Chances are, when you read the word “meditation” the following image springs to mind: a person sat cross legged in lotus position, finger and thumb touching, wearing a blissful expression and humming “om.”
You probably also feel that you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to fold yourself into a pretzel while desperately trying to feel euphoric because someone on the internet told you to.
That isn’t what this blog post is about.
Chances are, you already know all the benefits of meditation and you possibly have a big fat “should” hanging over your head about it. “I should meditate more.” “I should meditate for longer.” “I should be better at meditating.”
So this post won’t tell you what you already know. What it will tell you is how to squeeze little pockets of meditation into your daily life, which you can build and improve on over time – if you want to.
This is one of those daily tasks we all have to do: at worst we hate it, at best we tolerate it, but let me tell you – this is the perfect opportunity for a fifteen minute meditation.
While the water runs, gaining warmth, begin to even your breathing. Take deep breaths into your tummy.
As you go through the motions of washing up – filling the sink, adding the soap, scrubbing the pots – try to be as aware as possible of the physical sensations of what you are doing. Is the soap bottle heavy? Is the warm water comforting? Try not to catalogue what you’re feeling – just feel it! Each time you find your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back to what you’re doing, and the sensation of your breath.
Even if you only wash up your breakfast bowl and coffee cup, these few minutes can be a fulfilling meditation if they’re done mindfully.
How long is your commute? However long it is, there’s enough time to squeeze in a meditation!
If you use public transport, download a piece of instrumental music that you know is shorter than the journey (even five minutes is enough). Put it on to your phone or mp3 player and once you’ve found a seat (and your bag is safe in your lap), put in your headphones, allow your gaze to soften (or your eyes to close, if you’re brave) and breathe.
Take slow deep breaths and ensure that your exhalations are slightly longer than your inhalations. Once the music stops, so does your meditation – and I bet you haven’t missed your stop!
Do you drive? Greet each red light as an opportunity rather than a frustration. Watch the light and breathe deeply, hear the sounds of the road around you but don’t hold on to them. Focus on the sensation of the wheel beneath your hands. Even if you can only mindfully take a breath or two before the light turns green, it still counts as a successful meditation!
In a world where gadgets beep for our attention almost continuously and so many of us take our work home, switching our minds off at the end of the day can be tricky! Use the peace and quiet of bedtime to help you fall asleep more deeply and sweetly.
Lie flat on your back, with your head supported by your pillow. Hold your feet hip width apart and your palms up at your sides – if you want to, you can place a pillow or a blanket underneath your knees. This is the easiest yoga position you can ever do: Savasana. Breathe in – feel your ribs rise, followed by your belly.
Breathe out – feel your belly hollow, your ribs fall and your body weight settle more comfortably into the bed beneath you. Bring your awareness to any tension in your body – jaws, lips and forehead are popular spots – and mindfully relax. Exhale for slightly longer than you inhale – it can be beneficial to count. Allow yourself to gently, softly fall asleep.
Meditation doesn’t have to be a daunting practice that dictates our day; instead, allow it to fill the gaps and spaces in your schedule like water fills the cracks between pebbles. We can’t all be yogis, but we can all be a little happier and a little more peaceful.