Have you heard that people who meditate are calmer and less likely to suffer from anxiety? They may have lower blood pressure and healthier hearts as well. But you don’t have time to meditate, right? Sure you’d like to be like those calm monks and yoga teachers who have hours every day to sit in stillness (because it’s part of their job), but you have a “real” work and a family and way too much to do. And even when you do have the time to meditate, you don’t because you’re just so bad at it (you can’t sit still, your mind wanders, your back hurts, etc.).
What’s a stressed-out, busy person in the real world to do?
It’s all Meditation
Our yoga teachers often remind us that it’s “all yoga.” In other words, we need to take our practice off our mats and into our lives and use the principles we learn in yoga in our daily lives.
Well the same can be done with meditation. You really can turn anything you do into a mindful experience. Mindfulness—being present in this moment as a detached and nonjudgmental observer—is one of the key goals of meditation. It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever got so stressed out that you needed to learn to meditate in the first place.
Here are 4 things you can do today that count as meditation.
1. Fold, chop, scrub or brush. There are countless action-oriented chores that you need to daily, and all of them can be done in a meditative way. Whether you’re folding laundry, chopping vegetables for a healthy soup, scrubbing your bathtub until it sparkles or brushing your furry pet so he won’t shed all over your furniture, you have an opportunity to really tune into the action in a meditative way.
2. Get stuck in traffic. It’s aggravating, yes, especially if you are expected to be somewhere at certain time, but there’s often little we can do about traffic. If you can’t find a quicker route to you destination, try this: sit up straight and take a deep breath. Then take another. Do it a bit more slowly, and focus on the air going in and out of your lungs. (Just be sure to stay alert and keep your eyes on the road while you do this!) Before you know it, you’ll be where you need to be.
3. Type with awareness. Many of us work at computers at least part of the time. If we don’t, we type emails to friends or do something that involves the action of using a keyboard to create words. Next time you’re using your keyboard, focus on the sensation of each finger making contact with the keys. Pay attention to the particular, unique sound that your keyboard makes as you work. Notice how fast or slowly your fingers are moving. Really tune in and watch the words appear on the screen. Try to slow your fingers down on purpose and see if your mind slows down as well.
4. Listen to something boring. When you’re in a boring meeting or listening to your chatty cousin tell you in detail about her last trip to the zoo with the kids, is your mind thinking, “When will this end?” If so, calm your mind and ease your pain by focusing on your breath as the story unfolds. Don’t think about what you are going to say or plan a strategy for ending the conversation. Just be there for a few more moments. Eventually, you may be able to be present for longer and longer periods of time without suffering and wishing you were anywhere else.
Try these techniques for a few minutes whenever you have the opportunity, and you’ll soon discover that life really is a meditation. Of course, it’s also a good idea to use traditional meditation techniques whenever you can as well. Even a few minutes of stillness will do wonders for your chattering mind and your restless body!