Think You Don’t Have Time to Meditate? Pause and Get Present With This 60-Second Practice

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

You wake up and jump into your daily routine. You grab some breakfast, get the kids ready for school, and get to work. You buzz through meetings and projects. Then it’s time to make and serve dinner, tidy up, and maybe binge-watch something before you go to sleep — then start the cycle over again.

It’s easy to get stuck in a mindless loop of daily grinds. We may even cling to these routines when life gets chaotic, such as when we’re navigating the unknowns of a global pandemic. However, they can start to feel like a treadmill that leaves us feeling depleted and exhausted.

When that happens, it’s time to stop and check in with ourselves and what’s going on around us. There’s no better way to relax and replenish than taking a moment for mindfulness.

Some people want to try meditation, but don’t start because they think they don’t have enough time. If you are one of those people, I have good news: If you have 60 seconds, you have time to squeeze a mindfulness meditation into your day.

This exercise allows you to step off the hamster wheel of your daily task list and notice what is happening around and inside you.

Being out in nature might be the most relaxing place to practice this, and I highly recommend you make time in your life to be outdoors on a regular basis. However, you can also do this quick mindfulness meditation at your desk in the middle of your workday, in traffic on the highway, or while making yourself dinner, just for example.

Unlike meditation practices that require you to close your eyes, this one can be done with eyes open, anywhere and anytime. So set the timer on your phone or glance at your clock, and give yourself a minute of calm by engaging your first five senses:

  1. Look. Explore your surroundings with your eyes — even familiar surroundings. Notice all the different colors, shapes, and sizes. See the movement and the stillness, the light and the shadow.
  2. Listen. What can you hear? Outside, you might hear wind rustling in the trees, the sounds of birds or other animals, water running through a nearby creek, cars passing on the roadway. Inside, you might hear the voices of those with whom you live or work, people moving around the space, the hum of electronics, the light snoring of your dog.
  3. Smell. Do you notice any smells? If you’re cooking, you might smell the vegetables you’re chopping, or the noodles cooking on the stovetop. Give yourself time to let this sense explore, even if there aren’t obvious smells from something like cooking. Does the room have a smell? Are there any smells on the breeze? Indoor and outdoor spaces often have subtle smells that we may not normally notice.
  4. Touch. Feel the smooth surface of your desk, the spongy texture of your mouse pad. If you’re outside, feel the sensation of the air on your skin and the sun on your face. Feel your breath coming in and out of your nostrils. Feel your feet on the ground.
  5. Taste. This one is great for mindful cooking moments, or tasting the bright, minty taste of your toothpaste when brushing your teeth. You might also notice that you are tasting while you are smelling, as the two sensations are integrally related. Try this mindfulness practice next time you’re out in nature and see if you can “taste” the breeze by the water’s edge, in the forest, or even in the city.

You might try picking one of these senses to focus on each day for five days, or explore them all in a single sitting. Try it and see if you begin to take that feeling of calm and focus with you throughout your busy day. If so, you may find that you want to take more time, say 15 or 20 minutes, to expand your moments of mindfulness. It’s a fun and simple way to build more tranquility into your day, every day.

Here’s a meditation on Julie’s free podcast that guides you through your senses: may also check out Julie’s one-minute nature meditation videos on Facebook, or explore her collection of guided meditations on the free Insight Timer App


  • Julie Potiker

    Author + Mindfulness Expert

    Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit