Many of us wish for more time, often 24 hours in a day is just not enough! Post COVID-19 has intensified this for many who now have to somehow fit home schooling into an already gruelling schedule. With everything going on, who has the time to meditate right? But what if a daily meditation practice can actually create the illusion of more time. Meditation helps to calm the racing thoughts of the never ending to do list and normal complexities of life. After meditation we tend to automatically be much more efficient for the rest of the day. When we are busy on the inside, we tend to be busy on the outside, but when we are clearer on the inside, we are more effective on the outside.
Perspective is everything
It’s where our power lies and if we are able to change our perspective, we are able to intentionally create more calm in our lives. You can’t run on empty, just as much as a car can’t run on an empty tank. Find time to swap being productive with sitting down, finding the stillness and refilling the tank.
The main thing to bear in mind is that it’s not hard and you are not looking to achieve anything or to reach a goal. The moment meditation starts to feel like a chore, you are not doing it right, so drop the judgement and keep going. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions to get you going.
Make the commitment
You need to make the commitment to yourself in the first instance, otherwise it will just become another thing that you started but gave up before giving it a chance and reaping the benefits. So, commit to a daily practice, start off with 10 minutes a day, you can gradually increase this to 20 minutes over the course of the first month.
Find a time that works for you. Whether it’s in the morning, on your lunch break or at the end of the day. If you can meditate at the same time each day, it will help you to develop a routine. Turn off all distractions and set a timer if you need to get back to work afterwards!
Feel your body
When was the last time you checked in with your body and how it was feeling? Now’s the time. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down and close your eyes. Start scanning your body from the crown of your head through to the tips of your toes. Take your time and notice any physical sensations throughout your body. Is there tension or pain in certain places? How is your breath, is it deep or shallow?
Once you’ve completed one scan of your body, repeat the process in reverse, start at the tips of your toes and finish at the crown of your head. Continue until your timer goes off. We live inside our minds, so this practice shifts our focus to our body and allows us to deepen our mind-body connection.
Use your breath
Observing your breath is another way to focus the mind on something. You could just observe the breath as is, without trying to change it in anyway. Or you could change the rate at which you breathe and try and maintain that throughout the meditation. You could focus your breath on longer, deeper breaths and observe what effects this has on your body. Do you notice any changes? Are there any new sensations? Has any tension changed in any way?
Deep belly breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which stops the fight or flight response which is the cause of stress and anxiety. It produces a calm and relaxed feeling in the mind and body and helps increase our mindfulness of the present moment.
Observe your thoughts
You don’t have to focus the mind on anything at all, you could simply watch your thoughts. If there’s one thing we are all experts in, it’s thinking! We constantly think about what we need to do, what we should have said or done in the past or what worries await us in our future. Whatever you are thinking about in the moment, don’t judge the thought, just be aware of it. Watch the thought move through your mind like watching clouds move through the sky.
Your thoughts will constantly change, and you will continue to observe them as the unprejudiced observer. Eventually, you will find the mind will get a bit quieter and you will start noticing moments of no thought. When this happens, all you need to do is be aware that there is no thought, until the next thought comes in, and then observe that like before.
There is no right way
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, if you are resting your mind and body for a period of time, then you are meditating. This is your time to reset and refill your tank, without guilt or judgement. When we give ourselves the time to meditate, we can better show up for ourselves, for others and the world. When will you start?