We know and understand the many benefits regular meditation brings but surprise, surprise so many of us find it near impossible to find the time or the inclination to practice on a regular basis. Unless we make meditation a habitual practice we will only meditate sporadically at best and our experience and well-being will reflect this
Fortunately there is hope. Evidence now shows that finding just five minutes a day to meditate can make a difference to our well-being. Those practicing a daily five minute meditation report feeling, among other benefits, more energy and clarity and less stress. This is great news for time poor people because the five minute meditation is a perfect way to start or end the day. I suggest, if you have had trouble with consistency or motivation, to get back to simple basics. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, begin to breathe in deeply and mentally release all tension as you exhale. Become aware of any discomfort anywhere in your body and breathe deeply into that area. You can opt to focus on your breath for the five minutes by counting or simply experiencing each inhalation and exhalation, or you may prefer to simply let go of all thought. As thoughts come let them float by like fluffy clouds in the sky. If you enjoy the experience and have the time extend your practice until you get restless.
During the day try and remember to check your breathing. When we are stressed our breath is shallow. If this is the case breathing deeply, and filling the abdomen with oxygen, is a simple way to quickly unwind. The beauty of deep breathing is that it can be done any place at any time. To maximise this experience bring your awareness and focus to the breath. This is called mindful breathing and doing anything mindfully is meditative because mindfulness is active meditation. Mindfulness is being present. When you are mindful, your focus is firmly planted in the here and now. We can apply mindfulness to any activity by giving it our wholehearted attention.
Each day offers an enormous choice of mindful opportunities. As long as we immerse ourselves in our chosen activity we are being mindful. For a good part of each day we have numerous mental files open as our attention darts from one thought or activity to another. When we consciously close those files and our focus is entirely on our current objective our performance and sense of well-being improves. Here are a few suggestions to incorporate mindfulness into your daily schedule.
Travelling to and from work either as a driver or a passenger. (N.B. Mindful driving means being present and alert with eyes open free of mental distractions as opposed to formal meditation. Never listen to a guided meditation whilst driving.)
Lunch time. Try mindful eating your – tastebuds and digestion will love you.
Mindful listening – you’ll be very popular as you will be giving your full attention to the person who is speaking in that present moment and they will feel it.
Mindful walking/reading/cooking/teeth cleaning. The opportunities are endless, just use your imagination. Immersing yourself into something you really love doing is a good way to get started. We tend to be good at things we love because we give things we love more attention.
The practice of meditation or mindfulness should not be hard. Sometimes the simplest practice is the most fulfilling. It’s just a matter of finding one that brings you joy.
Image courtesy of Coastal Soul Imaging