The most effective way to meet any goal, experts say, is through a series of tiny changes.
Meditate in the morning.
"I start my day with a simple meditation practice; it sets the tone for my day and clears my head to prepare for what's ahead," says Tiffany Cruikshank, an internationally renowned yoga instructor and the founder of Yoga Medicine.
Play that calming music.
The body's internal rhythms entrain to the external rhythms of music, like when you go to the sea and you start breathing slower and your heart rate slows down and starts moving closer to the rhythm and pace of the ocean. It's the same with music, especially reggae, says Frank Lipman, MD.
Put down your smartphone.
When that impulse to whip out the phone strikes, resist. You're going to feel a wave of anxiety, says Sluyter, but don't panic—that wave is supposed to happen. Once it rolls through, you'll see that there's something good in its wake: silence. Freedom.
For fast focus, sit in a comfortable place, breathe naturally, and settle your attention on your breath, says Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation. With each inhale and exhale, mentally repeat the words "in" and "out." If your mind wanders, just let go without judgment, and bring your attention back to it.
Don't check your email when you wake up.
And don't turn on the news or the radio—just sit silently and have a cup of coffee or tea and allow your mind to wander. This 10-minute cocoon of time is a calming, centering way to start the day.
Focus on your mentors.
To feel a deeper connection to those around you, Sluyter suggests this ancient Tibetan technique: Sit quietly and think of someone who has unconditionally supported you. Close your eyes and visualize that person behind and slightly above you. Imagine her radiating love in the form of beautiful, golden light. Then visualize someone in front of you who you want to share the light with. Let it pour down through you and bathe the person in front of you.
Try a loving-kindness meditation.
Sit quietly, breathe normally, and repeat the phrase "May I be happy, may I be peaceful," says Salzberg. Whenever your attention wanders, gently let those thoughts go and come back to the phrase. After repeating that phrase for yourself, offer it up to include all beings everywhere, saying "May all things be happy, may all things be peaceful."