Like most people, I often calculate my day once my head has cleared out the grogginess of the previous night’s sleep.
I need to get up, eat, shower, take entirely too many supplements, make sure I don’t forget any of the 20 things I need for the day such as my cell phone, keys, food, sunglasses, etc, squeeze in a yoga or dance class, push through any writing blocks while staring at my computer for hours on end.
Then I go grocery shopping, come home, cook dinner, clean a bit, talk to a couple of friends, try and sort through piles of mail or stare dismally at my Microsoft Money file, maybe do some laundry, watch a Sex and the City rerun and then suddenly it is 12am.
Time for bed. Oops, forgot/didn’t have time/am now too tired to meditate.
Why is it so hard for many of us to set aside time every day in which to meditate?
We are all busy people, yet we seem to find time for extended coffee breaks, often gossip for a bit longer than our work lunches are supposed last, and depending on the time of the year (and how soon we will find ourselves in a bathing suit), we definitely make it to the gym.
The Benefits Of Meditation
When we are traveling, our jam-packed schedules-o’-fun make it even harder to find at least five minutes for quite time.
Whether we have taken sanctuary for three days of intense meditation in the hills of Vermont, or were dragged kicking and screaming by a fanatical friend to get a hug from Amma, the hugging guru, or, lets face it, never seriously contemplated taking time to meditate, the rest of life just seems too busy to make room.
Note the “seems” part. Because if you don’t make mediation a priority, you’ll never find the perfect time.
And the interesting thing is that taking time to meditate may conversely give you more time, and space, in your busy life.
Meditating actually gives us many of the same benefits as sleep.
To a certain extent, it may give us even more payback since our minds are actually at work while we are sleeping. Many monks easily live off of two to four hours of sleep because of their practice.
During meditation, the most important component of stress–our thoughts–slow down from a lion’s roar to a dull, lifeless whimper.
Much like taking a physical vacation, where we are able to relax and reboot our systems, this mental vacation better prepares us for what lies ahead, whether that is yet another four-hour work meeting, or a traffic jam that keeps you on the road until the crickets have stopped chirping, as they have turned in for the night.
Making It Habit
While it may seem impossible to quiet your thoughts at first, just as many of us can’t touch our toes if we haven’t stretched for 10 years, it becomes easier, and more satisfying, with time and practice.
What most “experts” recommend is to set aside the same time each day for meditating, whether it be five minutes or forty.
Most often, this is first thing in the morning (post-grogginess) or last thing before going to bed.
As with instilling any habit, this can be a good approach for some people. For others, like myself, this feels too structured for something that is both meant to be fulfilling and enjoyable.
So my secret is to wait until I’m either really stressed, or I’m working on something that I can’t figure out (and this, of course, is bound to happen daily).
These are times that our brains are desperately signaling us to take a break anyway, and often we do not listen and instead “push through it.” This impacts our short-term (sweating profusely, racing heart, delayed brain function) and long-term (anxiety attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease) health in a tremendous way.
Quieting the constantly running dialogue upstairs helps to balance both the body and the mind.
Start With The Breath
When we are traveling, while we may feel more relaxed than in our daily work lives, our bodies are still strained with all the planning, itineraries, deciphering directions, and yes, even extreme sports and 5pm cocktails.
Taking 10 minutes before happy hour to sit quietly and breathe will make the evening even more enjoyable, and who knows, may even help to subdue the next morning’s hangover.
We live in a time where we are all over-burdened with too many things to do.
It may seem to take on something new that may or may not jive with your personal religious/spiritual beliefs or agnosticism/atheism just seems too much to ask.
But there doesn’t have to be any dogma involved.
In fact, it starts with something that we all live by, whether we like it or not-the breath. And wouldn’t it be great to face your never-ending schedule with a calm, knowing smile on your lips?
That’ll be sure to rattle your coworkers.
How do you find time to meditate? Share your thoughts in the comments!