New Year’s resolutions, diets, gym memberships – we start off each year so committed to the “New You” idea and so optimistic that we can make a change! Then, life happens and before you know it the stresses of daily living start slowing down that progress. We’ve all been there. Trust me, the struggle can be very real! BUT, before you lose that can-do attitude and reach for those old habits, take a minute and try this: Meditate.

Literally, for 60 seconds give yourself permission to stop focusing on whatever it is that’s throwing you off your game and use the breathing meditation technique I am going to walk you through to get yourself back on track. If you’re new to the practice of meditation this will be a great intro – don’t worry, it’s like yoga for your mind! For those of us that meditate frequently or struggle to find the time, this is a fantastic way to reap the benefits of mediation in the middle of your busy schedule.

 So, here’s how it goes:

  1. First, clear your mind and focus your attention on your breathing. When thoughts pop up, just let them pass and focus on breathing deeply. After a couple of deep breaths, you’ll be ready to begin.
  2. Inhale for 5 seconds, slowly filling up your lungs.
  3. At the top of the inhale, gently hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  4. Exhale. Slowly and steadily, releasing your breath, stretching it out over 5 seconds.
  5. At the bottom of the exhale,wait with your lungs empty for 5 seconds and then begin the process again.
  6. Inhale for 5 counts, hold for 5 counts; Exhale over 5 counts, sit for 5 counts.

In my experience, in as few as three cycles I can return my mind to the present circumstance feeling more balanced, empowered and in control of my life than I did a minute before.

If you’re having trouble quieting your thoughts a good trick is to use visualization to direct your mind towards helping the meditation unfold. I have a busy mind and an active imagination, so especially when I first began meditating visually picturing the process, while calming my body, helped seduce my mind into letting go.

 Here’s an example of visualizing the process while you’re doing it:

  1. Picture yourself breathing in the calming energy of peace and love. Many people choose to visualize this as white, glowing, warm light. Watch that light fill you up.
  2. When you “hold that light” inside of you, picture it settling into your body, soaking in and taking the place of the tension.
  3. During your exhale imagine yourself releasing all of the anxiety and stress that was burdening your experience.
  4. Then, as you sit still for that last 5 seconds, see yourself: free, calm, full of light and love. Experience the peace of just being, feel grateful for your life and this moment and slowly begin again.

 The fact is, we live in a very fast paced, demanding society that can get the best of us if we let it. That’s why it’s important that we take care of ourselves, from the inside out. Taking a minute to consciously balance your energy is small act of self love with big rewards! When you approach life with a calm mind and an open heart you not only make better choices, you have more energy and experience a deeper sense of happiness that’s bigger than any one situation or obstacle. Not to mention that mediation is a proven way to slow the aging process and maintain that youthful glow!

After all, everyone knows that when you feel good, you look good! So, the next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, remember to take a minute to reclaim your beauty and reset your energy. Do it enough and this meditation technique, among many others, can help create drastic positive change in your life!

This exercise is an adapted version of a Kundalini Yoga breathing mediation. For more information on this technique and steps to a more advanced minute meditation visit  http://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/pranayam/breath-frequency/tips-one-minute-breath

Thanks for reading and here’s to the “New You”! Shine on, my friend!

Photography by Jacob Hoffner