Yesterday I received a call from a client who told me, “Help! I want to meditate, but I don’t have time.” From the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them, our lives are filled with endless things to do.
Meditation is about quieting the mind and connecting within to that zen space of deep peace. Most of our day is spent in the “doing” mode and filled with chores, appointments, work or anything else that keeps us busy. But how can we get to that peaceful zen space when our mind is continuously thinking about what’s for dinner, the meeting at work, or picking up the kids, etc…
When most of us think of meditation, we think of the formal version where one is seated, with their eyes closed, fingers connected in a mudra, and placed on the knees. Almost like a Buddha. But, there is another way to meditate, and that is known as informal practice.
Informal practice is a practice that can be done at any time of the day, perhaps in line at the grocery store, while you are vacuuming, showering or even washing dishes. Informal practice is diverse and available during the daily events of your life. When you can switch from the left-brain thinking mode (doing) to the right brain sensing and experiencing mode (being), you are practicing informal meditation.
Informal practice allows us to weave our attention in to our daily experiences. It’s about bringing awareness to what is happening in the moment with no judgment or critical thinking. Just be; be with yourself gently and compassionately as you go about your daily chores.
For example, while you are washing dishes, you can bring your attention entirely on the task at hand. Notice the warm water as it rinses the colorful soap off, and feel the sense of accomplishment when the job is complete. Or when you find yourself on an extraordinarily long line at the grocery store, that is a perfect place to practice informal meditation. As you stand in line, get centered in your body and begin to release any tension you may be holding. Begin to breathe into the count of 6 and exhale to the count of 8. As you breathe in and out, focus on your breath and counting, while noticing any sensations you feel in the body. Your mind may begin to drift off into other thoughts, and here is where your real mindfulness practice begins. Bring your thoughts back ever so gently to your breath and the present moment. A drifting mind is normal, and being especially kind, and nonjudgmental with yourself is essential.
In my experience, when practicing informal meditation, being in line gets more relaxed, and so do my household chores. I especially like to practice informal meditation when I vacuum the house and do laundry. One of my friends hates to do laundry, but to me, I find that chore to be one of the most Zen contemplative of them all.
Cultivating mindfulness is easy and simple to do in your daily life. Be creative and see what areas you might be able to focus on in the moment with your breath. I’d love to hear about your experiences with informal meditation, email me at [email protected]