For any of you who listen to my podcast or read this blog, I am a huge advocate for meditation. It helps us sleep better, gain clarity and gives us much needed focus in our day-to-day activities. But the one complaint I get from many people I know, there just isn’t enough time to sit still for 30 minutes a day.
I recently saw a funny quote on twitter, something to the effect of, “Meditate everyday for 20 minutes. If you are too busy to meditate, then meditate for 60 minutes every day.” It made me chuckle because many institutions like TM meditation believe that if you don’t have at least two times a day to set aside for clarity, you are simply too busy. There is definitely some truth to that. We have become a culture bred to believe that in order to thrive and be “productive” we must appear to be busy. And isn’t that the recipe to success… just do more.
Before my divorce I had a constant ache in my lower back that would never go away. The pit in my stomach was on hyper drive, and I always felt like I was on high-alert. Like a small child I would barely hit the finish line of 11pm and I would crash, lights out….until 630am when the cycle started all over again. In my book, “No” was not a complete sentence and I just kept doing more. Then I was diagnosed with cancer, my marriage fell apart, I lost my business and was forced to auction off everything I owned in an effort to survive. Was this thriving productivity? Not in the least.
It was during those times, in my weakest moments of greatest turmoil that I needed meditation the most. In those days I didn’t get through days, or even hours, I got through moments, one little moment at a time. And it took some time, but slowly, through those hard to find silent thoughts, I found clarity, focus and a slower pace that got me out of the stupid rat race.
Meditation is not about finding 30 minutes a day to carve out of your busy day to sit and stare at a wall or the back of your eyelids. It is about carving out 5-15 minutes everyday to visualize the goals for the day, the month and possibly the year to gain clarity. Slowing those thoughts down to a manageable, more tangible pace so that you can grasp them fully and change accordingly. It is also a time to make changes and remove what no longer serves you.
- Choose a time every day that works for you. Routine is key. According to Hal Elrod, changing your morning routine can change your life. Creating a habit makes it easier to place in your schedule so you honor it and make it happen.
- It only takes 5 to 15 minutes. Just take those minutes for yourself to get clear, even if it’s only for that day’s clarity.
- Keep a journal with you to jot down notes. I find that a lot of info rushes in when I get silent. Put it down on paper and get it out of your head.
- Segment intending. From the book The Law of Attraction by Ester Hicks, she has a section that talks about intending each segment of your day. This is an important habit. Rather than focusing on the ten things you will be doing five hours from now, it teaches you to focus, fully, on what is in front of you.
- Breathing. We aren’t talking short sips of air here, I’m talking nice, slow deep breaths, that get down into your belly. It is said that 1 minute of deep, slow breathing can pull anyone out of an anxiety attack – so slow down, and bask in the relaxation.
- Set a timer. If you are constantly stopping your process by looking at the clock, set a timer for 5-15 minutes so you can focus on your focus.
- If you have a tendency to fidget, or you can’t sit still, use what is called an “anchor.” When I first learned how to meditate my instructor taught me to anchor my thoughts on two things. Doing a full body scan – my toes, my feet, my ankles….all the way up to the top of my head and he taught me to focus on the breath going in and out of my nose. Another great tip is pressing each finger pad into your thumb, over and over again.
- Give yourself at least a week to incorporate this new practice into your lifestyle. Take notes on how you feel when you start, and how you feel after seven days.
Nobody is perfect, and there will be days you just don’t have time. But if you get into a regular regimen of giving yourself 5 -15 minutes you will start to miss those sessions with yourself, and you’ll find your mind zipping around, rather than feeling calm. Keep at it, hold yourself accountable and learn to be flexible for the days that overwhelm you. You’ll find that as you become more aware of the benefits, and how good you feel, it will become mandatory and easier to find the time, especially if you create a sacred space to practice.