Time. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? It often seems to control the way we live our lives. It is always moving forward—sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes warped into an elusive, unrecognizable moment, or stopped altogether. In this busy world, we seem to have constant need to check the clock. “What time is it?” “Do we have enough time?” “How long will it take?” Time controls deadlines, sets meetings, and arranges travel plans. Oh, and that horrific sound of the alarm clock on a Monday morning! Or, how often we play Tetris with our schedules to fit all of the “stuff” into the 24-hour day…
Although meditation has so many health and wellness benefits, it is often not regularly practiced. Common reasons for not meditating are: “I can’t stop my mind from thinking,” “I can’t sit still,” “I don’t have the discipline,” or, “It seems boring.” The most common excuse—yup, I’ll bet you guessed it—lack of time. Good news! Meditation doesn’t have to be a strict discipline; it doesn’t require stillness or emptiness of the mind/body, and it certainly doesn’t have to be time consuming. It is possible to find a meditation practice to work well with even the busiest of schedules. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to meditation. In fact, there are thousands of ways to meditate, none of which have to be boring. What if I told you that dancing could be a meditation? Say what!?
Meditation time is your very own personal time; a special time carved out of the day, just for you. It is the perfect time (even if it is only 5-10 minutes!) for you to cultivate connection to yourself, away from the constraints of responsibility. Perhaps think of it as a sacred space in the day—a sanctuary for yourself. Here are some techniques you might try out until you find what fits your preference, your time, and your lifestyle, best.
- Awareness of Breath
Sit comfortably—on the floor, on the couch, on a fluffy pile of pillows. Close (or soften) your eyelids. Begin to breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale completely with an open mouth. Lengthen the breath as a way to relax the nervous system, calming the mind and body. Try to recognize only the breath, as if each inhale and exhale have their very own, specific, miraculous purpose. By focusing the attention specifically toward the breath, the mind can be anchored inward, rather than tuning out, wandering toward other thoughts. Recognize when the mind does wander (because let’s be real, it will!), and without criticism or judgment, bring your mind back to the awareness of breath. Try this for 5 minutes, and notice how you feel afterwards.
- Celebrate Your Senses
Developing awareness of the sensations within the body can unravel a new and profound understanding of your “Self.” Take a few minutes to become aware of all of your senses—a mindfulness practice. For example, if you’re eating a peach, really take a moment to experience everything that your body feels with all five senses. Notice the colors of the peach, the textures, the scents, the movement of your tongue and teeth with each bite, the taste.
- Guided Meditations
The Internet is a magical tool. In the modern world, why not use technology to our advantage—even to help us meditate? There are millions of options available for free, at your fingertips. I recommend:
Turn on some tunes, and let loose. Just start moving! As your body becomes creatively free, tension leaves the physical body, and stress leaves the mind. Plus, with the energy shift, your body will release natural “feel good” chemicals (endorphins) that give you a mood boost to last throughout the day. Go ahead, ‘bust a move, just because. That’s basically all meditation is, anyway: taking time that is just for you, to connect to yourself in a deeper, or more meaningful, way. Celebrate yourself!