There’s no doubt about it, meditation is really, really good for us. In fact, meditation has been proven to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, while keeping our brains sharp. Meditation is part of the mainstream vocabulary now, free downloads are at your fingertips and has found its way into the corporate workplace, which is pretty cool, considering that just a few years ago, this was not the case.
And while it’s really cool that meditation is being embraced by so many, it’s not always easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle. When I was still working a 9-5 and facilitating corporate meditation sessions, I wasn’t consistent about my own practice because, well, life happens. And just like following any healthy self-care program, when we fall off the wagon, we tend to beat ourselves up and, of course, it feels even harder when we try to get back on. What to do?
Start With Self-Compassion
Recognize what emotions you’re feeling and the words you’re saying to yourself and acknowledge that’s what’s up. There’s no need in that moment to change what’s coming up; beating yourself up for having the feelings just adds to the cycle. So, just as you might hug an upset child and gently reassure her that things will be OK, hug yourself (literally!) and reassure yourself that things will be OK and you will get back into your meditation practice (or your self-care plan). Let the urge to judge and berate pass.
Meditation is Everywhere You Are
During my meditation trainings, one of the most interesting ways I’ve learned to meditate was a “walking meditation”. A walking meditation is a super slow motion walk with no devices, no talking, no distractions. The slow pace of the walk, and the lack of distractions, allows you to really slow down and notice, to be present in the moment. When we walk at a brisk pace, have our earbuds in, or engage in conversation, our minds often wander and race, plan and analyze, and we fail to notice the sensation of our heels and toes pressing into and pushing away from the earth. We are oblivious to the tiny details, textures, colors and forms of life surrounding us. So next time you’re out and about—whether in the grocery store, at work or in your neighborhood, slow your pace to a crawl and notice what you feel with all of your senses. Practice walking meditation for as long as you can; when your mind starts to chatter away, anchor your awareness in the sensation of your feet on the ground, the smell in the air or the pattern of your breath. Yep, people might look at you, but so what? You’re increasing your resilience and lowering your stress levels; they’re not!
Still Not Enough Time in a Day?
These days, everything is changing so fast and schedules are so full, it’s hard to keep up. Especially if you’re caring for family! I’ve heard from countless parents who’ve described the frustrations and challenges of trying to find a few minutes to just catch their breath. I even know some moms who say their bathtubs are sacred spaces, because it’s the only place they can have a few minutes all to themselves. Next time you take a shower, stand under the water and connect with the present moment by observing the sensation of the water as it runs over your skin; notice the temperature of the water and the sounds it makes as it splashes on the shower floor. Our minds are wired to wander and that’s OK. If you get lost in thought, call your awareness back to the present by noticing the scent of your soap or the sensation of your shampoo as you lather your hair. Meditation isn’t easy, so start with a few second here, a few minutes there. In time, it’s possible that your entire shower session becomes a peaceful meditation session.
Keep. Showing. Up.
I’ve heard from so many people who’ve shared that they thought they were meditating “wrong” or “didn’t have what it took”, because they couldn’t sit still in the first 30 seconds. We are built for survival, we’re constantly surveying the landscape for threats. Sitting still and going inward isn’t that natural for our human nature. And that’s OK! So, as with anything, action becomes easier with practice, and our skills and endurance grow. Build upon every attempt to meditate—whether it’s 60 seconds or 5 minutes. Every moment of meditation is good for you and there’s no wrong way. Everyone has the capacity to meditate—just keep showing up for yourself.