If you are reading this then you probably recognize some value in meditation, in slowing down, and reducing stress. At the same time you probably struggle with fitting meditation into your daily routine. The good news is that establishing a daily meditation practice is easier than you may have thought.
In order to make this work, it will be helpful to:
- Lower your expectations of meditation.
Often the reason we are impatient about meditation is we want instant gratification. Replace that expectation with a desire to experience a "slow melt" of your stress.
- Be open to non-traditional meditation.
Meditation doesn't have to be done in a seated position. Any activity in which you can slow down your mind, become more inwardly focused and more rooted in the present moment will pass the test for meditation.
- Be kind to yourself.
At all levels, give yourself credit and praise for all your goodness. Don't berate yourself for not being "good" at meditating. That defeats the purpose. If you make the effort to meditate, then by default, you are good at it. It's more a "do or not do" thing versus a "good or bad."
- Commit to slow down your mind for 10 minutes each day.
You can obviously do this for longer if you want, but just take your time in building this habit by starting with 10 minutes per day.
The way to do this is to transform some of the things you are already doing each day into mindful meditation. Here are some major areas where you could make this transformation.
- Exercise Meditation
Any continuous physical activity over a period of time can work. Some great choices are walking, jogging, or yoga. Chores can work too such as sweeping, folding laundry, stacking wood, and washing windows.
The way to transform any of these activities into meditation is to first focus on your breath. Observe it. Modify it. Try long inhalations, holding periods, and slow exhalations if you can. Observe how each part of your body feels. When you start to feel the exercise endorphins kick in, you might also want to express those good feelings with a big smile, a raising of the arms and/or a deep "Ahhhh" sound. Silly? Maybe. Feels good? Definitely.
- Bathing Meditation
The next time you shower or take a bath, create your own spa experience simply by flipping the switch in your mind. Let go of any limits. No time limits, no temperature limits. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Feel the water. Feel the sensations it gives your body. Allow the water to heal you by transforming your bathing time into a meditation. Focus on your breath and how your body feels. If thoughts involving the past or future come into your mind, observe them and send them packing by returning to your observations of your breath and body. What do you see, feel, smell, and hear?
Let go of words and labels by expressing your good feelings through meaningless sounds such as "aum," "mmmm," or "ahhhhh." Might your roommates wonder what you are doing? Perhaps. Just let that thought bring you even more joy and laugh.
- Music Meditation
This is another activity that most of us do daily. Listening to music naturally brings us into the present moment. It can also bring us to good memories or daydreams of the future. That's all good. You can bring more meditative elements to your music experience by noticing how you feel while you listen, play or sing. Add full diaphragmatic breathing too.
Some other music ideas are to pick up that instrument you haven't played in a while. Don't worry if you play well or not. The point is simply to become immersed in it and to enjoy it. You also may want to try singing or playing percussion along with your favorite music. Don't have a drum? Make one. Any object can be a percussion instrument. Just start tapping! Lastly, consider going to a music based event and enjoy. You will be engaged in meditation without any effort at all. No wonder we like music so much!
- Hobby Meditation
Similar to the exercise, bathing, and music, immerse yourself in any project that you enjoy such as model building, knitting, car restoration, drawing, painting, crafts, etc. As you enjoy your hobby, add the elements of deep breathing, awareness of sensation, and focus on the current moment and you'll be meditating. And in the end you'll have a physical manifestation of that mediation. Cool.
- Massage Meditation
Schedule a massage for yourself. As you enjoy the physical sensation, be aware of your breath. You may want to focus on one word such as Peace, Calm, Love, Ease, or perhaps a sound with no meaning such as Aum. As everyday thoughts enter your mind, pour them out with the simple mantra "empty the mind."
- If All Else Fails - The 10 Minute Dark Room Meditation
If you didn't have time for any of the above activities in a given day, here is a simple and enjoyable 10 minute meditation routine that even the most impatient can squeeze into their day.
- Go into a darkened room and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
- If it feels good, gently cover your eyes with your hands for a few moments and/or rub your temples.
- Start by taking 10 deep breaths. Hold each for a period of time that is comfortable for you and then release very slowly.
- After this simply breath normally. Be aware of your breath. Be aware of each part of your body from your feet all the way up to the crown of your body.
- Notice each part in turn. Send an intention of healing to any part that is in need of care.
- Then focus on a simple mantra, any word you choose. As unwanted thoughts enter your mind use the phrase "empty the mind" to gently usher them out. 10 minutes will go by pretty quickly.
- At the end open your eyes, do any stretches that feel good, and take a few breaths.
- Feel the magical rejuvenation!
|Written on 12/06/2007 by K. Stone, the author of of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. Republished on 8/7/09.|