Let’s face it, most of us are too busy. Every day we have what seems like an endless list of things we need or want to get done, and that’s usually not even taking into consideration our job (or jobs), or time with family and friends.
So, it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest adding one more thing to that list, but what if that very thing actually made our day go more smoothly? What if we could come to enjoy the process of our daily chores as much as we enjoy the act of crossing them off of our list?
With mindfulness and meditation, we can rewire our thought patterns to view our circumstances through a different lens. We can come to see the mundane tasks on our to-do list with less dread and more acceptance, or even appreciation.
Add to that the fact that meditation and mindfulness have the potential to reduce stress, control anxiety, and increase focus, self-awareness, and happiness. These practices would obviously benefit any extra-busy person, but how do you fit them into your day when you’re already strapped for time?
1. Mindfulness First Thing in The Morning
Many of us know we should meditate daily, but it can always seem like we have more important things we should be spending our time on and we talk ourselves out of it. Instead, wake up, use the bathroom, sip some water, and go right back to bed, or any other designated place for meditation.
Wherever in your home, you land right after waking up, just sit and meditate. The idea is to make it happen before you even have time to start thinking about your endless to-do list and possible stresses of the day. Get it done first thing and reap the benefits all day.
Set yourself up for success by prepping for your meditation the night before. If you use a guided meditation, queue it up and have your headphones ready. When you are starting this routine, it may also be helpful to set an extra alarm on your phone so you won’t worry that you’ll fall back to sleep!
2. Lunch or Small Breaks
Whether you have time to find a park bench near work for a full hour or just have a 5 or 10-minute snippet of time, spend one break finding awareness of your breath. Count your breaths, tune into the sounds of birds, or take in the smell of flowers.
If you can find some privacy or feel comfortable, spend a few minutes with your eyes closed practicing pranayama breathing exercises. If this is new to you, The Art of Living offers a great primer on the practice and offers instructions on pranayama that calm the mind including bee breath (Bhramari Pranayama) and alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana).
One other mindfulness technique that is gaining popularity and that is perfect for a lunch or snack break is mindful eating. This practice combines mindfulness with something you are already doing, eating, thus saving you time. You simply become hyper-aware of every action, each texture, the nuance of every flavor, with each bite you take.
Some even ponder the path or full history of the ingredients in their meal. This not only calms your mind, but it also brings you a greater appreciation for your food, and for some, it leads them to make better choices about what they eat. There are many resources online to help you get started, with one of the most robust being The Center for Mindful Eating.
3. Mindfulness on the Go (a.k.a., Mindful Meditation)
Many of us have a very traditional image in our heads when we think about mediation. Perhaps a figure sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, and in silence. But, my guess is that if you’re reading this post, that isn’t exactly realistic for your life. Fortunately, that isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness.
You can choose to be present while doing anything from washing the dishes to feeding your dog. Take in the sensation of the running water on your skin, or take a moment to notice how happy your pup is as he chows down his dinner. This magic of meditation isn’t in the sitting, it is in the awareness. Use this to your advantage.
If you walk to work, a perfect way to fit in mindfulness is walking meditation. This is a form of mindfulness meditation where you bring your awareness to every detail of your walk. The way it feels when your foot rolls on and off the ground, the shifting direction of the breeze, each scent or sound you encounter, be aware of every detail, no matter how tiny, and you will not only calm your mind, but you will also begin to see the world around you differently.
Of course, one thing that hasn’t yet been mentioned is examining your life to pinpoint exactly why you are on this hamster wheel to begin with and, if you want to hop off, how to make that happen. But, that is another topic entirely, and if you are ready to slow down the frantic pace of your life, read my guide, The Battle Against Busyness: How to Reclaim Life.
If the meantime, if you can find a way to meditate before you even brush your teeth and go about your day with heightened awareness, you will carve out more calmness and quality of life for yourself. Even if you’re busy you can still fit in mindfulness. You just have to get creative!
Peggy Lundquist – Gen X Mindfulness