With everyone so short on time, it can sometimes be tough to justify sitting down 20 minutes or more at a time just to, well, sit. If you can find the time, however, it is life-changing. When you’ve consistently been meditating for awhile, you discover that it is more than “just sitting”. You learn to pause and see the depth in everyday life situations before reacting– if you choose to react at all.
Laura Day, who wrote the brilliant book ‘The Circle’, likes to say that meditation should be taught in everyday situations because it’s easy to meditate on the top of a mountain surrounded by nature, but the real challenge is applying those tools in rush-hour traffic. I recommend trying both. Whenever time allows, sitting in a quiet darkened room can be hugely restorative and you will naturally carry this relaxed feeling throughout your day when the meditation is over. When that isn’t possible, there are opportunities to turn these everyday routines into meditations in and of themselves:
1- Food and Drink: Sit down to a meal away from distraction, even if only for 10 minutes. Step away from what you are doing and have a hot cup of tea. Drink it intentionally… really tasting each sip, and feeling the steam warm your face.
2- Hold the phone: When we’re trying to resolve an issue, those customer service center holds can be brutal. Try turning the volume down on your phone, and take deep some deep breaths; imagine the outcome you want (a quick resolution to your phone call, and a friendly exchange with a probably overworked human being).
3- Driving: When you’re stuck on the road in bumper-to-bumper traffic, turn on some classical music and take some deep inhales and exhales. You won’t be going anywhere for awhile… so why not turn your car into a moving meditation studio. (Carry an herbal mist with your favorite oils, and spray lightly inside your car to make the experience extra special. I love the Rupa Mist Collection from the Chopra Center).
4- Cooking: Turn on some relaxing music, and instead of speeding through the process, really draw your attention to the tasks at hand. Make your diced carrots especially pretty, and pause to notice their beautiful vibrant color, for instance. Express your silent gratitude for the work that went into bringing that food from farm to your table.
5- Sleep: Just before sleep, try taking ‘inventory’ of all your body parts. Start from your toes, pay attention… are they feeling chilly? Feel the weight of the blanket over them. Keep going like this until you’ve reached the crown of your head. (Though you may be asleep before that happens, and that’s perfectly OK too)!