For those of us with busy lives, meditation may seem like another thing to squeeze into the already packed schedule. With that in mind I am reminded of the Buddhist Monk who was asked: “How long should I meditate for?” The monk replied: “5 minutes.” The questioner responded: “But I don’t have 5 minutes to meditate.” The monk responds: “Then you should meditate for an hour.” Such is the value of meditation in our lives.
How to meditate even when I’m busy and tired
When we meditate, we are able to bend time to fit our schedule. It is as if time stops and flexes, giving us the space we need. We are no longer feeling rushed or frazzled and we manage to accomplish all of what was required; sometimes with time to spare! The letting go of stress, unending thoughts that we are conversing with in our heads, the short breathing pattern that we are not even aware of, releases in just a few short minutes.
Meditation is a practice.
Consider this: first time you ever decided to exercise, could you comfortably get through the entire sequence? If you engage in a yoga practice, same question. My guess is somewhere along the line during that first session, your self conversation was: “Why the heck am I doing this?” Once you reached the end and took a moment to access how you felt, it was like, oh, yes, improvement. Xyz actually feels better. Same with deciding to meditate, it’s like building a little used muscle. First time can be the hardest; after that it gets easier each time. The reason for it getting easier is the effects of your new found meditation practice are CUMULATIVE in your body. Translation: sit for 5 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning, 5 minutes before you sleep and you have effectively meditated for 10 minutes even though you broke the sessions up. If even 5 minutes seems like a stretch to start, do 3 minutes. No matter who you are or what your schedule, you CAN meditate for 3 minutes. Then when you are comfortable with 3 minutes, you will find yourself organically moving into longer stretches of time.
I already hear the next question
How do I know how much time has passed? I don’t want to sit too long. Release your anxiety around this issue quite easily by setting a timer before you start. Before long you will find yourself saying: “That was too short!” For those of us with great inner clocks, tell yourself you will be meditating for 5 minutes. Your body will know when you are done.
How much is this going to cost me to get started?
You do not require any special equipment or clothing to meditate. That being said, I do strongly suggest that you pick a spot in your living space that you find inviting and relaxing to use for your meditation practice. Be it a comfy chair, couch or a spot on the floor with some pillows. If you have the luxury of dedicating an entire room to your new Zen practice feel free to expand the space and make it as peaceful as you choose. If you are a fan of nature and prefer being outside, look for a nice spot in the garden or a tree that you feel drawn to sit near, under or next to. My favorite outdoor spot is on or near the beach; I sit and observe the sand, the ocean, and any people who may be there, the sea gulls and the sounds and smells around me. As I picture this in my mind, I already notice a feeling of being more relaxed and peaceful.
No matter what your meditation space turns out being, bring objects or pictures to that space that give you a feeling of being peaceful or at rest when you look at them. The act of creating this space for you is actually the beginning of your new meditation practice. You will find once you have created it, as you prepare to be in the space your mind and body will start to move into that relaxed meditative sensation effectively beginning the meditation for you before you even sit down.
Do I have to stand on my head to meditate?
Great question! For those new to meditating, all you need to do is sit comfortably. If you are sitting in a chair then feet flat on the floor, chin is parallel to the floor and the crown of your head is lifted toward the ceiling. This posture immediately allows your spine to be straight and the diaphragm fully open. Slouching may feel nice, but in the long run does you or your body no good.
Can’t I lie down?
There is a very fine line between meditating and sleeping! Part of the meditation process is to increase oxygen intake to the body. When we are lying down, we tend to get overly comfortable and let go of concentrating on the breath. Plus when you are new to this practice it’s very inviting to want to just sleep especially if you are retreating from a hectic lifestyle. So for now, sit up.
Ok, I’m in how do I start?
The easiest and most simple way to begin meditating is by focusing on your breath. You have your breath with you wherever you go and there is no cost involved. Sit or stand still, draw a deep breath in through you nose as you fill your belly up like a balloon with the inhalation. Exhale through the nose drawing the belly in toward the spine. Need a visual? Picture a newborn breathing. Their tiny little belly’s fill up like a balloon when they breathe in then float all the way down on their exhale. For beginners, it can be helpful to place one hand above the belly button and the other slightly below the belly. Then you will feel the rise and fall of the breath, and incorporate it into your awareness.
Still feeling a bit unsure of how to breathe? When you are lying down, place your hands on the belly and feel the rise and fall of you body along with your breath. You will be an expert in no time! 3-5 minutes is all that is required to start your practice.
Create a walking meditation.
Once again, simple, easy, no cost or extra time required out of the day. While walking, pay attention to how you are breathing, notice how you are lifting each foot, where and how you are placing it back down on the ground. Is the front of your foot hitting the ground first or is the heel being placed down. Are the arms moving? Are your arms static at your side? Focus on the path you are taking. The sounds you are hearing. What smells are prevalent and favorable? Notice objects or people that fall into your line of sight. During the entire time you are walking, breathing, in and out.
What music can I listen to?
Please, no Rap, Hip Hop or Country! Though you may enjoy these music forms during your day, they are not conducive to relaxation through your mind and body. There are literally hours upon hours of meditation music you can sample on You Tube. Do some research and randomly pick a video which appeals to you, play it and if you notice your body and mind beginning to slow down and relax give that one a go. I personally have once again begun listening to my own recording of a Crystal bowl meditation I had produced for my clients. So cool being a participant of your own work!