“I don’t have time.” “I can’t stop my thoughts.” “I’m just too busy!” I’m familiar with the common “workaholic excuses” when it comes to trying meditation. I know them well because I used to make them myself, especially when I was working on complex banking software projects, running a blog, and teaching Zumba. We juggle so many things already – how can we possibly take on anything else? But maybe we should find a way.
Maybe you’ve heard stories of how the most successful people in the world credit their meditation practice as a key part of their amazing results and overall incredible lifestyle. And though you have good intentions to check meditation out, tomorrow turns into next month, which turns into next year. And so on.
I did the same thing until a couple years ago. It was a critical juncture in my life. My marriage was falling apart and work was as busy as ever. So, I started looking for support and stress management techniques. Then one day, as I checked my ClassPass app for rest day ideas, I scrolled to it – an Intro to Mindfulness and Meditation class. Hmm…was this a sign?
It certainly seemed like one, so off to my first guided meditation class I went. I wish I could say I was instantly transformed. But, they don’t call it a meditation “practice” for nothing. In that first class, my thoughts were flying around. “Did I send that email I was supposed to?” “What am I having for dinner after this?” “This isn’t working.” Afterwards, it felt like I’d just wasted a precious 45 minutes of my life. I wondered if meditation wasn’t for me because “I can’t stop thinking!” But, I decided to keep trying to find a way for meditation to work for me. And you know what? With a bit more time and a couple mindset shifts, I did! And what came after was surprisingly good.
Arianna Huffington summarizes meditation benefits well: “Meditation is a miracle drug. Side effects include: more focus, better memory, longer attention span, enhanced creativity, greater well-being.”
What started out for me as a simple rest day activity for stress relief became so much more. Not only did I enjoy some of the same benefits Arianna lists, but I also became more confident and calm in handling my personal life challenges. And that was just the start.
The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless. Jennifer Lopez adopted a meditation practice to help her manage three major projects at one time: American Idol, her NBC hit show Shades of Blue, and her Las Vegas residency. Of her practice at the time, she said, “20 minutes a day in the morning and at night … was necessary.” If meditation can help JLo manage all that, imagine what it can do for you.
So, if you’re ready to get to meditating, here’s what actually got this workaholic to overcome my excuses and adopt a meditation practice that worked:
1. Keep Putting It Off? Commit to It.
Tap into your work success by leveraging your ability to commit. When you say you’ll do something at work, you know you’ll follow-through. Make that same commitment to yourself in the form of a regular, ongoing meditation practice and give it the same importance you’d give a key project. This isn’t a one-and-done home renovation, so remember you’ll want to set up a frequency for your practice. And how often should you meditate? I’m glad you asked…
2. Busy Schedule? Start Small.
Since you’re already time-constrained, definitely start small. Though popular advice is to try meditating daily, I found that pushed me away from starting my meditation practice. What actually worked? Meditating once a week. Adding only one new event to your week of more-meetings-than-you-can-count is much more manageable. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Forgetting About It? Schedule It.
Whilst the idea of meditating is great, make sure you actually add it to your calendar and treat it like an important meeting or appointment – something you wouldn’t dare miss. Choose a day of the week that is slower or one you have more flexibility with. Pick a time-of-day that is realistic, whether that’s before work, on your lunch break, or after hours. Using your calendar will help ensure you don’t accidentally accept a meeting or other event over your meditation time. Plus you can tap into the benefit of notifications.
4. Can’t Stop Thinking? Decide to Lean In.
One thing that will help you slow down the racing thoughts in your mind is deciding to lean into the stillness of meditation. If you continue thinking “I can’t stop my thoughts”, then that will be your experience. Decide to really let go and re-affirm your decision throughout the practice any time you feel that excuse bubbling back up. Relaxing can be surprisingly difficult when you’re so busy, but it gets easier with time.
5. Still Can’t Stop Thinking? Go Guided.
Feeling like you can’t stop your thoughts is totally normal. On their own, your thoughts will go all over the place. Give them a better way to flow by doing a guided meditation either through a group class or by using a meditation app. This will help direct your thoughts in a more aligned and meditative way.
Use these tips to overcome your excuses and adopt a meditation practice that will help you with balancing work, managing stress, and more. You can even enjoy a deeper benefit.
As Oprah explains, “The outside world is constantly trying to convince you you’re not enough. But you don’t have to take the bait. Meditation helps you resist.”
Help with work, stress, and being your best self? Time to schedule your first session.