Have you heard that people who meditate are calmer and less likely to suffer from anxiety?
They may have lower blood pressure and healthier hearts as well.
But, we just don’t all have time to meditate, right?
Sure those calm monks and yoga teachers who have hours every day to cultivate mindfulness by sitting in meditation (because it’s part of their job) are enviable, but some of us have “real” work and a family and way too much to do.
And, even when we do have the time to meditate, we don’t because we’re just so bad at it (I can’t sit still, my mind wanders, my back hurts, etc.).
What’s a stressed-out, busy person in the real world to do?
It’s all Meditation.
Our yoga teachers often remind us that it’s “all yoga.” In other words, we need to take our practice off our mats and into our lives and use the principles we learn in yoga in our daily lives.
Well, the same can be done with meditation. We really can turn anything we do into a mindful experience. Mindfulness—being present in this moment as a detached and nonjudgmental observer—is one of the key goals of meditation.
We can, in fact, be mindful all the time. It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be so fully present in your life that you’ll wonder how you ever got so stressed out that you needed to learn to meditate in the first place.
And, you’ll probably discover that you have more time to meditate than you think.
Here are four things you can do today that count as meditation:
1. Fold, chop, scrub or brush. There are countless action-oriented chores that we need to do daily, and all of them can be done in a meditative way. Whether you’re folding laundry, chopping vegetables for a healthy soup, scrubbing your bathtub until it sparkles or brushing your furry pet so he won’t shed all over your furniture, you have an opportunity to really tune into the action in a meditative way.
2. Get stuck in traffic. It’s aggravating, yes—especially if you are expected to be somewhere at certain time—but there’s often very little we can do about traffic. If you can’t find a quicker route to your destination, try this: sit up straight and take a deep breath. Then take another. Do it a bit more slowly, and focus on the air going in and out of your lungs. (Just be sure to stay alert and keep your eyes on the road while you do this!) Before you know it, you’ll be where you need to be.
3. Type with awareness. Many of us work at computers at least part of the time. If we don’t, we type emails to friends or do something that involves the action of using a keyboard to create words. Next time you’re using your keyboard, focus on the sensation of each finger making contact with the keys. Pay attention to the particular, unique sound that your keyboard makes as you work. Notice how fast or slowly your fingers are moving. Try to slow them down on purpose and see if your mind slows down as well.
4. Listen to a boring story. When you’re in a boring meeting or listening to your chatty cousin tell you in detail about her last trip to the zoo with the kids, is your mind thinking, “When will this end?” If so, calm your mind and ease your pain by focusing on your breath as the story unfolds. Don’t think about what you are going to say or plan a strategy for ending the conversation. Just be there for a few more moments. Eventually, you may be able to be present for longer and longer periods of time without suffering and wishing you were anywhere else.
You probably have some ideas of your own to add to this list. If you don’t, I promise you that if you try these for a few minutes next time you have the opportunity—and then for a few minutes longer the time after that—you will soon discover that life really can be a meditation and there are many ways to meditate every day.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to make time for more traditional meditation techniques whenever you can as well. Even 10 or 15 minutes of stillness will do wonders for your chattering mind and your restless body.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Maria Kuzmiak
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Sebastien Wiertz/Flickr