You can meditate in public by using one of 5 easy techniques: focus on your breathing, bring awareness to your surroundings, picture your happy place, use muscle relaxation, or imagine funny animal people.
Which of the methods you use is going to depend on what is happening and where you are at the time.
Below, I’ve explained each method in greater detail and provided examples of where they may work best.
Let’s begin with focusing on your breathing.
1. Focus on Breathing to Reduce Stress
Focusing on your breathing is one of the easiest ways to meditate when you aren’t alone. And, you can do it without bringing attention to yourself.
All that’s requires is for you to notice each breath as it goes in or out. Placing your attention on your breathing will shift your focus away from racing thoughts or overwhelming emotions, allowing you to remain calm.
This is the type of activity you can do on a crowded bus, in a waiting room, or at the food court of a busy mall. You don’t even need to close your eyes for it to work.
The people around you will have no idea you are using a gentle meditation to center yourself and create room for peace in the middle of a busy place.
2. Bring Awareness to Your Surroundings
If you find yourself in a place where it isn’t possible to tune out what’s going on around you and focus on your breathing, try focusing more on your surroundings.
For example, if you’re in a presentation and you need to listen to what is being said, it will be difficult to focus on your breathing instead.
In this type of situation, it’s better to increase your focus on what’s happening around you.
Give all of your attention to the presenter, the material, and what is being said. When you do this, it becomes a form of meditation that will stop your mind from wandering and chasing stray thoughts.
Notice each thing that the presenter offers with total concentration. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with all of it, it just means to give it your undivided attention.
You may find this difficult to accomplish at first, but with practice, it will become easier and help you to stop worrying about the future.
3. Go to Your Happy Place
Another way to de-stress in public is to tune out for a few moments and let your mind go to your mental happy place.
That place could be a recent vacation, a favorite place to spend time in nature, a past fun time with your family, or a loving moment with your partner.
Try to invoke all of the feelings and sensations from that place, including touch, taste, and smell. The tricky part here will be keeping a neutral expression on your face.
Hint: actually go to beautiful places that make you happy, and when you do, imprint the memory.
You can do the same when you enjoy moments with other people. Make a conscious effort to take a mental picture and file it away to pull out later.
4. Use Muscle Relaxation to Stay Calm
Chances are, if you’re feeling stress, you’re tensing up your body. Do what’s sometimes called progressive muscle relaxation.
Inhale and tighten a muscle group like your foot or leg for five to ten seconds, then exhale and relax it. Pause for ten to twenty seconds, then move on to the next area of your body.
This is typically started with the lower limbs and continued upward. Don’t forget your abdomen, and for the facial muscles, you might want to make sure no one is looking directly at you.
Or you can turn away from the screen for a moment if you’re doing a video call. It’s a great technique to use while you’re at your desk.
Many people use this method to fall asleep, so if you’re one of those folks, save it for when you’re at home.
5. Picture Animal People and Lighten Up
One take on an old trick is to use humorous animal meditation. Picture the overly loud coworkers in your meeting room as a group of chickens pecking at their food.
They’re entertaining and not so annoying anymore. Give the person yelling on the video call a short, squashed nose, and now you have a cute bulldog barking at you.
The relative who’s on your last nerve turns into a hooting monkey that you should walk away from and let join his own tribe.
If this works well for you, just remember not to burst out laughing in their face. That might backfire on your intentions to stay calm.
Finding a harmless way to bring humor to your surroundings is a very relaxing way to lighten up a stressful situation.
Keeping calm when stressed in public isn’t always easy, but with a little effort, it can be done. Utilizing a fun, discreet form of meditation that works for you will help.
Just remember to expect disruptions and try to respond to them without anger. Notice the interruption, acknowledge your reaction, and release it while returning to your form of meditation.
It all becomes easier with practice and the benefits more noticeable over time.