7 Easy Ways to Meditate with a Busy Schedule
This article originally appeared on BrainUpFL.org, a former program of the Winter Park Health Foundation. Please continue to visit WellbeingNetwork.org for new content to fuel your intellectual pursuits and resources that support a healthy brain.
When you lead a busy life, the idea of squeezing in one more thing such as meditation may seem unrealistic—especially if the image of meditation is that of sitting for long periods of time, cross-legged with eyes closed and looking completely serene. While this is to be admired, it’s hard to imagine adopting this practice when there are a thousand other things calling for your attention. This is perfectly understandable.
However, the fact is, everyone has time to meditate. If you can find time to brush your teeth, you can meditate. If you can find time to watch television, you can meditate. If you can find time to scroll through your social media feeds, you definitely have time to meditate.
Why You are not too Busy to Meditate
Like many, you are probably at the point where you would like to meditate more or even just start, but don’t know how to work it in to your schedule. The general “rule” is the busier you are, the more you need meditation. This seems counterintuitive; however, one of the benefits of meditation is that it creates space for more creativity, and increases focus and energy. We are all capable of this; the ability to meditate is a natural part of who we are.
It’s interesting to note that more and more successful people, including athletes, have realized the importance of meditation and how it has helped improve their leadership and athletic ability. Each of them has been introduced to meditation in different ways and thus have their own practice. There are many styles, and each have their own benefits. If these busy people can make time to meditate, so can you!
Start by letting go of ideas of what meditation “must” or “should” be like and learn ways to make it work for you. Yes, meditation can be sitting in powerful stillness for an hour or two if you have the time, but it can also be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or a few quick inhales and exhales. The idea is that you are taking time to connect with yourself and that inner wisdom lying in wait. The only prerequisite is having the desire and openness to making the adjustment to allow the possibility for positive changes in your life.
Here are seven easy meditations for on the go.
Be In the Moment
This is a good way to begin practicing awareness of yourself and your surroundings. You may be spending so much time quickly moving from one task to another that you disconnect from how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Plan ahead and set reminders for yourself throughout the day to stop and be in the moment, fully. You can do this anywhere and anytime.
Notice your thoughts and feel into your body. Notice your surrounding and perhaps your response to those surroundings. During this time, you are not distracted by the future or the past (even if it’s brief). It is from this place, the present moment, that life becomes so much richer. Taking only a few seconds or minutes, it’s a simple practice that can launch you in a direction of more fulfillment.
Make It a Work Thing
Think about bringing meditation into the workplace and inviting others to join you. Meditating with a group has its own unique benefits. Sharing in the collective energy of one another’s intentions and desires helps deepen your connection with your own. Put together a little group of people who might be interested in taking a short break. Meditation creates a state of “restful awareness,” perfect for those days when you feel tired or ineffective. After a few days, people will be looking forward to it, including yourself.
Enjoy the Breath of Life
To help yourself get into the habit of taking more life-giving breaths, set a time in the morning, noon, and evening where you can pause and take a few deep breaths. It can be one, two, or 10 breaths, whatever you have time for. This can be done while walking, on the train, on a plane, right before a meeting, etc. Or, right now:
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- Breathe in deeply, allowing your belly to expand with air.
- Pause. Then exhale through the mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Open your eyes and notice any differences, they might be subtle.
Just like that, you are one step closer to inner peace. It’s hard to remember to breathe during stressful times, even though this is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to help cope.
Meditate While You Wait
Waiting is inevitable no matter where you go—whether you’re waiting at a doctor’s office, for a friend who’s running late, at the deli, in line at the grocery store, and the list goes on. Rather than grabbing your phone to distract yourself, this is the perfect time to get into the meditation zone.
Start by taking a couple deep breaths and then notice what’s happening around you. Listening to the voices and watching the activity. Observe without attaching any judgements. Notice where your thoughts go, bringing them back to the present if needed. As an added bonus, extend compassion out to people by gazing upon them and sending a thought such as “May you have a great day” or “Many blessings upon you.” By the time you finish, it will be your turn in line and you will be left feeling wholesome inside, and the people around you benefit too!
Take Advantage of Technology
Needless to say, we live in a technologically-driven world. The benefit of this is that you have access to so much and that includes phone applications dedicated to the practice of meditation or habits that cultivate mindfulness, which is also a type of meditation. All you need are some headphones, and you will be set for any time when you can pause for a few minutes.
Try different applications and get a feel for them. Some are pretty straightforward and others require a bit more navigating. We recommend our very own Ananda app, which allows you to mix and match combinations of meditations and music tracks. [NOTE: BrainUpFl.org does not endorse any products.]
While these applications are convenient, remember the number one tool you will always have is yourself and your ability to access the stillness within. It’s ok to need a little help though.
Take Time Right Before You Get Home
Before walking in your home after a busy day at work, take a moment to pause and relax. What awaits as soon as you walk through the door (kids, dinner, homework, cleaning, more work) can wait just a few minutes or seconds. Try sitting in your car in the driveway and meditating for a few moments or do some breathing exercises. Is there a place between work and home where you can pull off and sit or walk for a bit? Gazing at the ocean, the forest, a lake, or a pond can be rejuvenating and nurturing. Wherever you are you can always find a bit of nature to uplift. Be creative.
Start As Soon As You Wake Up
Before hitting the ground running, start the day with meditation. This is one of the easiest meditations you can do and it helps set the tone for day. As soon as you’re awake and starting to think about your day, hit pause, use the restroom, and sit somewhere to reflect. You can do this sitting on the side of your bed even before you use the restroom. Make it work. Over time you will fine tune this routine.
You can take a few deep breaths and visualize the day ahead, setting good intentions for ease and ability to overcome challenges with clarity and strength. Ask for help if it calls to you. This can be five minutes or less, everyone has this time squirreled away somewhere. Maybe you need to set the alarm a little earlier to be able to work this in.
These are just a few ways to begin practicing meditation on the go. The great thing about this type of work is that there is no right or wrong way. If you haven’t already, it’s helpful to learn the basics of meditation in order to learn the theory and philosophy, allowing you to take your practice to another level.
At this point, hopefully you feel more inspired and optimistic about being able to meditate. Once you begin to place attention on this area in your life, you will find you have more time than you think.